We had a wonderful time! The hardest thing for me with Covid was not being able to see my family, and especially the grandchildren. Video chats are OK but definitely not the same, especially with young children. Travel is more of a hassle with the covid concerns but I’m so thankful that it is possible.
We started in California. My grandson and I played lots of Minecraft, and my granddaughter (with the rainbow cast on her broken leg) amazed me with her ability to hop everywhere on one leg when she didn’t feel like using her walker. She doesn’t read and write much yet, but that didn’t stop her from finding lots of videos of other kids with broken legs. She had tips on how to manage mobility, how to dress, and what to expect at the doctor when the cast comes off. Nobody told her to look for videos. She did that all on her own!
And, good news, the cast was removed while I was there and she was given a walking boot. She was hesitant to walk on the leg at first but every day she did a bit more, and today I got a video of her running down the sidewalk on both legs, and without the boot!
Next, we went to Seattle to see my other daughter and her family. Again, we had so much fun reading books, making arts and crafts things, working in the kitchen, and I can hardly remember everything but we were busy and having fun all the time. It was cold though. Seattle is cloudy and damp in the winter and the days are short. We are such delicate hothouse flowers after decades of living in warm climates. But I was with the people most important to me so I was super happy.
Travel is more of a hassle with covid. Every country has different requirements so the poor airlines have to keep up with it all and make sure everyone has what they need to enter their destination country. I flew on United and they did their best. They encouraged social distancing (impossible IN the plane though), handed out disinfecting wipes as you got on the plane, and made announcements that masks were to be ON and only removed for sips and bites, not the whole time you had a drink or snack in front of you. But still, there are no testing requirements to travel within the US, and none to enter Panama if you are fully vaccinated so you have no idea of the status of your fellow passengers. But on the positive side, I had some really fun and interesting seat neighbors which made the hours on the plane much nicer.
It always strikes me as strange. You wake up in one world, spend some hours on planes, and are landed in a very different world all in the same day. After Panama has become my “normal”, the US looks so neat and orderly. There are road signs everywhere and no potholes in the streets, and no weeds and overgrown areas anywhere. There is SO much stuff!! There are stores and more stores and more stores, all full of things to buy. There aren’t just carrots, but sliced carrots, baby carrots, orange or white or purple carrots, organic or not, carrots with tops or without…. same with onions, multiple varieties, and yogurt, and 94 different kinds of beer, and so on. There are restaurants everywhere you look, and delivery is available for everything, and quickly.
Yet, there are still people living in the street, or in cars and vans. There are still people suffering from lack of basic health care and basic necessities. Living in the US is super expensive!! Anytime I think something is expensive here in Panama I am given a reality slap in the face when I go shopping in the US. And housing? Crazy expensive. I know California and Seattle are expensive areas but sheesh. Nice but fairly ordinary single-family houses in my Seattle daughter’s neighborhood were selling for over $1 million, and hundreds of thousands over asking price. How do the people working in the supermarket or serving coffee afford to live? And, there are a lot of them serving coffee. There seems to be a Starbucks on everything other corner. I’m very thankful that both of my daughters have good jobs and good partners so they are doing very well. Unfortunately this is not so for too many other people.
We wake up every day and give thanks for our lives here. We have enough to cover all our expenses. We have a comfortable house, everything we need, good friends and neighbors, and health care if we need it. I’m blessed with four amazing grandkids, and I can visit whenever I want but I can’t see ever wanting to live in the US again. It just works so much better for us here, for a long list of reasons. But, I’m also thankful for the time I can spend with my family.