Stephan Schwab

Software development and farm life

Sometimes leaving can be difficult

with 4 comments

After a long day exploring the land on horseback we got back to the Jeep. We had to hurry up a bit as it started to rain and we were afraid not being able to cross the two rivers on the way out.

This is how the dirt road looked when wet. The rain wets the dirt on the top but the next layer stays dry. It does not converted into mud completely. It’s just the top layer. The result is that it’s slippery as if it were soaped. All the little rocks and stones proved quite helpful on the way out. But still it wasn’t easy as you can see further down.

While it was still raining this family showed up. You can see the mother carrying a babygirl, the father behind the horse with the motorpumps on each side and the boy, maybe 4 years old, riding it. Their oldest daughter is riding the white horse although she can’t put her feet into the stirrups yet. These people live and work on a farm closer to the end of the dirt road. In Spanish they are called “peones”. The English term in peon. The link goes to Wikipedia for further reference. The horses and the tools they carry are property of the farmer they work for. They went all the way from Buenos Aires on horseback, which might have taken them an hour up to that point. It might be another hour to reach their destination.

As we tried to get out it didn’t look that difficult – at first. Before even reaching the first river we couldn’t get up this slope. As I mentioned above the rain makes the surface slippery and without the stones and little rocks it’s difficult to maintain traction. So we got stuck and after several attempts we had the idea to use leaves and wooden sticks to give the tires something to grab onto. That didn’t work. The sticks and leaves were wet so this wasn’t helping at all.


I got out to have a closer look. The Jeep is the Rubicon model. It has differential locks both for the front and back differential. There were parts that were less slippery than others so we should get up that slope. Maybe with a little dancing and bouncing but we should get up.

Unless …

As I figured out we got stuck always at the same place. There was something like a step and as the tires were loosing traction there was not enough to climp it. It was simply blocking.


You may wonder why the car has a Texas license place. Believe me. This is not Texas. It’s definetely Panama. The reason is that the Jeep was recently imported and it was formerly registered in Texas. Getting a license plate in Panama takes a while. In my case it took 6 months.

To solve our little problem we used a machete to make ourselves a few tools and started moving dirt to fill the small canyons dug by the rain and to remove the step we couldn’t get over before.


Finally it looked a bit better. In that picture we were thinking about using some of the rocks to further improve our road but I decided to give it a try the way it was – and it worked!


Panama is quite an interesting place to live. Outside Panama City it can be a rough country. We learned our offroad lesson. Although you have a good 4WD vehicle with enough ground clearance and all the little helpers like differential lockers, you still need to carry tools. After this wakeup call the Jeep is always equipped with shovel, axe and machete. You never know …

Written by Stephan Schwab

September 7, 2009 at 12:01 am

Posted in Farm Life

4 Responses

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  1. I think you’re crazy! Anyway, you also need better tires than you have on that Jeep. They are too smooth for wet slippery terrain. Also recommend a winch mounted on the front of your Jeep to pull you out of real problems when a four wheel drive will just not work no matter what. Example, you slide off the road into a ditch and on or more of your wheels are not touching the ground.

    good luck and I will keep reading your adventures


    September 8, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    • Thanks AC for your comment. You are right. The Jeep has AT tires and it should have MT tires. It’s still amazing how well it performs even with the wrong tires :-) The reason for AT has been that most of the times we have to drive on paved roads. It’s about 250 km from where we currently live just to get to the farm. So we would be spending those MT tires in no time.

      If you like offroad, visit


      September 8, 2009 at 10:12 pm

  2. Yo
    I saw your blog on
    Very well constructed
    In fact I have been Googling for something similar for months will see me back again
    Great effort well done !
    used car utica new york

    JoJo John

    October 28, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    • John, thank you for your nice comment. I hope you enjoyed reading about the latest developments.


      October 28, 2009 at 6:36 pm

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