Spending time here in the city with Emma and experiencing a little bit of how her life plays out in Panama City, has been a lot of fun and pretty interesting. She’s lived in Panama City for about 3 years. What brought her here from Arizona was a job as a music teacher at an international school. As much as I’m enjoying the tranquility of life in the highlands of Panama in a small town, I must say, Living in the city is much more conducive to being an active, ambitious 20 something career women with a social life. She lives in a beautiful high rise apartment on the 16th floor (27 floors in the building), that has a spectacular view of the skyline of the city. I’m struck by just how safe it feels living in an apartment like this with a very secure parking garage and a security guard in the lobby. Of course, that’s the “mom” in me thinking about safety, hah!
I’ve never lived in a big city, its so foreign to me. But I really enjoy visiting and when you get to stay in someone’s home, it’s an especially fun way to experience what it’s like to live there. One small thing about Emma, (one of many things), that I admire, is her ability to drive and navigate in the city with apparent ease and so much confidence! Okay, those who have driven with me may know, I’m a rather nervous driver so this comes as no surprise that I would find this trivial thing admirable…humph! But I’m not kidding! You should see her whizz through the city like she’s lived here all her life! It’s impressive, I know a lot of people who always say, “I would never want to drive in the city!” And Emma just honks and curses like a sailor and weaves in and out like a seasoned pro! I may have even learned a few new cuss words! Hah! Ya, I’ll try them out next time a bunch of cows get in my way while I’m trying to drive around Boquete!
I love how different the Panamanians drive, in the states if you attempted to drive the way they do here you just never know if someone might shoot you when you honk like that! I’m sure I’ve told you before Panamanian drivers love to use their horn! They will honk for just about any ol’ reason and they don’t ever seem to perceive it as a negative or overly aggressive way to drive. Yesterday, we were driven around by a really neat young man who’s married to one of Emma’s fellow teachers at her school. He and his wife moved here almost a year ago from Seattle for a job at the school that his wife has taken for a two year commitment, and he sometimes gives people little tours of the city as something to do. We gave him $50.00 and he showed up ready to spend the day shlepping us where ever we wanted to go. It was a great way to spend the day while Emma was working. We went to the zoo and to Gamboa and had a lovely lunch overlooking the Canal Zone. But again, Alex drives as though he’s lived here his whole life. We had to laugh when we found ourselves in a particularly bad traffic jam and an older Panamanian man drove up the shoulder and cut off dozens of people but when Alex refused to let him get in front of him, the old man honked and acted as though he just couldn’t believe how rude it was that we wouldn’t let him cut us off! Hah! As Emma says….”Ohhhh Panama!” (smiling as I shake my head in glorious wonder and profound amusement!)
As I write this post I’m sitting outside on Emma’s balcony 16 stories up in the high rise building she calls home. And I cant help but ponder the beauty that surrounds me. Its nothing like the beauty that I so love in the lush green mountains of Boquete, but I find that its a beauty that I also find just as wondrous . The sounds may be vastly different yet also somehow I can find a “Holly” way to see the beauty in it. The birds are still singing their morning songs just as they do anywhere. But mixed in with the birdsong is the sounds of the city. The sounds of life all around me. Horns honking, the roar of trucks below, construction noise, dogs barking, car alarms sounding, it all blends together to create the song of a big urban family, living life. As the city awakens the noises become more intense and one can almost feel the rhythm of daily life beginning a fresh new day. Although it’s not where I would live, I love to soak up the energy and the excitement of a big city like this, if only for a few days.
On this little trip from Boquete to Pedasi and now to the city visiting new friends along the way and traveling with a new friend, I’m struck by all the various places that we all live and how vastly different they are. Each of us are thrilled by our adopted country in different ways and for different reasons. And we’ve all adapted to the various areas of Panama each of us feeling like we’re where we should be living at this time of our lives. Kris loves her Panamanian neighborhood and the woods behind her house, she rides her bike into the center of David and enjoys all the action of the city . I can feel the pride she takes in assimilating to all the culture that surrounds her and feeling accepted by the people as she immerses herself in where she lives. She loves the not only the people and the landscape that surrounds her, but also the bugs, and the plants and the weather and the food, Yes, Kris has found the perfect place to live her life to its fullest and like me, she appreciates all the different locals we visit but The City of David is where her heart is. Karen has created a wonderful life out in the little country town of Pedasi. It’s near to the ocean and boasts open vistas that go on forever along with a quiet lifestyle amongst kind friendly Panamanians. She loves the peaceful pace of her life in the campo and the life they’ve created there suits her and her hubby just fine. I’m certain she’s found her Oasis and is firmly planting roots and wouldn’t want to be any other place. Emma is the youngest of my new friends, at 27 years old she’s at the very beginning of creating an enviable life. I’m impressed by her fierce independence and the confidence she possesses. No “person” and no “job” and certainly no ‘self doubt’ is getting in this young women’s way of living her life her way! I look forward to seeing where she ends up next. For now, Panama City is her home and she seems really happy with where she is at the moment but also very open to new possibilities and opportunities that may arise. This gal’s blazing her own trail and isn’t just “letting” life happen to her, she’s “making” it happen, and City life really is just what she needs. Is there anything more beautiful than seeing a young women like Emma with so much potential making the absolute most of who she is? I think not! But I’ve veered from my topic as I marvel at Emma….what was I saying? Oh…..How all four of us are living in such vastly different areas of this country and how much these different areas seem to be just right for us and for how we want to live our lives.
Yes, myself and these three new friends of mine have all chosen different areas of Panama to call home. I think we all enjoy exploring and experiencing each other’s homes but we each feel so glad to be back home when we get back to our houses in our Cities , Campos and Hillside Pueblos. We each have our reasons for living where we live and it sure is nice to have the opportunity to have friends who live in such great places to visit. I know I say this a lot, but I just can’t help but say it and feel it every single day…..”LIFE IS GOOD!” 🙂