It was a very busy day for the Panamerican 20,000 crews during their two day pause in the city of Cartegena. The passing of the berlinettas generated much enthusiasm with the locals crowding around the 599 GTB Fioranos, if only to touch the livery.
The city of Cartagena, was the setting for the passage of the vehicles and put on a spectacular show that re-enacted the battles between pirates that have taken place here over the centuries.
Today the crews completed the customs procedures that will allow the 599 GTB Fioranos to board the transport ship 'Anna K'. Tomorrow the tour will touch down in Panama, a destination the crew members will reach by air. Then the Panamerican 20,000 will continue its journey through Central America.
Panama, 30th September 2006 - While the Ferraris boarded the ship that would take them to Panama, the team members were on a flight to the same destination. There they took the chance to visit the famous canal. In the meantime, the new group of journalists that will accompany the tour on the next stage joined the expedition.
The canal that links the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean is now almost one hundred years old. Construction began in 1904 and the canal was inaugurated ten years later. Today, it is still widely regarded as one of the most imposing structures on earth and, recently, a plan to build new locks was approved meaning that even larger ships will be able to transit through the canal.
Panama, 1st October 2006 - The Ferraris left a little late on their journey to Panama. The crew benefited from the enforced stop to meet a community of Indios from the EmberÓ ethnic group in the Rio Ciagre river basin.
These peoples moved to the area from the Darien region, a mountainous area covered in rich vegetation that divides Panama from Colombia. Even though the signs of modern society are evident and inevitable, the group jealously try to guard their traditions, culture and language.
Panama, 2nd October 2006 - The ship with the 599 GTB Fioranos on board has arrived in the port of Colon. As it was unloaded in the afternoon, the crew made the most of its free time by visiting the city. The expedition saw colonial buildings, historic churches and remains of the store rooms where the riches from the south were kept. There were also incredible attractions like the presidential palace, testimonies from the struggle for indepedence, modern skyscrapers, and the popular huts that surprised the crew members waiting to restart.
In the afternoon, under the daily tropical downpour, the vehicles were unloaded and the expedition returned to Panama as dusk fell. The stint on the road was the cars' first in Central America.
David, 3rd October 2006 - The two 599 GTB Fiorano leave the hotel in Panama at 8 o'clock in the morning to reach the lock of Miraflores at the channel where the Italian Ambassador is waiting to greet us before we proceed to the road for our seventh stretch. The rain season continues to accompany us and our Berlinettas through Central America.
The downpours settle in, and heavy rain drenches the cars along their way until the hours of the afternoon. The tour hits the highway, direction Santiago where the landscape features cultivated land, farms and villages scattered along the road. Beyond Santiago you can find the tropical rainforest and the road which runs like a tunnel through the forest where people are few and far between.
After more or less 20 kilometres driving on a straight and non-asphalted track, which turns into a new and very pleasant road ride, taking the team to David.
San Jose, 4th October 2006 - The team with its two 599 GTB Fioranos leaves David early to get on the road in the direction of the Costa Rican border using a modern four-lane road. After only a short ride the team has to stop at the border for the formalities to leave Panama. The formalities to get into Costa Rica take a little bit longer and long hours pass by. The team also worries about the other borders they have to cross in Central America. Once the border has been passed the road leads along impressive vegetation, interrupted by banana, pineapple and coffee plantations once in a while. At lunchtime the usual tropical rain begins to fall.
130 kilometres to go to San Jose and the road starts to lead upwards, turning narrow and very curvy, until its peak at 3200 metres is reached. While driving down the rain stops but it becomes foggy so that the cars have to slow down. From up above they can finally see the city lights of San Jose' and after a quick ride the team arrives at the hotel. Tomorrow the troop will take up the journey in direction of Puntarenas.
Managua, 6th October 2006 - The Panamerican 20,000 team leaves Puntarenas early in the morning to reach the border to Nicaragua. Soon the narrow traffic-jammed street leads through tropical vegetation.
The landscape resembles the ones seen the days before, with houses and shops next to the road just in front of the usual luxuriant vegetation. Lots of signs indicating tourist villages along the shores of the Pacific Ocean accompany the tour of the 599 GTB Fiorano. While approaching Nicaragua the forest slowly gives way to wide plains with livestock farms. It takes a long and exhausting time to cross the border into Nicaragua. The tour hits the road again along the Lake Nicaragua with its splendid volcanoes The last kilometres leading to Managua are especially testing as the narrow road traffic jam-packed with potholes and the usual tropical rain. At Managua the Italian ambassador welcomes us with a party and lots of local guests and members of the Italian community.
San Miguel, 7th October 2006 - Departure from Managua is at dawn, because of the long time it takes the team and the two 599 GTB Fiorano to cross the two borders waiting for the Ferraris today. The troop sets off on a flat road through incredibly green vegetation with livestock farms. Later the road leads upwards through forests to end on a plateau and at the border to Honduras. There are more livestock farms on the plateau and vultures looking for prey circle above. Leaving Nicaragua doesn't take long but the long procedures to enter Honduras make it speeding up the treck unlikely.
The cars remain stalled for several hours. Once the procedures are done the cars start again and the road leads down to the plane of Choluteca. The tour proceeds on a high-speed road and finally the cars arrive at the border between Honduras and San Salvador. Here the team has to wait again for several hours. After passing numerous roadblocks finally, under moonlight, the shape of the volcano that sits above the city of San Miguel becomes prominent.
Ciudad de Guatemala, 8th October 2006 - After the last night, watching the Japanese GP, the tour members dolook a little worn out and disappointed. The tour leaves San Miguel in the direction of the capital San Salvador cruising on a pleasant , fast speedway to meet the local Ferrari dealer. The welcome is warm-hearted and compensates last night's disappointment; the delightful party was prepared by an Italian cook what excited about the presence of the two 599 GTB Fiorano. The cars left in the direction of Guatemala. The vegetation is still incredibly green and along the road livestock farms and tropical forest can be seen, interrupted by long stalls where coconuts are sold. The usual tropical rain welcomes the cars at the border town of Las Chinamas in El Salvador to Valle Nuovo in Guatemala, connected via a bridge across the Rio Imposible. This time the border is rapidly passable and the cars follow the road in direction of the capital Ciudad De Guatemala.
Before they arrive in Ciudad De Guatemala the team rides by two splendid volcanoes to their left, one of them adorned with a wonderfully towering smoking crater. It's picture perfect. As the team reaches the hotel, as usual, guests and personal admire the two 599 GTB Fiorano.
Antigua, 9th October 2006 - The morning was dedicated to visiting the Ciudad de Guatemala. Unfortunately the city was hit by several devastating earthquakes, the last one in 1976, so the city has not much to offer architecturally. A couple of modern skyscrapers which have been built earthquake-proof can be spotted replacing the original buildings destroyed by earthquakes. The team is impressed by life, colours and the traditional dresses of many of the women.
The chaotic traffic in the city quarters the 599 GTB Fiorano are passing is similar to the ones in many other metropolies. At noon the team meets the Italian ambassador, local businessmen and representatives of the Italian community. As usual the Berlinettes are admired. The ambassador gave a touching speech regarding what Ferrari represents in the world.
Later the team leaves in the direction of Antigua, the ancient capital, the third in Guatemala's history. A visit to the city is scheduled for tomorrow.
Atitlan, 10th October 2006 - Antigua, world cultural heritage, is the city from where the two 599 GTB Fiorano set off for today's section in to Atitlan, situated in the "Valle de Pauchoy" or "Valle de los Lagos", besieged by three volcanoes, Agua, Fuego and Acatenango - only several kilometres away from confusion, pollution and the dangers of Ciudad de Guatemala lies the jewel of Antigua. The city shows signs of past earthquakes, but the urban structure stands absolutely intact and almost all the buildings were restructured or rebuilt as hotels or public offices. The local population is unintrusive and the team can peacefully explore the city until the two Ferrari Berlinettes are discovered. Tourists, locals and just curious people happily huddle around the Berlinettas.
Leaving Antigua the team drives through colourful villages, passing vegetable fields where forests had been levelled. The team stops at the archaeological site of Iximche' to later hit the road again in the direction of Lake Atitlan dominating the conical pyramid of the volcano with the same name. As usual the rain is our loyal travel companion throughout the ride of our two 599.
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