tunnel boring machine headed for China

This truly boring story was published in the VISITOR newspaper, in April 2011. It seems the good people of Boquete thought it was for real and dozens of horrified people called the emergency services. The paper had to publish an apology one week later.


By James Spencer.

Our Raving reporter from Chiriqui.

April the 1st 2011 will mark the official opening to traffic of the 8 mile long Volcan to Boquete tunnel. This magnificent feat of engineering was the brainchild of local entremanure and businessman, Rocky Sludge. I met Rocky in a field outside Paso Ancho near Volcan as the boring machine broke through the remaining few feet of tunnel.

This wonder of Swiss engineering was set up on the Boquete side of the Volcano as a short demonstration project. Mr. Sludge contracted the owners of the Boring and Drilling and Support Services machine (or BADASS for short) to drill a short test tunnel to prove its commercial viability.

Mr. Sludge did admit however there had been a few small problems. Three miles into the test tunnel, the machine hit a small magma chamber and the molten rock poured back down the tunnel and into Boquete’s Caldera River.  The boiling river water caused the unfortunate death of thousands of fish. Normally, an incident of this nature would have been an ecological disaster but Mr. Sludge collected the boiled fish and freely distributed them to the poor people of Dolega.

There is even an unconfirmed report that some enterprising Dolegans have opened a Sushi bar.

The second problem occurred when the machine’s operator became unnerved by the molten lava. Reports say he ran screaming from the tunnel, unfortunately in his panic he failed to stop the machine and it continued cutting its way through to the Volcan side of the mountain.

I was with Rocky Sludge as the boring machine exited on the Volcan side of the mountain.

Unfortunately, as the Baddass machine emerged so did several torrents of molten lava. There is no river at this end of the tunnel so Mr. Sludge could not turn this disaster into a generous fish donation. However, he did come up with a solution.

Two members of Panama’s bobsled team happened to be passing and volunteered to enter the tunnel with 100 pounds of marshmallows.  The idea was to roast them on the magma and then freely distribute them to the poor people of Volcan. Understandably, there was concern an hour later, when they failed to reappear at the mouth of the tunnel.

With his voice choking and a tear running from his eye Rocky said. “David, It’s obvious what has happened.” Consolingly, I placed my arm around Rocky’s shoulder and he continued. “Those two thieving scumbags have stolen my marshmallows.”

MOP has been quick to capitalize on this mishap as they have used the semi cooled magma to fill all the holes in the roads of Volcan.

Later, at a press conference held in a local bar, I asked Mr. Sludge how soon would members of the public be able to use the tunnel to drive from Volcan to Boquete? He said that April the 1st was the official opening day but he did add the condition that cars would first need to change to asbestos tires. “Midtunnel is hot,” he added, “enough to melt lead so I am told.”

My final question was about the whereabouts of the BADASS boring machine. 

“Oh, dear David, that was another glitch. You see the machine tipped up and went straight down into the ground.”

“Oh dear Rocky so it’s gone for good, that’s bad.”

No David that’s good; you see I have already found a buyer for it in China – it should arrive there sometime next October.”