The Homeless Traveler

A few thoughts from my bicycle tour before I get back to living and writing in Panama again. Now I am doubly happy to be living here!

The Silver Wheels Blog

I’m back in Panama, reflecting on my bicycle tour, and sorting out thoughts that I’ve had for a while now. I knew I would see beautiful places, face physical challenges, and be alone but I never expected to feel such loneliness. I’ve been alone on the road in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and felt fine, so why was it so different in the US?

We know that vast majority of people in the US are good people – kind, helpful, and respectful. But I was ignored even when I was requesting help. Have things changed in the US, or have my perceptions changed? Or, is it people’s perceptions of me? If I sat outside a store drinking coffee it was rare that someone would notice me, let alone return my greeting. If I was walking my bike no one asked if I was ok. I felt invisible, like I didn’t exist. When…

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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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14 Responses to The Homeless Traveler

  1. ME BE in Panama says:

    Kris, good that you’re back ‘home’ in Panama. It’s sad that you were ignored, and I suspect it has more to do with the Panamanian mentality than that in the U.S. I think we Americans tend to romanticize individuality & solitude, where many other cultures-Latin cultures especially-tend toward social & communal values. In any case, glad you’re back in David safe and sound. We’ll see you in September when we make our own way back to Panama!


    • Thanks, I’m glad to be back! I think the US is more and more a culture of fear. That came up with everyone who I could get to talk with me. They are afraid of each other, and much of it has roots in the drug problems. I don’t think the media helps either. And yes, the Latin cultures are all about friends, family, and community. We have asked people and that is always what they say is most important.


  2. Robert&Helen. says:

    Same trend in Europe. That’s very true. So different in Latin America. I am an expat for 29 years. Africa, Spain, Caribbean and now since january 2015 in Boquete. Even people here on the street that you do not know you, are saying buenos días. Since 2003 we have not been to Europe, mainly because of the problem you mentioned. So welcome back. Un abrazo y te vaya bien.


    • Ahh yes, you have lots of experience living in other places so I know you understand what I’m talking about. It makes a difference when you feel so acknowledged and accepted in your community. Gracias amigo 🙂


  3. Yolande Scotland says:

    Kris, I know exactly how you feel because I too, miss the friendly, caring treatment one gets in the (so-called 3rd world) countries like the one where I was born and grew up. I live in the US and every day I find myself weighing the convenience, the feeling of being near to everything against the peaceful, loving,nsafe feeling of belonging that I experience when I go home to visit. Thanks for sharing your life in Panama and your travel experiences. It feels like I am there too when I read your stories. Take care of yourself while you enjoy your world.


    • When you are raised in the US you think we are the best at everything. But, these so called 3rd world countries do a lot of things better, especially the feeling of belonging that you speak of. We all basically just want to be happy, and there are reasons the Latin countries are often at the top of the list of happy places. Thanks so much, glad you enjoy what I post 🙂


      • Robert&Helen says:

        When I worked for 2 years in Nigeria 1973-1975, it was quite something just after the Biafran War.I went twice on holidays to my native country The Netherlands. Not much changed in those days, only a lot of emigrants form our former colony Suriname that just had become independent. Old friends in the same pub. But when I worked in Spain from 1975 till 1989, when visiting my home country I observed a change as to the behaviour and customs. So I did not fit in like before. It is quite normal, when you live quite happily abroad you observe your home country differently. If you want to see nice nature, culture for a holiday. Fly to Singapur, stay for 2 days and then travel trhough Malaysia upto Thailand. Public transport is very good, lodging and food are great and not expensive.Not the live there, but it is a great experience.


        • I think that’s one of th benefits of travel and living elsewhere. You get a broader view of the world. I hope I can travel to SE Asia sometime. It’s a part of the world I’d love to experience.


  4. Carole says:

    I noticed that people are not as friendly in the states as they are in Panama. Glad you are safely at home.


  5. mcmoller says:

    I am glad you are back safely. I was just talking with a friend here in Pedasi today and we agreed we have noticed that in Panama, whether they know you or not, people always greet you with “Buena”or “hola”; and they look at you. We have had a few times when Panamanians come to the rescue when we had a flat tire or overheated engine. And my neighbor’s have helped without even asking when they saw that we had a water leak or the electrical main breakers burned out. I really believe this would never happen in the U.S. Always had to call AAA while stranded on the side of a freeway or a electrician/plumber, etc. to fix a simple problem in the home. And people very rarely would say hello and look at you unless they knew you. If you say hello to a stranger, they would wonder what you wanted from them or why you even said anything to them. It’s just a different culture and one of the reasons we love living here in Panama now.


    • Yes, I know you understand what I am talking about because you have seen it all yourself. I didn’t even realize how critical this culture has been to my happiness until it was taken away.

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  6. LIANE MARQUES says:

    Welcome back to Panamá !


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