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  • Writer's pictureXPLORid

Panama on an empty Pan American Highway

At Paso Canoas we cross the border to Panama. The customs officer in Costa Rica asks if we are familiar with the demonstrations and roadblocks. We know about the situation, but we assume that we can pass by bicycle.

The customs officers of Panama are impressed by our story. No difficult questions, no proof required that we’ll leave the country after our visit and no luggage check.

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | Panama La Concepcion

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | Border crossing Costa Rica - Panama

First road blocks

Not far from the border we encounter the first road block. These protests started on October 20 against a contract that allows Canada-based First Quantum Minerals to operate Central America’s biggest open pit copper mine for at least another 20 years.

We can continue by bicycle. The demonstrators are very nice.

Panama City, here we come!

Just before we exit David we hit a second road block. In Las Vueltas we hit a third one. This time it’s the indigenous blocking the road. They are friendly to us as well. We are greeted and they welcome us to Panama. They excuse themselves for the circumstances and ask us if we enjoy Panama. Ofcourse we enjoy this new country. So far everyone is very kind and helpful to us.

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | A deserted Pan American Highway Panama


It’s bizar to cycle on an empty Pan American Highway. Normally this is the most busy road in Central America, now we’re having two huge cycling lanes all for ourselves. A bit creepy though as if the world has come to an end. It reminds us of the time when we were cycling through Europe during Covid.

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | Laundry day Panama

Towards San Felix there’s a very long queue of trucks and touringcars. Poor drivers! It seems like they are waiting here for a really long time. Some people are washing themselves in the nearby river. Under a truck we see a pile of logs. The drivers are literally living here. Cooking, eating, washing and sleeping.  

Homestay in Panama

A tropical rain shower makes us want to call it a day in Los Ruices. Locals told us we could spend the night at the police station, but they can only offer us a dirty shelter outside. Under the roof we notice a scruffy dog on a leash. This doesn’t really look promising to have a good night rest. At the nearby park there’s a roof as well. It looks tidier.

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | Homestay Panama

Elza and Nibardo who live nearby offer us to use their toilet. When we tell Nibardo we’re about to cook some spaghetti outside he offers us 2 big steaks and plantanas. Eventually we can sleep in Elza and Nibardo’s living room. We’re blessed again with these kind people.

Thou shall not pass

We encounter some more road blockades. At the one near La Peña one of the young male demonstrators says we cannot pass. It’s the first time someone makes a stand. He probably wants to show his power to the ladies next to him. After a short while a woman to the right directs us to pass the blockade.

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | RESPECT cyclists Panama

Leftover stock, no veggies, no fruit

After a couple of days without any restocked supermarkets we’re glad to reach Santiago. We’re told there’s more food here.

The biggest supermarket we can find, has no fresh fruits besides pineapples and some green papayas. No vegetables at all. We find 2 cucumbers at a little stand on the other side of the road. Canned chick peas and some frozen fruits for today and tomorrow. The owner of the Airbnb brings us 3 oranges from her garden. Thank you! 

Pet sitting in Playa Coronado

Just before we enter the Panamá Oeste Province the Pan American Highway seems to be open again. A lot of traffic is passing us by. The gasses are horrible and some cars pass us by very near even though it’s a 2 lane highway with a wide shoulder. We do enjoy the many thumbs up and people honking politely to us. 

Not long after we reach Playa Coronado. Here we will be cat sitting 14 years old Whiskers for 5 weeks. 

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | Hakuna Matata Panama

An old lady and a couple of strays

Whiskers has a bit of a temper, as some old ladies do. But she’s sweet, especially during the evening she likes our cuddles on the bed.

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | House and pet sitting Panama

Besides Whiskers we care for the stray cats Lucy, Cally, Tigre, Blacky, Four socks, Creamsicle and the Beast.

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | House and Pet Sitting Panama

Lucy is the only one who likes to sit on our lap. Her sister Cally is also very affectionate. 

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | House and Pet Sitting Panama

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | Viper Panama

A brown vine snake. Mildly venomous rear-fanged snake. It isn’t considered dangerous to humans. However, a bite can cause an itching sensation, possibly some redness, swelling and slight numbness. 

The first separation

Because our next cat sitting gig overlaps the one in Coronado, Linda takes a taxi to transport her bike and all of our luggage to Panama City. 

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | House and Pet Sitting Panama City

On Isla Naos we’re taking care of Yoda and Patio. Two cats who live in a beautiful apartment overlooking the entrance of the Panama Canal. Daily all sorts of transport vessels pass by. There’s a big pool and a gym.

Life's good!


On Boxing Day Ben is cycling from Playa Coronado to Isla Naos. Riding a naked Mr Blue Sky, Ben achieves a top performance this day: 85 kilometers in 4 hours! 

Linda isn’t expecting him so early, but his bicycle rings and gives it away. He made it! Sooo quickly! We can celebrate Boxing Day together. Linda treats Ben to a nice dinner with homemade vegan chocolate mousse and ginger beer. 

Parque Natural Metropolitano

We arranged a secure parking space for Mrs Sunshine and Mr Blue Sky at Greenhouse Coffee. Thank you for the service! After a nice raw Kombucha we head out for the Sendero Los Caobos, Sendero La Cienaguita, Camino del Mono Titi and the Sendero El Roble.

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | Parque Natural Metropolitano Panama City

The trails are nice and quiet in the morning. There’s lots of shade. We especially enjoy the lookout to the city. It’s beautiful.

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | Panama Canal Panama City

The forests along the Panama Canal may be relatively small but important. Unfortunately, forests in many countries are being cut down faster than we can save them. They are threatened by over development. The Parque Natural Metropolitano helps with the difficult work of preserving forests in Panama. 

First time seeing a sloth! 

We are fortunate to meet a guard who shows us a sloth. We didn’t notice it ourselves. It’s the first time Linda gets to see one. He’s high above in the tree scratching himself. 

Preparing for our house and pet sitting gigs in Curaçao

On our last cycling day of 2023 we cycle from Isla Naos to our house and pet sitting gig in Ocean Reef Islands. We are happy to be able to store our bicycles and luggage over here. In this way we can go to our pet sitting gigs in Curaçao with solely hand luggage. 

At Canal House Panama we’re lucky: a big ship is just passing by and entering the Panama Canal. 

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | Panama Canal Panama City

On our way to Ocean Reef Islands we take the Cinta Costera and have a look at Casco Viejo. Early in the morning traffic is still low in the busy December month. 

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | Panama Viejo Panama City

We find a shoe repair shop in the city. Finally we can repair Linda's sandals.

Happy new year!

We pre-celebrate new year’s day because we’re separated again due to overlapping gigs. We raise our glasses on our nomadic cycling and pet sitting life. Every day should be celebrated.

Life is a gift!

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | Canal House Panama City

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | Route Panama part 1

XPLORid | Cycling Nomads | Route Panama part 2


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