This is a blog about cycle touring and my adventures on my bike. I’m writing it solely to record my own thoughts and experiences, so I don’t forget any of it. If it is useful or entertaining for anyone else, so much the better.
I’m Kris, 63 yr old woman from the USA, retired and living in Panama since October 2012. (There is a whole blog about living in Panama here – http://blog.thepanamaadventure.com/ ) After moving to Panama I bought a bike and started riding, and found I really liked it. I have gradually gotten stronger and able to ride greater distances, and when I discovered the idea of touring it sounded like something I wanted to try.
My first tour was in March 2015. I took the bus from David to Santiago, Panama (the highway was under construction and not safe for bicycles). Then I biked to Chitre, stayed overnight, and then biked down to Pedasi where I spent a couple days with friends.
All went well and I liked it enough to try another tour. In June/July 2015 I biked from David, Panama to Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. I had a great time! It took me 10 days to get there, and I returned on the bus (an interesting contrast to the freedom of riding a bike which I will write about at some point). Between this good experience and talking with other cyclists we host from time to time, I knew I wanted to do more.
What if I went back to the US to visit my kids, and then biked home to Panama? That’s a very crazy idea. It would take months. But, the idea kept growing in my head until eventually, I thought why not? I have met many cyclists who have traveled great distances. Some are on their way from Alaska to Argentina, and some are even on around the world trips. Why couldn’t I make it from Seattle to Panama? Well maybe because I’m a lot older than most of them, and female, and solo. But, should I let this stop me?
As I got more serious about this idea and started talking to friends, they told me I should document my trip and get on a crowdfunding site. People would be excited and would want to support me and follow along. I don’t think I’m doing something that remarkable and unusual, but many say even my biking around town inspires them to go do the things they want to do, and encourages them to get out there without being afraid. If this blog and this experience is useful to others, that makes me feel especially good about what I’m doing.
So, this is what’s going on here. 🙂
Hi Kris, just started reading this blog and haven’t gotten very deep into it yet – my intention is to catch up and read all your posts here. But first I’d like to throw in my feedback regarding your post on loneliness on your home page (I found myself unable to add a comment under the post in question, so I’m doing the next best thing – adding my observation here):
Loneliness: I’ve lived in a few countries, and the one that I should by all rights call my own, the USA, because I was born here, and hold a US passport, is the loneliest place I have ever lived in.
I’ve lived here in three stretches – first for one year at Freshman year in college – next for six years in California (after 5 years in Europe) – and now for twenty years (after returning to India for 10 years) – and nowhere have I been as lonely as I have been here. Each time I’ve returned I’ve thought :”perhaps it will be different this time.” And each time I’ve found it’s not, it’s worse.
I used to think it was “just me” – perhaps it’s not. Reading your thoughts on the subject of loneliness in this country just gave me hope and comfort. Perhaps I’m not just some strange hermit – perhaps there’s something truly wrong with this country. Diminishing sense of community. Lack of time to do more than just scrabble for a living – at least for the majority. And while we scrabble for a living, we must of course, keep up appearances.
Not so long ago I read an article that referred to the facade we so carefully put up with our well-groomed houses and manicured front lawns – and nobody realizes the amount of drudgery that goes into this ‘keeping up appearances.’ The well-to-do of course can afford to pay others to do the work. The rest of us have less and less time for each other.
The thoughts you express on loneliness in the USA – so it’s not just me…
Thank you for your insight.
Ahh, I think I see what is going on. Posts older than 21 days can’t get more comments. I extended it to 100.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I think when you have always lived in the US, that is your normal. But when you have lived in other cultures you can see the difference, the contrast. Yes I think there are real problems and I think most of it is based in fear. Children are taught not to talk to strangers, the media spews out a constant stream of bad news, I heard about a pervasive drug problem everywhere I went, and people looked at me with trepidation when I approached them.
So interesting about the facade. People often talk about Panama being a mess, trash thrown around, things not looking good, etc. There has been a big discussion on that recently on another blog. Yes, exactly, where are the priorities? Here appearances are much less important than spending quality time with family and friends, getting things done, enjoying life, etc. and for many, simply putting food on the table and maintaining the roof overhead. It’s nice if things look good but if it doesn’t get attended to, so what?
No indeed, it is not just you.
LikeLiked by 1 person
There has to be a “happy medium” though. Trash strewn around? They have that problem in India too – and in the 20 years I was away, it seems to have gotten worse. Though there are groups now in many of the bigger cities who volunteer their time to clean up streets here and there in an effort to make an example, it doesn’t take long for things to go back to the ugly normal. And it’s not just the poor who strew their rubbish around either.
Even Prime Minister Modi started a campaigne to clean up the country, making many photo ops with broom in hand.
Perhaps it will take years to re-educate the populace to actually notice their surroundings and to make an effort to drop their rubbish in the bin and not right outside it.
Then again, there has to be sufficient municipal resources to carry away and dispose of the trash. Sometimes there are, and at other times there aren’t.
No easy answers.
There is trash but not everywhere and not everyone, and I don’t think it’s that bad but that’s only my perception. Others may be bothered if there is any laying around. I think they are working on it but the effort is starting more in Panama City. It will take a bit longer to come here, and a while to change people’s thinking and behavior. We do have very good trash pickup service here but people have to pay around $4/month. For some it can be a hardship.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Good to hear it’s not that bad and that they’re working on it. The problem with habitual strewing around of trash by the he real public has to be addressed (taken in hand?) at a very early age. If children are taught to pick up after themselves, the habit sticks, and then moves on to the next generation. There’ an interesting article on the BBC website about a village in India… I’ll post the link here.
Here’s the link I just mentioned. Two things stood out – matrilineal society, and the origins of the practice -130 years ago- i.e., when the British were there: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20160606-the-cleanest-village-in-asia
Interesting. Yes I agree, it’s going to take a different way of thinking and it’s hard to change the older folks.