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.
Just like any other late summer’s afternoon on Ruapuke beach, the sun was smiling big long golden sighs out across the black sand. The ocean playfully rolled out, stretching in the lowering light, almost touching our toes; three pairs and four paws scattering south. Seaweed and shells dot and sprinkle the beach, swept by feathers and dancing grasses. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. We almost missed it. A rope lay limp on the shore, a reddish rust coloured rope, one end buried in the sand, the other curled like a snake. Thinking not much of it I continued to walk, skimming my soles on sandy skin. Boh first begins tugging on the rope, and when he starts to shout that he can’t move it, Van starts digging. When Strachan can’t free the hidden end he calls to me and I see the three of them struggling, building curiosity. I wandered back over to help. Now, you might think that after this rough attempt we’d assume that the rope was attached to something bigger underneath the sand that we couldn’t free by pulling, something that’d require a great deal more effort excavating and so we would try 2 minutes more, lose interest and continue meandering along the beach; in which case you’d be right. Well, partly right. We did assume the rope to lead to something bigger and we did try for two minutes longer then meander further along the beach… But we didn’t lose interest. 
What was strange about the rope was that it wasn’t there before. For something so big to be buried so deep in the sand naturally, you’d imagine it’d been there for a while. We had, earlier that very day returned from a Wellington trip, so there was a small chance in those 8 days that something had washed up onto the beach and slowly become buried by sand. Bouncing these thoughts back and forth up and down the beach, we approached the rope on the return leg to the car. It bathe innocently in the closing rays, dead still.We were about to walk away. If it had been a fraction of a second later, we’d have wrapped up the mystery with a conclusion that it was probably a buoy, nothing that exciting, closed our mental case files and archived them deep in the memory section labelled ”forgotten”. But all of a sudden it began to shiver. It shook and quivered and lifted it’s knotty neck up to the sky. All four of us stood stunned, wide eyed like possums in headlights.
Eyes scanning the beach in disbelief, seeking out other humans with whom to share this bizarre occurrence, gradually, with the hesitant suspicion of a child about to try an olive for the first time, we shuffled closer to look into the scrappy wet hole. Around the base of the rope the water was still and glassy. Strachan reached out and touched it, and from the exact point that he did, the rope began to change, deep green embellishment growing, winding and swirling like a vine down to the earth and up to the sky. It became rigid and began fattening into what looked like a carved trunk, pushing away the water, which looked silver in its shadow. We were all stepping back, looking up in absolute amazement, at what appeared to be a giant tree, wound delicately with intricate foreign looking flowers, thick with deep green leaves. At the base sat the only other colour; a rusted orange daisy as big as a foot. Once it seemed to have finished growing, without a word to one another, we all stepped to the vibrant ring of petals, and knelt down, noses drawn in. It had the most fruity fragrance, tropical and sweet, with a hint of cinnamon. Inhaling deeply the clouds, once white and fluffy and far up above, began sailing over the ocean and falling towards the horizon. Like melting marshmallows, they dripped out of the sky. Then Boh pointed at the far end of the beach. “Look!” Sand started swirling, sliding over itself and piling up against the rocks. I suddenly thought, “this can’t be real, I must be dreaming”. But it wasn’t a dream. This was the entrance to a vertical forest.
The world rotated was much cooler, the sun hidden underfoot somewhere. Finding ourselves in a woody clearing we rose from our knees and saw the flower hanging up above like a warm star. Etched into a water-smoothed stone, about the size of a new ford fiesta, were several messages to new arrivals;
.1. One must not use verbal communication above the decibel of a whisper.