At customs in Panama, the last step (or so we thought) was sending all bags and luggage through an x-ray machine. When my kh24 unicycle came out the other side of x-ray, the official pointed to it and spoke a spanish phrase whose large number of words tumbled out in approximately three quarters of a second. Understanding next-to-no spanish, I managed to catch the word “fumigation”, which was accompanied by the official pointing to the bits of dirt in the tire’s tread.
Perry’s and Vince’s cycles were similarly singled out and we wheeled them over to a side room, where another official rolled them out of our sight. My unicycle re-appeared in about five minutes. It still had all the dirt, and had no odor or other evidence that anything had been done to it. Whatever.
I turned and wheeled it out of the customs room where Roland met me. He cracked up when I told him about our fumigation, and he said in fifteen years of coming to Panama many times a year, he’d never had anything fumigated. Further hilarity ensued when Vince and Perry rolled theirs out a moment later, telling us with some chagrin that they’d both been charged $10 for the process.
I have no idea if this was standard practice, or they got scammed. My shoes also had traces of dirt, but were treated in no such way.