Overland Travel From Mexico To Panama

“Kathleen, we have been reading your newsletter for many years and have enjoyed it. We moved to Costa Rica five years ago, own two houses there, and have given thought to visiting Panama and maybe moving there.

“Since you left International Living, your newsletter has become busier and busier. Every time I open it, I must search carefully to find everything I want to read.

“Thank you for many years of enjoyable reading.”

–Jonathan L., Costa Rica


“Kathleen, I enjoy reading your posts and am interested in moving out of the United States. I have read from other sources that Medellin has terrible air quality. I trust your opinion so would like to know what you think of the quality there.

“I have been to Quito and was in Cotacachi, Ecuador, for six months. Quito was a little hard on me, so I am concerned when I read about ‘terrible’ air quality in Medellin.

“What do you think?”

–Jimmie B., United States

Quito is at a higher elevation than Medellin, so the air is thinner. This can be hard for some people to handle–including me. I’m sensitive to high altitude and feel very unwell when in Quito but am unaffected in Medellin.

That’s the altitude factor. Then there’s the pollution factor. In my experience, having spent extended periods in both cities over years, air pollution is not nearly the problem in Medellin that it can be in Quito.

Others disagree and say the pollution in Medellin bothers them. Walking the main streets during rush hour, you might notice it. Otherwise, I never have.


“Kathleen, Lief, my wife and I are going to be in the area of Cancun in early November this year for a business trip. We are planning to travel overland from there to Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and, finally, Panama.

“One concern is transportation on the ground in these countries. We want to drive ourselves to get a feel for the land and not be tied to any particular schedule. Are you aware of any car rental service that would allow for an origination in Mexico and termination of the trip in Panama City? We would fly back to the United States from there.

“I realize it’s not like renting a car in Oregon and dropping it off in Florida, but I am hoping you might be able to offer some advice.”

–David T., United States

What you’re suggesting isn’t going to be easy to coordinate. Driving a rental through that many different countries in this part of the world will be complicated. I’d say, in fact, that this might be impossible to organize.

You could try putting this together in stages, renting anew in each country and driving to the next…where you could drop off that rental and acquire another one. This seems a more realistic approach.

Or you could make this kind of trip overland on long-distance buses…which doesn’t have to be as unpleasant an experience as it may sound at first. First-class buses in this part of the world have video screens, bathrooms, and, of course, air conditioning.

Continue Reading: Emergency Offshore Summit, Panama City, Panama

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