The 4th of July marks an important day for me, two years ago today and 20 years old, I packed up all of my things into two suitcases and moved from Kentucky to Panama with my dog Riley. It’s a little ironic to move to another country on the day mine is celebrating independence, but I was on a budget and it’s cheaper to travel on the 4th of July. I started with the plan of just coming for a semester of school here and then gradually kept extending it until I finally decided to finish school in Panama. I actually just finished my last class two days ago, so now I’ll be trying to figure out what else Panama has in store for me.
On Facebook and my blog I tend to show the best that Panama has to offer. Panama is a great country but it’s not always an easy glamorous life at the Trump pool. Here are some of the behind the scenes things that have happened over the last two years:
– I have had several days where I have had to walk through a foot of water during rainy season because the street drainage systems are not good enough.
-Many times I have waited over an hour for a Metrobus, and when it finally arrived the only space available was where the door opens and even that was a squeeze for me. Then it would take almost another hour to get to work because of construction and traffic.
– When I had a problem with my cell phone, I had to go to the store three times to get it fixed. Each time I had to wait an hour.
– I was stuck in an elevator with 11 people and it took two hours for help to arrive.
– I know a lot of Spanish but some days I get so frustrated with the language barrier that I don’t want to talk to anyone.
– Walking through construction all the time.
– Horrible sidewalks!
– One of the times that I was at the Trump pool, pieces of concrete fell from one of the top floors where they were doing construction and onto the pool area. One of the pieces hit someones knee and it took two hours for an ambulance to arrive while he screamed in pain (and there is a hospital a five minute walk away).
– An hour wait to pay for groceries at Riba Smith (I don’t go there now unless I have to).
– Just constantly dealing with people being hours late in general.
Even though a lot of these things ruin my day at the time, it at least made the day interesting. And if I constantly focussed all my attention on the negatives of Panama (ain’t nobody got time for that) I would not get to enjoy all of the cool things that I have been able to do here. I have gotten to stand in a natural pool in the middle of the ocean, relax at some of the most luxurious city pools, island hop in San Blas, I have been in a few Panamanian commercials, Panamanian carnivals, traveled to Colombia, and partied at some awesome electronic concerts and nightclubs. Also, just having year round hot weather is amazing and I will never live somewhere that gets cold again.
I think that one of the best things about being here is just watching the country grow up. I first came in 2009 for vacation and between then and now the city has changed so much. Back then, there was basically nothing to do in the historic area of Panama in Casco Viejo. In just 4 years I have seen so many bars and restaurants open that the traffic going in there at night feels like I am driving into Calle Uruguay. There have also been several very architecturally stunning buildings that have sprouted up out of nowhere throughout the city. The Diablo Rojo (Red Devil) busses are finally gone and they are replaced by nice busses that you would expect to see in a growing city (I rode a Diablo Rojo bus one time and it is literally hell). Panama’s first subway line is also set to be completed by next year. There is still a longggggg way to go but it’s been great to see the amount of changes to infrastructure in a relatively short time.
I have also made so many great friends here and I think we have an awesome time every weekend. We start almost every weekend at my apartment for music and drinks and then head out to somewhere different each weekend. There is always something new that opens every few months so it’s pretty difficult to get bored.
The hardest part about people here is not getting to see my family all the time but I am so thankful for FaceTime. We try to use FaceTime once a week to stay in touch and it really helps it feel like less time in-between visits. We even had a FaceTime Thanksgiving dinner. I have also had family and friends visit which helps a lot.
I recently started my residency process so I won’t need to make a border run every six months and it means I am staying in Panama for the long term. I am looking forward to more time in Panama and I can’t wait to see what happens next!