When I first came to Panama, I was afraid. Saying goodbye to my family, friends, and the state I’d lived in my entire life was nothing short of terrifying. But after a summer here, things are just the opposite. Now, I’m scared to leave. I’m scared of not waking up to Alejandro’s loud crowing or falling asleep in my corner surrounded by Elly, Lea and the Jamies. I’m afraid of what mornings will be like without ‘Buenas’ and smiles from Sophia and Sonia as we head to breakfast, or a laugh from Sweetie as I buy galletas before noon. I don’t remember what life is like without an Aura to greet right after sunrise and a Noris to talk to over yuca frita. I don’t know how I’m going to leave all my fútbol niños behind- I’m afraid to miss when Ashley’s next tooth falls out or to experience a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon without Abraham and Vladimir’s giggling. At the end of all of this I am afraid to go home because I am blessed enough to have found another one. One in a town where warmth comes not from temperature but the easy drift of friendliness between neighbors. Where simplicity and happiness is the ultimate goal. Where care for one another takes precedent, where help is always offered, and where nothing is taken for granted. A place where “time is money” is not a known phrase, and instead taking things slowly and enjoying your time on this earth is the standard. And Casa Llena- a house where cooperation and being considerate started as a necessity and turned into second nature. Where I am lucky enough to live with people who have the same wants for the world and ideas for the future. A home where I am surrounded by people who find something they are passionate about and put everything they have into making things happen.
The saying goes, “dreams and dedication are a powerful combination”. Add love to that equation, and the result is the most wonderful 10 weeks of my life.
Thank you to Kalu Yala, to San Miguel, and to everyone who made this summer the best. I love you all.