Feliz año nuevo!!! Seems like just yesterday I was enjoying some In-n-out with my family. Oh wait, I was! Yeah!! I’m finally back in Panama after spending a wonderful two weeks in good ol’ #murica!
When I say I had the best time ever, I mean:
While I’ll be talking about things I did at home, this post is honestly a thanks to my family and friends who made my trip home so special and memorable. From waiting for me at the airport with the cutest banner ever and gorgeous flowers (pictured below), to cooking my favorite soup in the world (#SopaDeRezForever) I could not have chosen a better way to spend my holidays! Some really good family friends, Andy and Jennifer, even put together a dinner for me during my first week, and it was so wonderful to be reunited with family again. My mom, grandma and aunts took turns cooking my favorite foods, and it was everything I could have asked for and more. Thanks again darlings! Besos! A special thanks to my mom for always going out of her way to make it feel like I was never even gone in the first place. I LOVE YOU MEL! ❤
We celebrated Christmas and New Years, and also celebrated my mom’s and sister’s birthdays. Wolfie and I went on a safari wine tour. I met up with my best friend for sushi, and got to catch up. I tried to renew my license, only to discover I had to retake the written test AND take a new picture on a less-than-flattering hair day, BUT I PASSED! Aly, Alex, Wolfie and I scored free tickets to my first football game all thanks to my madrina’s boss. I got to complain about cold weather. I missed Toby terribly and constantly texted my neighbors, asking for pictures of my little fur ball. Gracias Amanda! We payed a visit to the Endeavour space ship. Most importantly, however, I got to spend time with my loved ones after being away for 10 months.
Being able to go home during my Peace Corps service was a very important factor during my application process. Because my family is so tight knit, visiting home had been in the books for a while. Right after school let out, I was (pretty much) left with nothing else to do but pasear and read. I’m lucky to have so many welcoming neighbors in my community who invite me into their homes so often. I did, however, start feeling guilty that I wouldn’t be spending the holidays in my community because it would have been an entirely new, and out of my comfort zone experience for sure.
From what I’d been told, Christmas wasn’t as big of a deal, as New Years Eve. The kids told me that in Panama it’s tradition to set off fireworks all night. This wasn’t hard to believe because my parents had shared with me that the same thing went for El Salvador. That, and the fact that kids started buying fuegos artificiales since the end of November. My poor Toby got so scared when really big fireworks went off. While there was no going back on my trip back home (who even pays for flight insurance?), I still felt guilty because I thought that in going home, I would not be allowing myself to get the full Peace Corps Panama experience. While the guilt did not last the entire week before going home, or the entire two weeks I was home, it did cross my mind often.
Ultimately though, I know I made the right decision in visiting home. Being home was not only a nice vacay filled with warm showers and unlimited internet, but it was also a refresher. I was able to reassure my family that Panama is treating me well, medical concerns aside. I was able to share pictures and anecdotes about what it was like to live with a host family of 12, what my typical work day looks like, and potential months they could visit me (hint hint). Being home helped me remember the reasons and goals I had in mind before starting my Peace Corps service. Even if I got the occasional “Are you suuuure you wanna go back?” or “Just go get Toby and come back,” I know that my family, friends and boyfriend are still 100% supportive of my life in Panama, and for that I thank you all.
Now that I’m back in Panama, I’m so pumped to make the most of this year. Right now schools are on summer vacations until early March, since it’s summertime aka hottttttttttttt. I flew in and stayed in the city a couple of nights because I had some medical and dental appointments that I wanted to get out of the way, so I wouldn’t have to make the 6 hour trip back in a few weeks. The first event I will participate in this year is the AOA health, hygiene and sanitation camp that I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts. If you’d like more information or still have some Christmas money you’d like to put to good use, consider donating by clicking on the link below:
Well that’s all for now friends. I was able to catch up with some peeps in Panama City, which was a really nice welcome back, but I am more than ready to cuddle with my not so little Toby in just a few hours. Alsooooo, enjoy two new videos 🙂 #blessed to have had access to wifi at home!
Mes de la Patria!
Welcome to my House!
Final note, new year new post new blog design!
Enjoy and happy happy new year! Hope you’re all having a wonderful time so far.