We’re back home after our trip to the USA. This is the longest stretch of time away so far (6 months). I always wonder how it will feel, and it’s usually something I didn’t expect that strikes me the most.
- For the first day or two I had to remind myself to greet people in English.
- People are TALL! Panamanian people tend to be smaller so it felt very different when most people were my height or more.
- I saw a lot of tattoos and piercings and occasionally smelled cigarette smoke, something quite rare in Panama. (I also noticed that the price of cigarettes is quite astonishing!)
- It’s quiet. I woke up this morning to the neighbor’s rooster crowing, doves cooing, hummingbirds fussing, and a number of other birds singing, chirping, and calling, and realized I hadn’t heard that for a while.
- It’s COLD! Of course it is. It’s winter up there, but I have become even more of a wuss after months of constant warm weather.
When I go back I always have a list of things to bring back. Since I’m bigger than the Panamanian women it’s hard for me to find clothes and impossible to find shoes for my size 12 feet. On this trip I came back with –
- Shirts – I found a great breathable, sun blocking, cool, comfortable shirt at the Columbia store for $60. I found two more on ebay for $25, much more affordable for me.
- Shoes – I love Keens (also found on ebay at good prices) Now I have two new shoes and a pair of sturdy hiking shoes.
- Cold weather clothes – two long pants and two long sleeve shirts that can double as underwear when needed for cold protection. Since I also get cold at higher elevations here these will be great to have.
- Bike toys – a bike computer and heart rate monitor, and another pair of bike shorts from REI. I also got two headlamps (flashlights you wear on your head) for adventures in the jungle or who knows what else.
- Backpack – I think in most of the travels we want to do will be much easier with backpacks. My $60 one I bought here works great, but everything we saw there was a lot more expensive. So, a bit of internet shopping, and another like mine was waiting in CA for my husband.
- Things that smell good – my neighbor said perfumes, bath gel, creams, etc are a lot more expensive here than in the US so she asked me to get her a few things. I had fun picking put a bag full of nice things, and she doesn’t know that there is another bag full that may appear for her birthday or Christmas 😀
Everyone seems to have a shopping list when they go back to the US. We can find almost everything we need here but sometimes there is something – a certain spice, a favorite brand of clothes, your cat’s favorite treat, that special foot cream. The list is different for everyone. We can shop on line and have things shipped here if necessary, but if you’re going north anyway it’s easy to pick up those few things.
It was a great trip back and I had such a wonderful time with my family! (I have more photos that I may get around to posting.) But, it’s also really good to be back home. Here I feel a different calmness, happiness, joy of living, and sense of community. I love the greetings and the smiles that light up faces. I love feeling like I belong, that I’m accepted. It’s funny. I always felt like a foreigner in my own country. Here no one cares if you are Christian or atheist, if you are gay or straight, if you are rich or poor, if you are young or old, if you are light or dark, if your house is fancy or modest, or any of the other factors we usually judge people by. They only care if you are friendly, kind, and have love in your heart. It’s really easy to feel at home here.