Leaving Panama …


I only got a couple hours of sleep last night and overheard my alarm-clock at 3:15am! When I realized that it was already 3:50am – my taxi was ordered for 4 am! But this is Panama, the taxis wouldn‘ t be on time anyway, right?!?
Wrong, just after I jumped out of bed and got dressed it was already there! It wasn‘ t a regular taxi, but the guy who works at the hostel arranged it, because he had a pickup that was big enough for my boxed bike, my trailer and myself. The fare was big, too. 27$, though I heard that other had to pay 25$. But I was just happy that I would get to the airport without any trouble.

At 4:35am, when I got to the check-in counter I was surprised to see that there were already many people though the flight was scheduled for 7am! A guy asked me if I wanted to wrap me bike and trailer in plastic. I said “no” and he only tried it one more time. Sara and Sebastien had a lot more trouble to avoid the plastic, but they flew with another airline. The bike was no problem, but I had to pay 100$, sport luggage. I said that it was a different price on their website, but they insisted on it. Ok then. My trailer was a regular piece of luggage and free of charge. The woman at the counter was very friendly and explained me patiently some things I didn‘ t understand on the customs form I had to fill out for the US (it was in spanish).

The security check was no problem and so I found myself at the gate already at 5am. Unfortunately all the stores were still closed. I couldn’t even get a cup of coffee – at least not in the part at the airport where I was.

The boarding was accompanied by another security check. A quick glimpse in the carry-on-luggage of most people, I was picked out to step aside, behind a plastic-wall, where my stuff was checked. But she didn‘ t even see the small extra-pockets in my bags. Then I was checked again with this “hand-thing”, then I had to take my shoes off and then I was finally allowed to board the plane.

The plane left pretty much on time. They sold a snack-box for 4 $ and a “Gourmet Cookie” for 3 (!!!) $. For one cookie!!! Beer was 6 $ (too early for it, anyway), headphones 2 $ (but I couldn‘ t see the TV from my place good enough). So I stared at the huge white clouds outside for a while, slept a bit and had a hard time to realize that I was really leaving Central America! It‘ s only a 2:50h flight from Panama City to Miami. Not even 3 hours to cross the countries I cycled through for nearly 8 months!!!

At the airport in Miami I was a bit nervous at the immigration, because I neither had an exit stamp from the US nor an entry stamp to Mexico in my passport (the border crossing in Tijuana was just a mess). So I waited in line and finally it was my turn at the immigration …

The officer was impressed by all the stamps I had in my passport and asked me what I did there. He asked me if I cycled alone and congratulated me to my trip! Then he saw my US-Visa in my passport and said that I would need to fill out the white form instead of the green one I handed him earlier. I said I didn‘ t know and that I thought the Visa would only count once. I apologized but he only said it was no problem and that I should fill out the white form (quickly, because of the long line). So I did that, got my stamp and am allowed to stay another 6 months in the US now … What a waste!

My luggage was already there, the bike-box still in one piece;-). I really didn‘ t expect that because I saw from the plane how the luggage-guy handle my bike! Very roughly. I was pretty upset when I saw that – I thought I could expect better care after paying so much money for it… but it‘ s always like this, I know.

I grabbed a luggage cart and pushed my stuff to the customs. They asked me the worth of my bike – but not where I bought it … I had to put all my stuff on a conveyer-belt and it got screened again. I thought they already did that in Panama!
Then I was finally done and headed into the arrival-hall where I bought a coffee and a mini ham and cheese croissant from a more than rude person at the coffee-shop.
I took a taxi (they are so big here, no problem to put my bike-box on the back-seats) to the Hostel in Miami Beach where I made a reservation, checked in and brought my bike to the bike-shop across the street … how convenient.


PS: It‘ s hot here!!!

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