Panamanian Highlands

Trip Start Jan 07, 2008
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34
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Trip End Ongoing


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Friday, November 14, 2008

Well, I hit a significant anniversary this week. It was one year ago that I began this adventure when I got in my car and began my two month drive across the US. It is hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that I have been traveling for an entire year. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have had this opportunity and am grateful every day for what I am able to enjoy.

I ended up spending 2 ½ weeks in Bocas and enjoyed it quite a bit. But I will not lie, I was getting a bit bored and needed to get moving. The last few days I was there I met an interesting Cuban American guy named Pablo, who is on a similar mission to mine...exploring possibilities for re-locating to Panama. So we shared some information, (he actually has an old colleague of his that lives in Bocas) hung out a few days, and practiced our Spanish and English. It was great for me, because it forced me to step up to the plate with my Spanish...I had become muy floja( very lazy). I have included some photos from the Independence Day Parade in Bocas.

Eventually I made a loose plan to head towards David, about 4 hours south of Bocas to consider my next move. David is the second largest city in Panama, and I was interested in a day or two there and then easy transport connections from there to other areas. This is where the Western Highland area of Panama begins from the South, and I had heard great things in general about the area. There is a small town called Boquete about 1 hour north of David, and I decided to check it out for a day or two. It was not really in my plans to spend too much time here, but it has been a week now and I am thrilled that I made the stop. I could very easily get comfortable here and quickly, even though there are no beaches, but before I start to grow any roots, I am going to check out some of the other areas of Panama that my research has enticed me to see.

I just finished a week of Spanish classes today and I had a great teacher. I took private lessons, an indulgence I thought I needed to have, and learned a ton of stuff. Christian was an excellent teacher(Spanish by the River, Boquete). I also took a huge leap and decided to do a home stay with a family in an effort to really entrench myself in the language, and I ended up hitting the jackpot. I will never be this lucky again with a home stay, I know that for sure.

Maria and Jeff are sixtyish and live in a huge house that sort of functions as a B & B, but they take some students in as well. My room with private bathroom was nicer than any hotel I have stayed at in months, plus I had use of this incredibly rambling and comfortable house with multiple inside and outdoor sitting areas complete with impeccable gardens. It included breakfast and dinner every day and my interaction with the extended family that came and went during the day was fabulous. They were so kind and welcoming it renewed my faith in people. It CERTAINLY left a positive impression on me and my Panamanian experience.

I cooked dinner last night for 7, New Orleans Style BBQ Shirmp, and it was a huge success. It felt good to be in the kitchen, and I was happy to be able to give Señora Maria a night off. She works hard, but never shows it. It is a good reminder to me how much patience and grace you need to have when you decide to open your house up to tourists as paying guests. It is something I have been considering for quite a while, and watching her do it was a good lesson in doing it the right way.

I decided to head out on Sunday when my week ends to check out four more areas in the country. But get this...I am not writing this location off yet. I might return, even if it is a bit cool (and sometimes outright cold) because the vibe here is so great and it is so incredibly beautiful. The air is so clean and fresh and there is an incredible mix of flora and fauna here. There are both tropical and highland environmental influences and outdoor activity, especially during this part of the year, is excellent. There is an interesting mix of people as well. Plus, the coffee is like magic. It is a MAJOR crop in this area.

So, I will poke around Panama for a bit longer, but I am not going to lie--I am tired. As glamorous as long term travel sounds, it is very exhausting. I am ready to put roots down for a bit, even if it is only for 3 - 6 months. Plus I really am ready to work and finding a unique opportunity for working "illegally" may not be as easy as it sounds. Labor is really cheap in Panama, really cheap, so you have to work hard to find the right situation. But, I am not giving up yet. I have just started to put my networking skills into play and suspect that in the not too distant future, an opportunity will present itself and I can settle in for a bit.

Keep me in mind as the nasty winters up North get you increasingly frustrated. Warmer climates are here in Panama, and I would love a visitor or two, or three....... I will check in again in a few weeks.

Besos.
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Comments

badnomad
badnomad on

can't wait
dear Jodi, as always glad to hear is first and foremost, going well, still alive and well as they say. I am hoping to convince myself tp find my way in your direction after the trip to Hawaii, we get back mid january, little time to recoup and hopefully i can get down there with ya,,
much love and safe journey

BAD

beckyg
beckyg on

une amigo de dunbar
todo el mundo que los rodea, uno nunca sabe lo que va a golpear cuando. ser flexible y abierto hace que cada momento especial y que parecen tener, como muy pocos otros, está abierto a ello.
Saludos y ¡viva!
becky

twateacher
twateacher on

As Always......
Jodi, always happy to know you're finding new avenues and more adventures in your search for peaceful living. Yes, the opportunity you seek IS on its way to you, I wholeheartedly believe that. Wonderful pictures.....awesome scenery.....amazing stories. Continuing to live vicariously through you Gurrrrlllll! MsNeen!

nikinicole
nikinicole on

Wow!
Crazy how fast a year goes by! I've so enjoyed reading all your entries and seeing your photo's from your travels!!!

xo

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