Travel in a third world country can easily put you on edge. Roads without signs, 6’ wide potholes, and ever-lingering policia are all contributing factors. Having 12 surfboards stacked on the roof doesn’t exactly lend a low profile either.
We found ourselves on day one heading from Panama City to a lava rock right-hand point break in Santa Catalina about 6 hours away. On the main highway they had police set up every 5 kilometers or so keeping an eye on things. A few hours passed with no worries until one of the badges decides to flag us over. Fortunately, he had great English and told us we were going 95k in and 80k zone. It’s funny how he could pinpoint our exact rate of travel with no radar gun. Nonetheless, “lo siento, amigo”, was our response.
He took his time and with some theatrics explained that driving the speed limit is important to him because there are many people walking on the side of the road and it was his job to keep them safe. After threatening us with a $100 fine, we came to an agreement. He spends all day in a full uniform watching cars passing by standing in the hot sun in one of the most humid places in the world; it’s a tough gig. What a better way to relax and cool off than one of Panamas national beers, the Balboa?
Reaching into our freshly stocked up ice chest, we passed him the coldest beer ever and threw in a Gatorade for good measure. Off we went; no harm, no fine, and a new friend made.