• 16 October 2021





The entrance procedure to Panama was different compared to that of all the other countries I entered so far. Panama was the second country I entered during the outbreak period but was the first after a year. Let’s list the countries I exited taking a flight and the reason:

UK – Spain (Island country, there is a sea in between)
Tunisia – Israel (Civil wars in Libya and Egypt)
Bahrein – Qatar (Island country, there is sea in between)
Oman – Ethiopia (Actually I intended to pass through Yemen but there was civil war.  The Red Sea in between)
South Africa – Argentina (Atlantic Ocean in between)
Colombia – Panama (Actually there is an unofficial road without passport control but we cannot use it). What I learned from the Colombian and Panamanian officials and folk: That region is under the control of drug cartels where narcotics are produced and human trafficking is done. Furthermore, it is said that the animals habiting the tropics are dangerous but not as much as the human being him/herself! Therefore, there is not an official road connecting these countries and so also not a border gate.

In short, I don’t use other transport vehicles but bicycle if I’m not obliged to. I’m continuing my world tour only on bike and the last 10 years nothing happened to disturb my idealistic behavior. I had stated at the beginning of my world tour that I’ll not use a transport vehicle other than bicycle unless I’m not obliged to!

Before I start to my journey in Panama, first let me expand what I mentioned above. What I’ll write are my own arguments resulting from my own observations and readings. Well, what are we talking about in the 21st century,impossibility to control wild (!!) animals, drug cartels, human trafficking? The region between Panama and Colombia is called Dairen Gap. Well, all what I counted is present (wild animal, drug cartels, human trafficking) but to put to end is only a matter of will of the giant world companies, a matter of just a finger snap. Why that finger is not snapped till now?! J

In 1974 a high way project was run with 50 million USD budget. More than 50000 companies were specified to be established in this region. Then number of towns to be established were specified. Also, the diversity of agricultural products, the amount of investment on fishing industry, etc. etc. all were specified. The due date was 1978. Who was expected to fund this project? EU? No, of course USA was asked for funding. Panama doesn’t own such a budget to fund this project. Well, what about the income from the Panama Canal? 36% of the canal income flows into the country which has a significant impact on the country’s economy. But Panama does not own the Canal and is not allowed to use the money according to its own

The owner of the Panama Canal is USA! It’s a property of USA with its own commission, ambassador, engineers, financiering. Let me tell you this way, Panama Canal brings 3 billiard USD income per year. About 1 billiard USD is transferred to Ministry of Treasury of Panama (actually how much money is transferred to the treasury and how it is used is a matter of question, this is Latin America here). I’ll just say “yeah, sure” to the statement “the Panama Canal is owned by Panama”! What is produced in Central America, particularly in Panama, which significantly contributes to the economics? Who is supporting the regular production of the goods if there are any? Whose goods will be transferred to where if the roads are to be constructed? Which countries in North America have industrial economic structure, USA and Canada. Well, aren’t those countries importing raw materials from South America? The countries who will use the constructed roads, directly or indirectly, will be the same countries actually. So, those countries will benefit from the project. They will still benefit spending a budget of 100 million USD instead of 50 million USD.

Which countries own the mines? USA and Canada, in other words the companies centered in these countries. Let’s take a look to over ground, vegetables, fruits, the land belongs to foreign corporations. The coffee plantations in South America are very important. For example, Colombia has 40 billion USD income per year from coffee export. Unfortunately, this process is threatened by climate change. And also cocaine production. Cocaine is produced particularly in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Just to remind, please and please don’t call people visiting Colombia as Escobar, Escobar. Well, also I don’t understand why visitors talk about this man. Let’s empathize. If friends of a visitor going to Turkey say: “Visit the prison were Abdullah Ocalan (leader of PKK) is put in, talk to his relatives.” Would you like this? Why do you talk about and celebrate a man who killed innocent people! I just don’t understand the Escobar passion in my country!

Well, some part of the cocaine production is done in Dairen Gap region. The sea transportation is easy from here. So, would they give this nice area over to anybody? Another production area is the Amazonas region between Brazil and Colombia. It is estimated that Colombia has a 10 billion USD income per year due to cocaine production. This amount of many would enrich many countries. Well, would they built a main road open to everyone through this production area? On the other side, the money income from cocaine needs to be integrated into the system and you cannot do it with a grocery. In short, to change the production area where such a high amount of USD income is ready and the wheel turns, why to derange? For these reasons, a road won’t be constructed through this area. But if some day it becomes impossible to grow coca leaves in this region due to climate change, well then the two countries will be connected by a road. A sham-fight let’s say, everyone blinksat this situation.

Due to Covid outbreak, the regulations at the borders change at certain intervals. The same happened at the Panama border. Just before entering the country, a new regulation was effectuated. Now, at the entrance to the country a new PCR test is required.

I had taken a PCR test in Columbia 2 days before my flight. Arriving at the airport in Panama, before passport control we were directed to the PCR testing area where counters were established. It was very crowded. I had to wait for 45 minutes. While waiting in the queue I used the time to guess the nationalities of the passengers waiting in the line. Mostly people coming from South America, Africa and Asia. There weren’t any North Americans or Europeans in the queue. The price of the PCR test is 85 USD, I had paid only 50 USD for the same test in Columbia just before boarding the plane. I thought the test results would be sent to the hotel I’m going to stay at because at the border I was asked to give the hotel address.  But this was not the case! I had to wait in the transit area for 2 hours for the test result. The result was negative and I thought: “Well, at the end, it is already 6 p.m. Now, I can go to the hotel and rest.” But resting in the hotel room was just a dream, everybody arriving in this country for touristic visit were gathered at the main hall. We were told that they will take us to a hotel where we would to stay in quarantine. Really interesting!

As you were going to put us in quarantine anyhow, even though were all had bordered the plane with negative PCR test results, why didn’t you do it as soon as we entered the country? Why did we have to wait for 2 hours at the airport for nothing? You could take the PCR test at the quarantine area.

We were lodged for 4 days in a hotel near city center. It was very boring and I had a headache due to just staying inactive. I can’t stand so much immobility for long time. My headache disappeared as soon as I jumped on my bike. Before leaving the hotel I had to take another PCR test and only after the negative result they released me. Three PCR tests within 2 weeks, I could just spit! I paid 150 USD for bicycle transport on plane, 250 USD for Colombia-Panama flight ticket and 220 USD for the PCR tests. This bloody course between two neighbor countries cost me 620 USD.

Anyway, after this adventure I managed to go out with my bicycle. In those 4 days I assembled my bike ready to set off. I also noticed the problem on the front derailleur. Actually, this derailleur was troublesome from the first day on. It didn’t function properly the first day but then after some tinker with, I managed it to activate. We talked about this with Yasin, even we have a funny memory. There are two chain rings on crank but this bicycle has only one shift lever. How come? I checked inside the box but couldn’t find it. I asked Yasin where the other shift lever is, but he also didn’t know. We couldn’t figure out how this lever functioned. Anyway, after talking to Shimano the situation cleared out. This was a one shift lever system. After assembling the bicycle in Panama this shift lever system didn’t function. I thought first to go to the hotel and then fix it there. At the hotel I realized that a plastic piece inside the shift lever was broken. I took it to the Shimano service, they told me the same, it was broken. It would take months to receive the order, so nothing to do, I’ll continue to travel through Panama till Costa Rica with this broken shift lever. If I find a bike repair shop in Costa Rica or somewhere on the road, I’ll reduce the chain ring to one on crank and change the rear cassette system to 11-50 or above to cut-out the front derailleur.

I’m staying at Eden’s Garden, a hostel situated at a good neighborhood of the city.  Due to the outbreak, the hostel rooms are not so crowded. 4 people are allowed to stay at an 8 people room.  The prices are somewhat higher. I paid 16 USD for a 4 people room, breakfast included (June 2021). In this neighborhood I could go out at night and walk to entertainment locations around. For the last two days, I checked out form the hostel and checked in a hotel at the city center 8 km away from the hostel. This time I paid 20 USD for a single room, breakfast not included.

It is unreasonable to walk around on the streets at night. In this neighborhood, though police is present everywhere, there are deserted areas where there is nobody on the street, nobody. How come I know this? I walked at night. Though Panama seems a secure country, I don’t advice you to walk at night on streets at city center and its surroundings.

I met Nergis working at UN and assigned to Panama thanks to my friend Baris living in USA. During this short period, we attended a Bicycle Day held on Sunday and had dinner in various restaurants at all the 3 nights we were together. Due to outbreak, the restaurants were almost empty. Also, during the period I was in Panama, there was lockdown after 10 p.m. The Panama Channel Museum located in the old town was the only museum open during this period. Besides this, I couldn’t meet with Felipe since he caught Covid-19 virus, the leader of one of the bicycle groups in the country with whom I wanted to ride

I met Pamela, a triathlon athlete and her husband and had the opportunity to go out with them one night. They both are athletes but Pamela is a professional. Her sponsor is her husband Juan. The whole country is suitable for cycling, running and swimming. Therefore, triathlon is one of the favorite sports in this country. Furthermore, Juan and Pamelas dream was to make a cycling tour in Spain like I was doing. They are Colombian but did not come to a thought to do a similar cycling tour in their country. I think their country is worth for such a travel but they don’t feel safe in their country. What can I say?

Two bomb vehicles exploded in the city center of Cucuta which I had passed through one month ago. I witnessed what happened due to internal disorders in the country.  Colombia a beautiful country, but I can’t say that you will stay safe when you travel in your country. Well, no one can guarantee you stay safe, maybe something bad can happen when they are in Spain. But, this is also a reality Spain is a much safer country compared to Colombia.

Beginning/Entrance, Panama city

Let’s start to ride before I stay more in the city environment. My first destination is Colon at the east of the country. Panama City is at the Pacific end and Colon is at the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal.

Beginning/Entrance, Colon

We have been watching the Panama and Suez Canals on the TV’s since hour childhood. Panama Canal enables the goods transport from the west coast of USA to the east coast of South America, Europe and Africa and vice versa.

Why did I mention the USA as the base country for Panama Canal? Because the Panama Canal is a sole American production, constructed for the American goods to reach the world market.

I first saw the Canal from the entrance of Panama City but didn’t recognize much. You need to see it from the second bridge. “Dude, how come it is handmade, what an insane project?”

I’m not going to write how this Panama Canal was constructed step by step, you may find enough detailed information on Google. What caught my attention was that first the French engineers started to dig. But then, economic troubles in Europe before the First World War and after that the war itself hindered the French from continuing, and the USA hadn’t seized the opportunity.

There are cities at both ends of the Canal. Panama City of the Pacific side and Colon on the Atlantic side. Both cities completely differ from each other. I thought to ride in a day from one coast to the other, starting the day at the Pacific coast in the morning and ending at the Atlantic cost in the evening. A road just 90 km long. But I must admit that it was not so pleasant to ride on. The road is packed with trucks and half of the road is without shoulder.

Anyway, I arrived in Colon and my first response was “Dude, what a town?” “What a contrast, the two ends of this country have a completely different look and population. I had read the memories of some cyclists about Colon. Entering the city center you directly feel that something is wrong. In this city, my defense mechanism directly took over as happened before in some African towns. My radar screen and visual perception opened immediately which was inactive for the last 4 years. At those moments, I recognize the license plates of the motorcycles passing by or slow moving cars and check their drivers and passengers. I look at trousers and shoes of the motorcyclists, at the people standing in the corners or at the clothes of the people looking at me while talking to each other. I look at the GPS before leaving the main street and rejoin after riding two blocks on side streets, at the same time check whether a car follows me, and some other details. What I’m doing is not paranoia but just precautions (lets say life experience). I know that 4 cyclists were robbed in this city. On top of it, one was robbed during day time and he complained that the police didn’t help. I’ll ride to the end of the city, in any case. I recognize the eyes looking at my bicycle while riding towards the end of the city. I started to enter the side streets and started to do zigzags towards the beach. Arriving at the beach I found a relative quiet place and recorded a video. After having some rest, I started to ride to a hotel in the city center. The outside of the hotel was nice, opposing the city appearance. As I was about to enter the hotel a security came out.

Bicycles are not allowed inside. Park your bicycle over there at the open air area.

Over there where the junk cars are?

Yes, over there

Are you kidding? I came to stay at the hotel and my bike will stay with me at the hotel room.

No, I can’t let the bicycle in.

Alright then I don’t stay either.

Look this guy is not a receptionist nor the owner of this hotel. He is the security staying at the entrance. If you are good in your job you would check my bags for bombs or weapons and I wouldn’t say anything. But, as you see he was an asshole.

I moved a 100 meters, just to find a place before the rain, a man blocked my way.

Hi, you must be new in the town. You are crossing this place for the 3rd time. Don’t record videos with your camera, I advise you to exit this city not taking a single photo. Don’t trust the police, don’t trust anyone in this city. You’ll find a place to stay outside the city, and also don’t look at any hostels…

– Wow… thank you. Is this city that dangerous? (by the way I’m not trusting this man either and I am on the alert looking around if there is someone else)

Yes, this city is dangerous.

-Well, thank you again

Never before had anyone warned me like this in a town. I need to find a safe place outside the city before it starts raining. Lets continue towards the bridge, tomorrow I’ll anyway cross the bridge to complete my Canal tour. I get permission to camp inside the garage of a police station in a small town called Margarita. : ). That’s a good one. I didn’t need to pay and on top of it found a safe place to stay at.

The next day I’m at the exit of the Canal on the Atlantic coast. Wuhuu, from here you can see the most spectacular view of the Panama Canal. After crossing the bridge, you can see the canal lock.

There are two entrances or exits on the canal. Canal locks were constructed for large and small ships. I saw similar locks in the Netherlands and Germany, of course in much smaller size. Today is father’s day and I met many cyclists on the other side of the bridge. They were celebrating father’s day on bikes. They gave me some drink and we shortly chatted. By the way they also celebrated my father’s day though I’m not a father yet.

It is possible to make a complete tour around the Panama Canal but only with mountain bike. After a while the roads turn into a rocky and redsandy road. Also, it is not advisable to make this tour during the rainy season. I almost lost my bike in the mud. After a while I stopped to ride because the tires were no longer grabbing the road starting to slip. Inside the national park there is a school for the indigenous and I could easily camp inside the school as usual.

As soon as I pitched my tent it started to rain, raining like cats and dogs. I really got afraid, either the roof will collapse or the wind will blow my tent. The heavy rain didn’t stop till the next morning. Occasionally I woke up to check if the tent and surroundings is still dry. Some years ago I faced a bad experience (Botswana memories)which I never want to experience again. Due to the rain, I didn’t set off the next day. Luckily, I have enough food and water. The day after I’ll arrive in a place where I can get food for sure, if not there are farms at which I can ask for some food. Anyway, I prepared my bicycle and left the school. Just after 50 meters I stopped my mouth open. The creek which I could easily pass two days ago turned into a river. Dude, a real river. It is impossible to cross. Later when I talked to some farmers around I was told that all the other creeks were the same. I’m done. The adventure of taking a whole loop along the Canal ended right here. Dude, I cycled 75 % of the route already. Anyway, it wasn’t meant to be, maybe another time.

I had to return till the Atlantic coast and from there continued to ride till Punta Chame. It is an interesting place, famous for kite surfing. But, I was told that the best time for kite surfing was between November and April. It was June when I arrived there, outside tourism season. It was empty and nice. Not many places were open but Sole Beach Club was suitable for camping. It was a kite surfing area and the owner was a young German. His best friends were Turks in Germany. He showed me a good place to camp and I stayed there for 4 days. If I had arrived during the season I would definitely learn kite surfing at this place. It wasn’t meant to be. This adventure is left for another corner. He opened this business before the outbreak. But unfortunately, the outbreak affected his business badly for 2 years. He had spent all his savings in this, so he doesn’t want to quit. He is hoping for a good season from November 2021 to April 2022. I really admire such people a lot. He is struggling but still fighting. I have a feeling that he will be very successful. If you go some day to Panama and stay at this place, say hello from me.

I crossed Panama riding on the main road parallel to the Pacific coast. To go directly to Costa Rica, there is only one alternative route till the town David. After David the road continues towards Atlantic coast. It is also possible to continue along the Pacific coast to Costa Rica. But one of the important spots in Panama is the town Boquete. I would advise everyone traveling to Panama to visit this town. The dwellings of the town are just ordinary looking but its surroundings and the nature is beautiful. Furthermore, the biggest coffee farms in Panama and also the farm selling the worlds most expensive coffee beans are located here.

Everyone knows that I’m establishing a coffee business. I gave the start in Colombia. I don’t know whether this business will expand or not, yet. But, since there are farms producing various coffee beans, why not to visit them and make some acquaintances.

I came to the entrance of Boquete. There is 1400 m climb from David till the entrance of the town and exactly at this point there is a cafe. It has a spectacular view. I took my camera out and started to record a video, talking while looking through the frame. I saw two cyclists on the frame. Two touring cyclists, hahaha. Well, when did I see touring cyclist lastly? Mmmm. A long time ago. Lastly in Peru? Yep, in Peru in 2019. Stopped recording. They also recognized my bicycle… We started to smile each other, actually this was worth recording. Those, vital moments.

LOOK.. This a completely different thing. I never hug people I encounter on the road like this since the start of Covid-19. But touring cyclists like us, no matter which virus infection, never will give up this. How I hugged Nathan when I first saw in Uzbekistan in June 2010, Sandrine opened her arms we hugged each other and then with Steve. This ceremony is always the same, never changes…. Hugging each other means we share, we admire, we congratulate each other since we know the challenges the road brings to us. Even, we sometimes cry, then laugh while crying. A very emotional moment.

Steve and Sandrine had started their journey from France. They decided to marry after a long engagement andthen to set off for a world tour on bikes for their honey moon for 3 years. They started in France, crossed the Atlantic hitchhiking to a boat in Spain and directly arrived in Panama. They were planning to ride till Mexico and from there again hitchhiking to a boat to Asia. After completing the Silk Road, which I crossed during 2010-11 on bike, they will ride till France. That’s what a honey moon should look like.

While first planning to stay at the fire station in Boquete, I decided to stay at the hostel where they were going to stay, cooking and chatting with them. We are riding to Topas Hostel located near city entrance. The owner of the hostel, seeing my bicycle, smiles:

Did you ride all the way from Turkey?


I meet a Turk traveling on bike for the first time. When I was riding on bike from Germany to China in 1972 I crossed your country (he had a nice smile on his face)

In 1972? Which route did you use?

Silk road. I shook his hands. Axel set off from Germany in the 70s, completed his world tour on bike and then switched to motorcycle. He almost has visited every spot on the world by time. At the end he decided to settle down in this town in Panama. I listened to his road memories open mouth. He told me about Turkey in 70s. You could listen those years from many Turkish people but it was particularly interesting and amazing to listen from someone who traveled on bike every corner of Turkey. The most importing thing he remembered was: “The great hospitality of the people”.  Though people changed in terms of toleration, I said we still are like this.

During my stay in the town Boquete, I took video records in the town and coffee fields, visited the coffee shops. Luckily, when I was there, during these two weeks, it was the period for selection of the best coffee beans. 80 farms, customers from all over the world, juries, gourmands, etc. etc. A very active period. While I’m recording a video in Cafe Unido, a cyclist passes by and I salute him. He replies and I ask him

How was it?

I’m getting better on every day. I have to lose some weight, hahaha. Did you try the coffee of this area? It tastes good.

No, I haven’t tried it yet.

Then, I sit next to him and start to chat. I try the coffee from Geisha beans, a cup costs 10 USD. The taste of the coffee made by Geisha beans is mild but its caffeine value is the same as Arabica beans. For example, when I first tried this coffee I felt like I was drinking something else then coffee. The man I sat next to is Pedro. After chatting a while I learn that he is the one designing the coffee packages for many of the coffee producers in this region. I show him my design of my coffee package. He gets surprised.

Gurkan thats a very good design..

Thank you.

Well, you said you are travelling around the world. How come did you come to this business?

(I tell him the story of Gurkan Genc The Man with Iron Horse Coffee. You may find this story in my Colombia article on this page (This article will be published only after the start of this coffee business))

-You entered a very good business. Come to the Cafe in the afternoon, I would like to give you Geisha beans as a present.

Alright, see you then.

Furthermore, I would like to introduce you to a couple of coffee producing farmers.

Wow, it would be great.

Dude, thinks happened not planned ahead. I just came in to say hello and then continue.  After all, after this meet with Pedro, during lunch he brought Geisha beans from one of the fields nominated in 2020 and let me try the coffee made from these beans at the cafe we met. It is hard to find these beans in such cafes. A cup of coffee made from the beans of a famous farm for example costs 40 USD or more. I tasted coffee in various countries made form beans grown at different altitudes and land varieties but cannot say that I’m a coffee gourmand. The Geisha beans, doesn’t matter they are nominated or the most expensive beans in the world, they are not my taste. After drinking our coffee, Pedro gave the rest of the beans in the package as a present. Enough for 4-5 cups of coffee worth of at least 100 USD. I said to the barista:

Pardon me, can you grind this beans and put in a bag?

– Mr. Gurkan, you have to put these coffee beans into a sealed bag right after grinding. Otherwise they’ll lose their aroma.

– You are right. But I don’t own a grinder to use during my travel. (I definitely will add this item in the upcoming months or years, but no need for now)

Another day I rode on my bicycle to the farm where the world’s most expensive coffee beans were produced and then to the other farmers whose phone numbers Pedro gave me. Hmm, this farm lies at 1580 m altitude, 100 m lower than the farm from which I sent the beans to Turkey. The first owner of Elida Estade Cafe was an American engineer who came to work for the Panama Channel construction at the beginning of 1900s.  He bought a farm land in 1918 and started to produce coffee. The most important feature of this region is that it is surrounded by volcanoes. Therefore, the soil also affects the aroma of the coffee bean. They started to produce Geisha beans in this farms at 1960s.

Geisha beans, as all the other coffee bean varieties, were brought to Panama from Ethiopia in 1930s. A different aroma was developed at the Geisha beans to be sent to a competition in 1995. At first, they thought the beans were spoiled but then decided to send those beans to the competition and won a prize. After that, the name of the farm became famous.

At last, Geisha beans earned the most expensive beans title in 2019 in Japan, 500 g of Geisha beans sold for 1029 USD. You may drink a cup of coffee made by this high quality beans produced in this farm for 80 USD. Well, in my country the most expensive coffee bean is known as the coffee pooped by Luwak, 500 g costs 480 USD. There is a huge difference in between. From here I declare THE MOST EXPENSIVE COFFEE BEAN PRODUCED IN PANAMA is the one produced in this farm, and it is not fermented and pooped by an animal.

Well, how come are these beans that expensive and why? The main difference of Geisha beans compared to the others, is their soft taste. It is an ideal taste for the coffee drinkers using sugar to mild the taste of the coffee, well if they like the aroma of course. Don’t get be scared by the prices of these beans. Besides not all Geisha beans are produced in this region in Panama, also not all the beans are produced at this high quality standards, as in this farm which is a hard process.

Every producer applies a different procedure during drying. Therefore, you find various Geisha beans from different regions. Let me add that, I planted the coffee trees on May 20th 2021 with my own hand on a good fertile land 2 km ahead from the point I got the Geisha beans which I had sent from Columbia. I plan to export this high quality beans from Colombia earliest in 2025 or 2026 as my own brand. Before, let me introduce the Geisha beans I tested in another country.

The reasons why these beans are expensive in Panama and especially in this region are land, altitude, harvesting process and plus main coffee importing countries don’t like the taste of these beans. The countries that like and import these beans are Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. The country which imports the best beans is Japan. Did this surprise me? No, not at all. Hearing the importing countries, I told the owner of the coffee farm:

I observed that Asian people don’t like strong spirits like whisky, vodka and such cocktails during my travels to Asia years ego. Even, they prefer soft non-alcoholic drinks in their daily life. Therefore, Asian countries liked those beans. I don’t think there isa market for these beans in Europe or Middle East, either we never sold these beans in my shop.

Yes Gurkan, as you pointed out, the export destinations of these coffee beans are not Europe or Middle East. Those countries may import these expensive beans from other countries but not from Panama. Well, on the other hand our amount production is just enough to meet this market.

-Well, what if I want beans from you? : )

Alright, lets talk

The knowledge and experiences I gained from here are more than enough. I leave Sandrine and Steve behind and continue towards Caribbean coasts. I cannot describe the route now but just a short notice. If a cyclist wants to take a similar route, the road from Boquet to the ferryboat departing to Bocas Island takes two days but with a steep climb. And if it rains when you are passing then it is a real adventure.

I arrived at night to the place where the ferryboats to Bocas depart. Therefore, I was looking for a place to stay at. Well, there is a hotel but I arrived late and don’t want to pay just to sleep in a hotel room. Let’s first try the fire station than the police station options. I was not allowed to camp at the fire station neither at police station at the port. But I was told that the police station at the city center would allow me stay and I directly went there. I was given a good place to stay at and on top of it shower, food and the WIFI password. May god bless them.

You may prefer speed boat for 6 USD or regular ferry boat for 5 USD. You may buy some snacks in the town before boarding the ferry boat. Not even tea or coffee is sold on the board. The ferry arrives in one and a half hours to the island. I rode a short tour around while waiting to meet Esin who invited me to their boat. The island was pretty quiet, I liked it. I guess before Covid-19 it used to be very crowded.

Esin and Malcom had lived for many years in Bodrum where they had a boat business. Then, 4 years ago they started to travel with a catamaran. Traveling like this with two kids is a real adventure. They invited me to their catamaran.

I spent two days on their catamaran. Actually, they invited me to stay more but I’m not a boat’s man. A boat life is not for me. Alright the oceans, the seas and the coasts are yours when you travel with boat but in a boat I feel like I’m locked inside a box or a cage. Well, everyone has his/her own way of travel. Every travel type has its own cons and pros and will change from person to person. For example, traveling with a caravan seems more logical to me. Anyway, Melody and Dalen are growing on a catamaran which I find super. What caught my attention, the kids were both fearless. They were curious and energetic and their relation to the kids on the other boats at the port is nice.

You may start to follow this nice family on their Instagram address Tales of twins and sail. There are 4-5 more islands around and transportation among these islands is done by boats for 5 USD. Each island has its own feature. One possesses corals, the other good waves for surfing, another has poisonous red frogs as tiny as my little finger.

On the other side of Bocas island lies the Bocas del Toro beach. It is a quiet and nice area, I liked to camp and ride on a swing. I just havent recognized how fast the time past, it was such an impressive place.

The name of the restaurant is Yaris Nori (@yarisnori) and its owner Willy. I asked if I can camp on the beach in front of the restaurant and he immediately said yes. At night while I was looking at the map in the tent, I realized that this was not only a restaurant, at the same time a hotel. Normally he could say: “what tent, stay at the hotel and pay for a room, but he didn’t say that. In the morning while I was doing my sports outside the tent, he came next to me and asked: “Would you like to drink a cup of coffee?”. Then, we started to chat. We talked about the general situation of Panama, how Covid outbreak affected the tourism in this region, health and environmental issues, when his family came to this island, school life, etc etc. After that, before I left, Willy said:

Whenever you want, you can come here and stay, either in the tent or in a room. If not, take care of yourself, you are a good man Gurkan.

We didn’t shake hands but hugged each other. I said one day I’ll come back and then set off. Sometimes it is pretty hard to say good bye to such hearty people. His invitation came from his heart.

Before going back on the road, I have to do a last thing. I got informed that I can be vaccinated at the hospital the Astra-Zeneca vaccine and the Covid test was for free. Lets do it. I may need it in Costa Rica. I went to the hospital and was asked when I was diagnosed positive for Covid. Two months ago I caught my second Covid-19virus. So, I was not vaccinated. But, I’m sure besides PCR test at the borders other things will also be requested in close future.

Dude, I said this and faced an incredible application at the Costa Rica entrance. I was asked to make a health insurance with 50 000 USD limit and 2000 USD covering the quarantine period. For this 30 days limited insurance I was asked to pay 167 USD which is only valid if it is done in their country. The PCR test? Well, they don’t want a test. They just f…k the visitors at the entrance. At the exit of the country they ask for a PCR test. Dude…. Well, the next country is Costa Rica.


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