It's a few days before our car rental is up, and not many more before Todd leaves Panama. This calls for some sort of grand finale.
"How long does it take to drive from one ocean to another?"
We look it up and find out two key pieces of information. One: it's a pretty short distance, less than forty-five miles in a straight line. Two: there doesn't seem to be any posted record for swimming in both the Atlantic and Pacific in the shortest amount of time possible.
Take those bits of information, add about fifteen minutes of Todd and I riling each other up, and you've got a challenge on your hands. How quickly could we go from being in one body of water to the other?
We do some research. Accessing the Pacific Ocean in Panama is tricky. Sure you can see it everywhere, but the water near Panama City is gross. You'd never want to swim in it. We find a beach called Playa Bonita (Beautiful Beach) which is pretty close by. Good enough. Finding a beach on the other side is much more difficult. We know roughly on the map where we want to be, but Google Maps doesn't show many roads for Panama. We'll have to wing it.
If you have to call a beach "Beautiful Beach", then it's a good bet that it's not actually beautiful. The sand is pretty nice, but the water seems dirty, so we settle on wading rather than swimming. No one else is anywhere near the water.
A few Panamanians look at us strangely as we walk out wearing nothing but Speedos, set our camera up on a rock, and start talking to it. For some reason it takes us a dozen takes to get our intro right, which only contributes to the scene.
Finally we get it right, hit "start" on our stopwatches, and sprint across the beach. The rocks hurt our feet and dodging the glass and debris is a bit of a challenge, but we were on a mission. We are setting a record, unimportant as that record might be, and every second counts.
We squeeze into our rental car and Todd takes off while I struggle to set the camera up in the back of the car. We have the idea that we'll video the whole event in one continuous shot, but the road vibrations from the poorly maintained roads and the g-forces from Todd taking corners quickly knock the camera around and stop it several times.
Getting out of Panama is stressful. By now we know most of the roads, but we don't have the lights or traffic patterns down. What we lack in technical knowledge we attempt to compensate for in raw speed. Knowing that even if we get pulled over a quick $20 bribe is all that we'll face, Todd routinely pushes the car to its absolute maximum, which is just over one hundred miles an hour.
We get on the highway and things go smoothly for the most part. One area is under construction and a confusing detour sets us back by five minutes. I stay glued to my GPS screen. It doesn't have most of the roads, but I can see us moving closer and closer to the blue area that represents the ocean.
Things get sketchy as we get to the Atlantic coast. There are lots of roads and no signs for beaches. We know we're close, but the pressure is on. It's been 86 minutes and we really want to do it in under 90 minutes, just because it's a round number.
"I don't think we're going to make it. Maybe ninety one or ninety two."
Todd goes even faster. We're now going ninety on a narrow but empty road near the coastline. Finally we make a gamble. A road that hooks to the left seems like it must get closer to the beach. We take it, slow down for the pedestrians, and continue to drive to where we think the beach is.
The beach has got to be right behind those shacks. "Let's run for it."
We jump out of the car and run through the alleys behind the shacks, disturbing roving flocks of chickens. Bystanders can only assume that we are completely out of our minds. We're at 89 minutes, and are totally screwed if we're not at the ocean.
Finally we weave behind some sort of monument covered in broken glass and see the waves crashing on the shore. As soon as my feet hit the water I hit the stop button on my watch. The water is so warm and pleasant that I run all the way in and go underwater. I press the water out of my eyes and look at my watch.
We made our goal with less than half a minute to spare, setting what we believe is the fastest documented time for being in one ocean and driving to the other. Try beating us!
Make sure to check the blog later this week! I'm going to release the first couple chapters of the Life Nomadic book for free....
The distance is only 45 miles line of sight, but you can't travel that way. We were going 100 on the highway, but there are little towns and stuff through which you have to go much slower.
@Eddie I have no idea... I'll try to remember to ask Todd. That's the kind of music he listens to.
No, not Juvenile, the song after that, when you're speeding along your journey. It sounds like an electronic indie-type song.
I'm confused. You said it was 45 miles between Oceans and you were travellin at 100 miles an hour yet it took you an hour and a half?
haha dude. dont judge otjer countries by your countries values. in a lot of xountries tjere are no speed limits and in say mexico its expected that you bribe police. ofgen if they see an american driving they will pull tjem over on a trumped up charge expecting to be bribed.
Isn't it very disrespectful against the country that you are a visitor in to just disregard their laws. And to even have in mind to bribe a police officer is quite disgusting actually. Bribery is a major offence.
We have the speedos because they're hilarious. You can't see it well in the video, but they actually have belts with metal buckles.
I'm sure a lot of people think we're a gay couple, but the hilarity of the speedos is worth it. We wear them all the time.
Hilarious...adventures like that are always fun, haha.
The speedos are confusing me too, if I had watched that I would think for sure you were a gay couple. Todd's facial hair is awesome too.
Jose, our friend and the guy who rented our apartment to us, is a Spanish teacher here in Panama. He comes over a couple times a week and hangs out with us. It's business and pleasure - we learn Spanish from him and we teach him about online business. He's a lot more of an expert in his field than we are in ours.
Last week he told us about a couple he teaches here. The guy, Peep (pronounced 'Pep') is from Estonia, and the girl, Sarah, is from Austin! We called them up and planned to hang out one night.
They live in Casco Viejo - "The Old City". Todd and I kept intending to go visit Casco Viejo, but never got around to it. Unless there's a moderate amount of pressure, you can't ply us from our work.
In high school I was given the opportunity to leave the country, twice, on school trips. One of my friends was always unable to go, not because they couldn't afford it, but because her parents didn't "believe that kids should leave the country at such a young age." While I respect their right to their opinion, I completely disagree. I think the best time to travel is while you're young.
As I said in my first post, I left the country for the first time when I was in the third grade. I went to Mexico. Many people think that when we are children we are too young to appreciate other countries or famous landmarks, or too young to remember the trip when we get older. I remember that trip vividly. It changed my life.
We stayed south of Cancun. I remember driving through rural neighborhoods and seeing the poorest people I'd ever seen. I remember we had a maid and a cook, who lived in a house with their kids which was connected to our rental house. I remember speaking no Spanish whatsoever and communicating with the kids, who didn't know how to swim. I remember playing with the kids in the shallow end of the pool and I remember that the language barrier meant nothing. I remember drinking powdered milk. I remember playing with dogs who lived in the neighborhood but didn't really belong to anyone. I remember climbing an ancient Mayan pyramid at Chichen Itza. I remember hiding in a roped off temple at Chichen Itza with twenty other tourists because the lightning storm was so close and I remember watching stranded tourists at the top of the pyramid. I remember the heat, I remember building sandcastles on the beach. I remember there were hermit crabs everywhere. I remember eating scones for breakfast every morning. I remember the cook coming over to cut the tail off of the scorpion for us, and then he picked it up and carried it outside. I remember Coca-Cola was everywhere, and I never liked it until I tried it in Mexico (that real sugar makes a difference!). I remember driving down dirt roads. I remember we drank Fiji bottled water because we couldn't drink the water in Mexico in case it made us sick. I remember playing the Pokémon Sapphire edition, and I remember teaching the cook's kids how to play. I remember the smell distinctly. I remember hanging up our swimsuits to dry, and how it was so humid that they were still damp the next day. I remember the cook made us Mexican pizza, and his wife taught us how to make real tortillas. I remember not liking Mexican food until I went there. I remember journaling in a Hello Kitty notebook. I remember kayaking in the ocean with my friend and I remember her stepping on a sea urchin, which went through her shoe and she had to go to the hospital. I remember the water in the ocean was as warm as bathwater. I remember my mom went with the cook to drop the kids off at school, and I remember her telling me about the poverty. I remember seeing the poverty for myself, and being so thankful for what I had. I remember laying out on the beach beneath the stars and watching the lightning storm that was taking place across the ocean. I remember tourists wearing sombreros at the airport and I remember we had a layover in LA, and the hotel we stayed at smelled like green beans. I remember loving it. I was only eight, but don't you dare tell me I was too young.
Since then I 've seen the countryside of Japan, eaten massive amounts of crepes in Paris, France, touched the Mediterranean Sea and travelled Spain on crutches, and sat on the steps of parliament in Victoria, Canada. Each one incredibly unique. I could write pages on every single trip. I did wait until high school to leave the country again, but I don't think I appreciated these trips more simply because I was older. I appreciated each and every trip equally. I don't think that we need to wait until after high school to travel. In fact, I think it's incredibly important to experience other cultures while we're young. I so firmly believe in this that one day I hope to start a non-profit program which takes young students outside of the United States and shows them how to experience the world.
Mexico changed my life because I very quickly became aware of people outside of my situation. I appreciated what I had more. I gained a much greater understanding of the world, and it gave me an entirely new perspective of the world. You don't know something until you've seen it or experienced it. These trips killed stereotypes for me. I've learned to travel without cultural expectations. I've learned that rural areas can be just as cool as tourist locations. We can say we feel compassion towards those who are starving in Mexico or Africa, or that we understand there is poverty in India. But how can we know? Experiencing other cultures, breaking the language barrier, that is how it's done. When we're young we haven't quite formed as many judgments or expectations. We don't know what to expect, and we are more open to accepting these other countries. I have a greater understanding of the world because of these trips, a greater appreciation for my own country, a deeper love for those across the world, a sense of pride in my country, a passion for travelling, an acceptance of other cultures... It's important to break down stereotypes while we're young. It's important to understand others while we're young. I'm only eighteen now, but I'm not too young to travel. I'm going to study abroad. I have travel plans in the future. Many travel plans in the future. I don't plan on ever stopping.