Pan-American Highway Construction

The highway between David and Santiago in Panama has been under construction for quite a while. It is a huge job. They have been working hard and getting a lot done. We could see quite a difference from the last time we went through there.  But there is still a lot more to do so this job won’t be finished for some time yet. One of my big concerns is the cyclists that come through this area. I worry about their safety in heavy traffic, often with no shoulder or space to get out of the way.

The biggest concern is the part between David and Santiago because there is no alternate route. We took the bus to Panama City last week so I took the opportunity to take photographs. On the way out we were in the second row looking through a windshield with cracks, and on the way back we were in the very front seat of the upper level so until it started to get dark, it was a great place to take photos.

Just east of Guabala and the checkpoint, there is an option to take route 5 through Sona and on to Santiago. It is a bit longer and there are more hills according to cyclists who have taken this route, but it is very scenic, has much less traffic, and is safer than continuing on the highway.

But, for those who want to see what it looks like on the highway between Guabala and Santiago, here are some photos.

We are going to be so happy when the highway is finished! It’s going to be such an improvement, and such a pleasure. I suppose spending two days in a bus isn’t the greatest pleasure but it will be better when the road is smooth and the driver can make good time.

Why did we spend two days in the bus? We had a very good reason. We applied for cedulas (a permanent identification card similar to a social security card in the US) with the help of Luis, our guy in Panama City. He notified us that everything was done and they were ready for us to come in. We had to go to Panama City in person to check that all the information was correct, pay $65 each, and  get our pictures taken. We were told to wait one week and then check at the Tribunal Electoral here in David. We went in on Wednesday and as promised, our cards had been sent here and were waiting for us to pick them up.

We now both have cedulas! This is a step beyond residency and really makes us look and feel a part of this country. It also has a number that won’t change every time our passport number changes (which was our ID number before this). We didn’t have to get cedulas but I wanted to, just because it feels good and I love being a part of this country.



About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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10 Responses to Pan-American Highway Construction

  1. The bypass through Sona is so much better than the section between Santiago and the Migration checkpoint. Have done it several times now and will continue to use it until the Interamerica is completed.


  2. Brendan says:

    Hi, I’m making my first trip to Boquete 9/23. I found your blog and I am excited to see Panama!



  3. Great post Kris!
    Copa Airlines .. David to PTY on Tuesday and Wednesdays, $44 one way.
    Must book 4 weeks out.

    Till they get the highway done that will be our way to travel!

    Great pics!
    Great to see you and Joel today!
    Looking forward to our bike trip with you! in 2016.

    J & S


  4. Camilo Quelquejeu says:

    Congrats in getting your Cedulas !

    I believe that you can now get your Panamanian Passports ?


    • Thanks!
      I believe you can apply for citizenship and passports with your cedula 5 years after you get your residency, though I have heard that with our pensianado residency we would not be eligible.


  5. Sunni Morris says:

    I imagine it is dangerous for bicyclists on the road. There are many hit and runs where I live, either a person on a bicycle or a walker. There are three-four a day in every newspaper here. It’s really sad. People hurry too much all the time.



    • I think here the traffic generally doesn’t move that fast and driver are considerate of cyclists, but out on the highway where people are often trying to get across the country in the middle of all that mess, it could be a different story.


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