RobC: We forgot to mention yesterday that we are in Del Monte pineapple country here. We saw some huge packing plants and fields and fields of pineapples, as well as truckloads of fragrant, ripe pineapples. I saw so many of them that after awhile I could not get the smell of pineapples out of my head. The other crops in the area are palm oil and coffee. The verdant rolling hills remind me a lot of the eastern slopes of the Andes in Peru.
RobT: We got up late today thinking the road would be closed until noon, or that's what we were told. We decided to pack up and head to the restaurant beside the highway where we were last night and see if we could find out any updated info. We had breakfast, did some e-mails and around 10am we noticed trucks starting to come from the San Vito direction (the way we were headed). As they drove past they honked their horns. I suppose they were telling us the road was open. We finished up what we were doing and headed toward the landslide area.
Side note: this roadside restaurant had a security guard (nice guy) who was armed. Seems like any place has these guards. The place we stayed at in Honduras had an armed guard with a shotgun patrolling the parking lot. We have noticed this to be common practice in Central America.
We got to the landslide area and as usual passed the long line of trucks, buses and cars, as motorcycles typically do here, and parked at the front. I think we waited about half hour before the engineer allowed us to pass. We had to follow the police pick-up truck. Once we got to the site of the landslide, there was mud and heavy equipment everywhere. It was a substantial slide with at least 4 large components to it, worst one we have seen and most of the hillside had slid across the road and down the mountain. The construction crew had to build a new rock/gravel road, the left side was sheer cliff to the river and the right was mud ... the "new road" was partially covered by a foot and a half of water. Fortunately, we made it through with very little sliding around.
We had about an hour of riding to get to the remote border crossing and were warned about the last 50km of road being horrible ... potholes, potholes, potholes. Can't remember who had warned us but they didn't exaggerate. The road followed a mountain ridge with steep slopes on either side and no guard rails. The scenery was stunning. All lush green fields and trees.
RobC: In time of disaster, such as the rains, floods and landslides in Costa Rica, it is amazing how quickly you make friends with people going through the same ordeal of waiting and hoping for the road to open, so that everyone can go on with their travel plans. Along these lines we made friends with motorcyclist Ben, who is heading for Tierra del Fuego on a KLR 650, and who we will undoubtedly see again on the way down, as well as Jaime and Betina, delightful people from Spain, and Michael and Anneke from Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, who are working with Operation Mobilization in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
RobT: We made it into San Vito, stopped for a quick regrouping and headed to the border. The road was "gravel". Actually, more rocks than gravel. It took about 2 hours to complete all our paper work and the only money we had to pay was for bike insurance in Panama, 15USD. Also, it is quite handy that Panama uses US Dollars. They used to use Balboas, which were on the par with USD, but now they just use dollars.
FINALLY!! In Panama. The road from the border to Volcan was spectacular. Beautiful winding roads through lush vegetation, coffee fields and deep valleys. Wow.