Tales about Aviation, Coaching, Farming, Software Development

Where no car has gone before: what a great feeling

Yesterday we went again to Canitas to check on the progress of the road we are building. The guys had made it far. More than half the distance from the turnoff point to the river in front of the farm is cleared and we could drive with the Jeep about 70% of the road. The rest still needs some work with the chainsaw. It looks great though. I believe we will be able to drive all the way down to the river by next weekend. If that holds true, then it would have been two weeks to cut this 2.5 km road through the forest. I think that’s not bad given that the only tools used are machete and chainsaw.

It really felt great to drive where never a car has driven. Cars are around for a bit more than 100 years. In a place like Panama there are cars for far less time and this mountain ridge was never in history touched by a tire at all. So this is really a first and look how gorgeous the view is!

Down there you can see something shiny. That’s a roof. It belongs to the family dwelling of those who work the fields across from it. They have a variety of crops in production. When there is time we should visit, learn their names and look at what they grow there.

Further you can see the dirt road from Buenos Aires to Playita. The trees in front of that road mark where the Chuluganti river is. Right of the roof reflecting the sun the road crosses the river. In the background you can see the Lake Bayano and the mouth of the Chuluganti river.

After a short walk we found the guys cutting down brushwood. The big trees on the ground were not felled by us. Those are leftovers from the clearing done earlier by Frederico Camargo who owns that land. As we are building the road we can process the wood and take it with us for construction purposes. Who does the work reaps the benefits is the rule in these cases.

This is where the road ends at the moment. From that point on the road will go downhill towards the river which is about 80 m below our current altitude.

Gregorio and his friend are resting after a long day of hard work. The distance to the village from here is about 7 km - 8 km with some steep slopes. They bring one horse but one of them has to walk. That’s how these guys earn themselves a living.

This Saturday we had some other business as well. During the week we met with the administrator for the district of Chepo (alcalde de chepo) who owns a strip of land himself in the area. He had built a road to get to his land and this road happens to be the extension of the road we are building. Well… From our road there are actually two options to get out and onto the public road that leads to the Interamerican Highway. The difference is that one has some very steep climbs while and you have to drive down the hill, cross a river and then go up another very steep climb while the other stays on top of the ridge for most of the time, the river crossing is further up the stream where the river doesn’t flow through a narrow valley and finally to connect to the public road there is no steep climb but instead it winds up in long curves. That second option is far better and we are very happy that the district administrator will be sharing his road with us.

Sharing a road of course means that one shares maintenance duties as well. To start with that we will take advantage of a bulldozer that is currently in the area to do other work. We want to improve the river crossing (raise the river bed a bit) and carve out a different path to avoid rain damage. Half of the cost will be paid by our new friend H.A. Olmedo Barrios and half by us. The letters “H.A.” stand for honorable alcalde which means honorable mayer in English. That’s what is printed on his business card.

We met him again at this little gathering in the village where we were offered a very tasty soup (more kind of a stew) and coffee. We came late, just wanted to talk briefly to Olmedo Barrios but the people dragged us in, sat us down and served us food. That’s how these village people are. Very friendly and there is always enough food to share with a visitor. Don’t refuse what you get served :-)

Besides all the progress on the road we also found a corral well located and close to the entrance of our road. There we will be able to safely unload cattle in a few weeks.