Speed traps in Panama…

the cop that pulled me over

I was warned by a motorcyclist ahead of me to pay attention to the speed limits in Panama.  I was watching the speedometer, knowing there were Policia with radar guns lurking in the shadows of overpasses and trees next to the road.  The freeways in Panama are 4 lanes wide with pull off shoulders again, and keep going in a straight line for miles.  I saw the signs drop from 100kph to 80 kph, but my speed didn’t drop quickly enough.  There was an officer under the walkway splitting the difference between traffic directions.  He pointed to his eyes, pointed to me on my motorcycle and pointed to the shoulder, motioning for me to pull over. I wasn’t going that fast, he can’t be pointing at me, I thought, I am just going to keep riding and pretended like I didn’t see him. I looked at my speedometer and made sure I was going 80kph (about 50mph) along the highway.  I am not speeding, what’s he really going to do?  Minutes went by and I thought I had evaded being pulled over since, me not going very fast, wasn’t getting very far away from him.  I guess he was bored because in my rearview, I saw the white motorcycle pull up behind me flashing his headlights.  So I finally pulled over.  First thing I do was remove my helmet, and put it (with camera) pointed at me and his motorcycle.  Even though it was not on, he stood in front of the motorcycle, away from the lens.  I flashed a smile, waiting for him to tell me what I did wrong.  He was not happy I was going 94kph in a 80kph zone.  I smiled and said in broken Spanish I was slowing down.  He asked for my licencia, I gave him a copy.  He said he motioned for me to pull over, I pretended I didn’t see him. He asked for my passport.  I pouted.  He asked again pretended my Spanish than it really was.  He asked again.  I handed it over.  He said I was going to have to go to Panama City to pay the ticket.  I said I didn’t have time.  I was catching a boat to Colombia tomorrow.  He said pay it when I get back.  I said I am not coming back; I am headed to Argentina.  He said I would have to pay it today.  It was only $50.  I explained that is an entire days budget and pouted some more.  He asked how expensive a ticket in California is.  I lied and said I don’t know because I have never gotten one.  He asked how long it would take me to get to Argentina.  I said I would be 6 months on the road.  He asked if I was traveling sola.  I said yes.  He asked how big my motorcycle was.  I pointed, it was the same as his, 650cc. He said policia will give no ticket.  Consider it a regalo navidad.  I got my translation book out to look at what that was.  A Christmas present.  I said thank you and shook his hand.  I started my engine and rode a painfully slow 80kph all the to the Panama city.


4 thoughts on “Speed traps in Panama…

    • The police have actually been nothing but friendly, despite their bad reputation. I have had more police escorts to places we are looking for than trouble. And being a girl helps. 🙂

      • Alison, I can relate to your comment, “the police have actually been nothing but friendly” because that was my experience during my ride through Central America to Panama City. I also agree that being a girl helps, also my experience. I was riding without a GPS or maps alone and managed to find my way with the help of the police and the locals. They are truly amazing people in Central America. I was not too crazy about the food after I got food poison in Mexico and had to ride with food poison sickness through Mexico City, not fun. The coconut waters and Snickers bars were my saviors. Keep riding girl, you are an inspiration.

  1. That was FUN to read–Saul and I were laughing the entire time! Natalynne is right–you really got lucky! Love, Mom xoxoxo

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