Date: Date:Wed, 24 June 1998
From: Claude Marthaler <>

Subject: " Darien gap or  the "no-road" land"

Dear Redfishes !
Cartagena, Colombia, km. 73598

"Early morning, the bright tropical sun was goldening the high towers of
Panama city and the still hazy Pacific ocean. The  six passengers
airplane (the pilot, four people and  our bikes) balance towards the
Orient-straight into the sun.

One of the bank centers of the world (with Switzerland and Hong-Kong ) was
definitively behind us, and  with  it , a certain idea of 

ust under our fragile vessel, the giant rainforest, crossed by large
curved rivers and fine lines of clouds. The panamerican highway was here
reduced to its most primitive expression : a narrow line of mud soon
dying into the Darien gap, one of the last lungs of the planet.

The  "Pilatus", a swiss airplane was the only thing which remained me of my
country, at one ocean distant, the Atlantic, that we reached after one
hour flight. Travelling (with the change of landscapes, climates, people and
habits) remind you constantly that life is a journey in itself.

We landed in Puerto Obaldia, a panamanian village on the Carribean coast;
our eyes no more asphalted, our ears no more saturated with motors
rumors, our lungs fully open, as were our souls.

The warmth of the Tropics is a fantastic break; making the people move
and speak slower. As fast the Carribean music, so slow the lifestyle.
Even the military were watching through their thick lenses the "Gringos"
bathing at the local beach. At the horizon, high-speed boats were
carrying cocaine from Cartagena, Colombia to Miami, USA in the
"no-road-land", nobody seemed somehow (like in the West), to "loose his
time" or his money.

At first, asking for the next boat departure to Colombia, every single
person would gives us another day, another hour. You could easily think
that the Carribean sea was a busy and crowded place, but
The Colombian captains  were like the world-bikers : without any
schedule, they leave once fully-packed and simply were ready to go.
Eventually, we reached Capurgana, our first Colombian village; South
America !

We walked down the main street towards "El Cantil", an intimate bar on
the shore, meeting place of a peacefull time-guerilla, called the
F.L.F., Fronte Lunatico Fronterizo (The Lunatic front of the border)
associated with the F.L.A.- Fabrica de Licores de Antioca.
Among its rules, this original association, inviting Mister Tourist to
"forget together our desire of abstract representation,  our race for
progress, to let us go fully to enjoyment in all senses of the term",
declared in his program :

- to renew our dead cells for lively ones, new tissues of vitality,
drinking the delicious licores of "El Cantil"

- to slow down the speed of our desire; that happiness wouldn't hurry up.

We, cyclonauts, were suddenly trapped in another "time-zone", unable to
turn our pedals on sea routes.Two boats and about five days later, we reached finally Cartagena, Colombia. Land met everything for us : to move freely again,  till
Ushuhaia, the end of the continent.

A true  sense of happiness.

The YAK_

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