Only one week left?!?

I can’t believe that I only have one week left here!? As I’m thinking about leaving and getting ready to go home, I’ve been reflecting on the things that I’ll miss about Panama and the things that I’m looking forward to…

I’ll miss…

1. The people

I’ve been so lucky to find such an interesting and lovable group of friends here. It’s been really neat to hang out with people who are at different stages of their life than me and who come from such different places – I’ve learned so much from being around this group, they’re a huge part of why I’ve loved this experience I miss them already! It’s so hard to make friends who are from all over the world because you might never see them again, but there are a few who I just have a feeling that I’ll cross paths with again in the future….

2. The jungle flora and fauna

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November is the rainiest month of the year here so tons of plants and trees are blooming right now, it’s really beautiful. I’m trying to soak in all the greenery before going back to the frozen Northeast! I’ll also really miss seeing agoutis and armadillos running around, feeding bananas to tamarins (like these ones!) in our backyard and hearing all the brilliantly colored birds and frogs calling to each other.

3. Being on the Panama canal

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It was so exhilarating to be out on the canal. Aside from the occasional ship passing by, we were usually alone and the jungle on either side of the water seems so wild and untouched. I would have been happy to ride around on the boat all day and just soak in the views!

4. The weather

I’m appreciating my last sunny, 80 degree days!

5. Fresh fruit and patacones

Mmm already missing the mangos, papaya, bananas, oranges, and plantains – especially the patacones, like these ones that came with this delicious fish. Shoutout to Dan for taking us out for this celebratory lunch when we finished field work!

6. Unexpected adventures

Because there are so many fewer rules here, you never know what’s going to happen and it seems like there are more opportunities for crazy little adventures that make memorable stories (if you survive to tell them!)

7. Latin music playing everywhere

In stores and restaurants, on the buses, blasting out of car windows, notes faintly floating by on the breeze…

8. Hand painted signs

They’re everywhere – painted directly onto buildings or on sheets on the side of the road – advertising everything from what a store sells to upcoming events to who is running for political offices.

I’m looking forward to…

  1. Seeing friends and family and my dog – if it wasn’t for all the wonderful people I’ve missed so much and can’t wait to see, I would probably just miss my flight back home…
  2. Bagels – I haven’t had a good bagel in 5 months. Or any bagel for that matter, they just don’t exist in Panama and that’s the first thing I’m getting when I’m back!
  3. Wearing jeans and warm clothes and being cozy – especially falling asleep snuggled under the blankets…
  4. My mom’s cooking – somehow everything she makes is absolutely delicious, mm!
  5. Not always being covered in chigger bites – If you’re not familiar with chiggers, you are NOT missing out. I was so excited to come back from Panama all tan… In reality, I’m going to be basically as pale as when I left (thanks to months of field work hidden from the sun in long sleeves under the forest canopy) with the exciting addition of strange bumps everywhere from all the various bug bites?!?
  6. Snow – It still feels like August to me, I’m having such a hard time convincing myself that Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is less than a month away. It definitely feels more like the holiday season when it’s winter weather! 

Leaving is so bittersweet, this has been such an enriching and fulfilling experience and I’m not ready to leave. But I’m grateful for how much I’ve grown during this co-op, for all the connections I’ve made, and for the great memories I’ll always have. And luckily there are so many things to look forward to back at home!

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