Some mornings I wake up and think, “I live in Panama!” And then I think how crazy this is and how surreal. But most days it seems pretty normal. I live, work, and hang out with people just like I did in the States. The culture is different of course, and everyone speaks Spanish. Instead of saying “hello,” we say “buenas” to people we pass in the hallways and in the streets. The traffic is very intense. Panamanians are usually laid back about time except when they get in a car. Suddenly everyone is in a huge hurry to reach their destination.
The little subdivision I live in called Clayton or the “Ciudad de Sabes” (City of Knowledge) is green and lush with palm trees and tropical plants. It rains almost every afternoon around three – just in time for school to let out. The birds that I hear each morning as I get ready for school sing different songs than the ones that sang outside my bedroom window in Ohio. Small animals called “Nueches” that look like a cross between a rat and a rabbit run around our little neighborhood. I think they look as bizarre as a platypus.
The school is much like schools in the States, except of course, the students are bilingual and it is normal to hear conversations in Spanish before class begins and in the hallways. I teach English 9, World Literature, American Literature, and Creative Writing at CCA, and I love it. I love the mix of cultures, interacting with teachers and families who are some of the most loving people I have ever met.
I could go on about life in Panama, about the trip to the beach, shopping, food, and little accidental escapades, but I’ll save those for another entry.
As my students say: Yolo – You only live once. Make the most of it.