Boquete and Vulcan Baru

PanamaPosted by Malin Sat, May 14, 2011 00:03:31

In Canada we had a problem with a leaking brake hose, but every now and then we filled up with a little brake fluid and it was not too bad. Then the leak stopped and we just made ourselves a mental note about fixing the brake hose one day along the road somewhere.

While driving on these steep roads, and pushing it a bit because we wanted to get to Boquete before it got dark, we got a brake warning light on the dash, and discovered a rather serious leak in the brake hose. Filling up with brake fluid and driving very slow the last 30 km we got to Boquete without any accidents, and started looking for a place that could help us with a new brake hose. The challenge is that this brake hose is longer than the stock one because of the 5 inch suspension lift. We had to have a new one made after our spesifications.

Our host at the Pansión Topas recommended us a garage. We went over to talk to the mechanic. He did not have the parts that we needed, but he recommended us a place in town to get a new hose and he would put it on for us. The shop in town did not have the parts we needed. We went back to the mechanic, and for some gas money he would drive to David (about 40 km away) and get it for us. He said he would be back at 2-3 o’clock in the afternoon, and he would then call us at the Topas. At 3.30 we had still not received a call, and we drove to the garage where they were all sitting in front of a television watching Barcelona versus Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinal. Except the mechanic himself. Apparently he was still in David. We guessed he was also watching the match there before returning to the garage... So we called it a day, drove back to the hostel, and returned to the garage the next day. Next day the mechanic was back with his Barcelona cap on, and he had been able to get a brake hose for us.

The Patrol has a really tight fit for the left brake hose, and it took a bit of a struggle to get to the upper part of the hose loose. The new one went in, and Espen was skeptical as it went in a little too fast. We drove the car out, and tested the break. The new hose was leaking as h…! Back in the garage. He finally got it right, and we made a mental note of doing things ourselves if you want it properly done. We had a short test run in the valley and decided it was okay.

One of our reasons for coming to Boquete was that we had read that it was possible to drive up to Vulcan Barú, the tallest mountain in Panama with 3474 meters. We had also heard that it was pretty rough, and our host said that only a Unimog with portal axels could drive up there. We wanted to give it a try. Vulcan Barú is in a National Park and the information at the ranger station told us it was 13,5 km to the summit.

First the road was a nice gravel road, but then it became rougher and rougher with big rocks and no room to navigate as the road had dug into the terrain.

Every now and then we stopped and walked a bit to see if it was worth driving on. After 4,5 km we stopped to reconsider. Because of the brake hose we had started quite late in the day, and we realized that we wouldn’t get up there before dark. The 4,5 kilometers had taken us two hours, and the road kept getting rougher. On top of that, dark clouds came in and covered the mountain. Espen was also wondering about the brakes, and he suspected that there was still air in the system. We decided to turn around.

On our way down the rain started and we could hear the thunder up around the summit, and we were actually really happy about not camping up in that dark grey cloud. Another time…

After one more night in Boquete we were on our way to Panama City where the process of shipping the car will start.


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