My Mistake, I DON’T Got This…

Drop off day. It was supposed to be butter. Drive the van to the port in Colon and load it on the ship which was scheduled to sail the following day. Problem #1, the captain of the boat decided to leave two days early. Why would he do that and why the hell didn’t anybody from the port call us with this little piece of information? Because this is Panama and here people do what the F’ they want! 

Problem #2, immigration had no record that we exist. Once again the idiot border officials didn’t enter our vehicle permit into the computer system when we arrived in the Panama so there was no way to allow a vehicle that did not exist to leave the country. 

Enter the Wolf! My trump card. My hero, Julio. We’ve never hired anyone to help us with logistics, deciding instead to stumble our way across borders and learn as we go. But for some reason I had a weird feeling on this shipping project so we brought in back-up. Julio is a bilingual shipping logistics ninja. He isn’t a cheap date, but with his contacts and expertise we were able to “dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge” our way through the issues of the day. Phone calls were made and immigration was sorted out. Paper work was changed and we were booked on a new boat leaving in a week. Money changed hands several times. What can I say, I don’t got this, but Julio does.

Having bilingual ninja back-up helped us through the red tape, but equally important was having someone who actually knows their way around the Port. This is the Panama Canal people. It’s a forest of containers out there. I got lost just going to the bathroom and Julio had to come find me. I really thought I had that one… but I just didn’t.
Although the Sprinter is now shipping one week late, we’re still flying out on Thursday. That means the Sprinter has to sit at the port for a whole week before some random dock worker loads it on the ship. Turning over the keys was painful. The kid who drove off in the van was probably 20 years old and had cornrows and earrings. But the look on his face when I executed my “vehicle securing ritual” was priceless. I unleashed my triple-threat ultra-bomber multiple-barrier theft deterrent plan. Yeah, I could tell… he was impressed. (Good work building the 2nd line of defense Chad).

As if my day wasn’t stressful enough, upon arriving home I discovered that Stevie had rescued yet another dying dog. She pulled this puppy out of a trash can down the street. It’s probably only a couple weeks old. Stevie has been feeding it milk and swatting away the flies. Kiki is disgusted, I’m highly skeptical, and Shaun, our host, has added a new rule to the Panama Passage guest binder. Sorry, effective 6pm tonight bringing home stray puppies dying in trash cans is now against PP regulations.

That’s the update. Just another day in Sprinter Life. Carry on. TREE

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Stevie, you are the biggest hearted, most loving gal I know. Thanks for always keeping things in perspective.

    Thank goodness Juan was able lead you back from the john. That could have been ugly.

    As you were.

    Bon voyage.
    Love- Sis

  2. that puppy is sooooo cute! Are you taking it with you? Poor little thing. Kiki needs a little sibling right?

  3. Heather and Scott says:

    We are reading this part of your adventure with bated breath. I (heather) have been reading PanAm Notes and AdventurouSpirits and don't have much confidence in our ability to get across the Darien Gap intact. Stevie, that puppy is too cute. I would've done the same thing. Please keep us posted on your progress. How much does Julio cost and will he be available next year?

  4. mamatuyas says:

    All you can do at times like this is laugh out loud at how silly it all is. What happens, happens, and you two always make it a good story to boot. Tree, great defenses – I especially admire the wooden barriers. It would take a while for someone to get through. Stevie, I love your warm heart with puppies, but just leave some room in the van for a baby, OK?. Are you going to smuggle him onto the flight in your purse, or stick him in a crate with Kiki? (Not the baby – the puppy.)
    Love ya both!

  5. Sadly the puppy died last night. It was expected. It was pretty sick. But at least the last day of its life was spent being nurture in Stevie's lap.

  6. I do not look forward to doing that shipping when we get to Panama in a couple years. It does not sound easy

  7. Anonymous says:

    you're lucky you didn't end up in China on the way to the bathroom…oh wait those containers basically go one way…you are lucky you didn't end up back in the states!


  8. You seem like an amazing woman and my cousin is lucky to have found you. I hope our paths cross someday.

  9. that is so sad the puppy died. good for you though for trying to save its life. and good luck on your journey to south america.

  10. Ben Casados says:

    Your trials and tribulations brought old memories about moving a vehicle in a Foreign country. Once I had to move a Van from Lima to Buenos Aires. I was informed in Lima that the paperwork was handled by the auto club. So, in Lima I arranged for the transfer of the vehicle from Lima to Buenos Aires and traveling through Chile. When I arrive at Chile/Peru border they had the vehicle paper work but not included was the NASA equipment in the Van, by the way this was a NASA van. After extensive two day of negotiations they finally allowed me through the Chilean border.

    I drove south down the Chilean desert which by the way is very hot during the day an quite cold at night. The Humboldt Current from the South pole makes the nights quite cold. From Santiago Chile I headed east over the Andes heading for Argentina. The Chilean/Årgentina border is at the top of the Andes. I arrived there and quickly found out the paper work on the vehicle has not arrived. The way it is supposed to work is the auto club in peru wires the paperwork to buenos aires and they in turn wire it to the port of entry on top of the Andes. It so happened there was a communications strike in Buenos Aires so the paper work was still sitting some where in Buenos Åires. So I am now stuck on top of the Andes waiting for the paper. I will tell you how I got through on my next note.

    I can understand your discomfort at leaving your vehicle in Panama!


  11. Jenica Fonttenaus says:

    Forget kids, you guys should just start an adoption agency for abandoned dogs!
    Be Safe;)

  12. Fingers Crossed for the Sprinter's safe arrival

  13. Wendy & Jim Pearson says:

    love it. Can't wait to meet you guys sometime. Like your style and stories. We leave in November for our similar trip and are getting a bit stressed! Jim tried to sell our sofa to the Kirby salesman the other day just to get it out of the house.

  14. Wendy & Jim Pearson says:

    love it. Can't wait to meet you guys sometime. Like your style and stories. We leave in November for our similar trip and are getting a bit stressed! Jim tried to sell our sofa to the Kirby salesman the other day just to get it out of the house.

  15. Hi Wendy/Jim

    do you guys have a blog address? Hit our contact page and email us. We'll give you a bunch of tips and some documents you'll need

  16. is it just me or does your guide Julio look like a young Ponch from C.H.I.P.S


  17. MARY LESEPT says:


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