My final days at Cabanas Time Out leave me feeling sad to depart from my new friends but eager to explore other parts of Panama. I get asked often of “how” I decide where to go next or just how far do I plan ahead. My response varies quite a bit depending on the situation. With major flights or extended volunteer programs, I plan ahead. With small city transfers or hostel hopping, I usually find myself making the decision on the way to the bus stop. This week, I got a call during my stay in Santa Catalina. I repeat… I got a phone call! Imagine the look on my face when the reception says, “It’s for you”!
On the other end of the line was a kind woman with a gentle voice that said something to the affect of, “You don’t know me, but my good friend Debbie knows your mother in Florida and we heard that you were injured from a fall”. (This is true and not my brightest moment). “We live in Panama City and are here for you if you need anything like a place to recover or a ride to the airport”… Well hello there unexpected sweet angel!
This my friends, is how the next “plan” was made. I cut my time short in Santa Catalina and found out my new friends from the hotel were also heading to the city. So, off we go together as I get excited to meet my new Panamanian family!
Upon arrival I was welcomed by a family that made me feel like I was the long lost sister, or some sort of guest celebrity. A neat feeling compared to the usual “one more backpacker” greeting that comes complimentary with each hostel. I don’t have a photo of the entire family so I snuck this adorable holiday picture to give you a visual of my hero’s.
With time for some arts and crafts and a warm dinner, the girls and I connect before
I settle in to get a luxurious night sleep on a bed… with two pillows…. in an air-conditioned room… and no bugs!
The morning brings school for the girls and who leaves for class without braids if Erika is around?
Can you tell by their facial expressions just how excited they are to be up at 6am on the last day before holiday break? Oh memories of dreadful alarm clocks.
As the lovely ladies are off in school, I get the pleasure of joining Lia (mom) to the fresh local market. My favorite!
The rules for this maze of fresh fruit and veggies:
#1. Pay $0.25 to enter.
#2. Enter at your own risk.
What stood out to me about this street market is that it’s a drive, park and pay. You literally drive around (in any direction) and when you see something you want, you park (anywhere you want) pick and pay for your goods, then get back into your car and keep going.
Driving around the city brings us to a few fun sights. This is a huge building that serves several sweet dishes and treats from milkshakes to layered cakes.
Crossing the American Bridge with a great view for the canal too!
Handstand shot at the Panama Canal!
These funky wheels are everywhere!
In order for me to blog, I had to find wifi and Lia knew just where to drop me off. Here is my view as I type away.
As a “Thank you” I brought her family one of their favorite goodies from the cafe. It was a croissant styled crust stuffed with warm cream cheese and slightly sprinkled with crystalized sugar. The tea was for me and I love the yogi quote too!
Returning home I find the girls with an abundance of energy and creative enthusiasm that stretches way beyond a few coloring books!
It starts with a little dress up…
Sweet little Allison doesn’t know what to think of this beautiful disaster!
Next comes the make-up…wait, what’s the blindfold for?!
She liked to zoom in… A lot.
Some final photos before bedtime. I love my life.
The entire time I read this, I had the warmest light radiating from my heart, tears in my eyes, a lump in my throat and a smile on my lips. What an amazing story we all share about God’s perfect plan and the way He reveals who we are to each other at just the right time. I can hardly wait until you visit your mom this summer and I can see more photos and hear all about your visit with Lia, Dan and their beautiful family! Much love, safe travels … God is with you!
You’re on an amazing journey! We sailed underneath the American Bridge on a cruise ship two years ago–an amazing trip from a totally different perspective than what you’re experiencing. Hope your boo boo is better soon.