Simple Happiness…



As I’m typing this I have a contented smile on my face. Why? Well, aside from the sounds of my hummers happily devouring their morning treats from my feeders, and the sight of my sweet dog laying at my feet happily snoozing, I just had the most heartwarming conversation with one of our workers. Federico, I must admit, is one of our favorites….I know, we shouldn’t have favorites, but we just can’t help it. I think the others may have noticed this because they harass him all the time that we have adopted him and call him Federico Carter! hahahah! He’s a young indigenous guy, about mid 20’s. He just came out to the terrace where I’m sitting with my coffee to tell me how happy he is today.

With a smile on his face, not at all embarrassed by his two missing front teeth, (the indigenous love to fight and the loss of teeth seems to be almost a badge of honor…shrug ), he explains that he has moved to a new place. Scott had already told me this, but I let him tell me his good news as though I had not heard it already. The place he moved to his higher up on the mountain above our property. He already lived up the hill from us and is the only one of our workers who walks to work in the morning, the other 7 guys I drive down into town to pick up everyday. He told me that the new living situation is so much better and that he is so happy.

As he told me his good news he was beaming with happiness and it warmed my heart and made me so happy too. It’s just so sweet that he wanted to tell me that he is happy, wanted to share his happiness with me. Sigh… I told him, in my broken Spanish, “Ohhhhh Federico, caundo tu feliz, yo feliz tambien.” He walked back into the house to continue his work and as I watched him walk off with that toothless smile I thought I just had to share his happiness with you! Such a relatively simple thing, a new place to live, and yet this young man felt so happy he just had to share it with someone. His walk to our property everyday is much longer now, probably by another 30 minutes or so, but no matter, he is still ever so grateful for a better place to call home. He told me that the longer walk would be good exercise, hah!

There’s so much that I love about this experience of living in Central America but sometimes its the most simple things like this that touch my heart the most. When I talk to my daughter who is about the same age as Federico, and I hear about the things that make her happy I can’t help but see the vast difference between the two young adults and what they expect out of their lives. Don’t get me wrong, my observations are in no way meant to compare their lives in order to cast judgment on or to see one as better or worse. I just can’t help but see two young adults, who’s lives are so vastly different simply because of where they were born. Very seldom does my daughter contact me to express that something so seemingly simple has made her deeply happy. I just don’t think that Federico expects much from his life to actually bring him happiness. Not that he is an unhappy person, but life is much more about just basic survival than about frivolous happiness. He lives his days to provide for himself the basics, food and shelter being the very bare necessities and providing for his family on the Comarca being the priority.

He would never even consider the idea of wanting a car or owning much in the way of material possessions at all. He doesn’t want a TV or a fitbit, or a stereo or an iPhone. What he wants in life is just so very different and so seemingly simple from what most young adults need in order to tell someone how very happy they are. I find this so endearing and it touched my heart and made me think about just one more thing about life here that I love. These are just my observations. Not judgments on what’s right or wrong. Just me, observing this young man and feeling so honored that he felt the desire to share his good news with me this morning. Never have I seen a happier toothless grin than the one on Federico’s face this morning! I hope his happiness brings a smile to your face too…


About hollycarter184

Life is Good! But it's time for a change, and more adventure! I'd like to share the whole experience of preparing then actually making a reality of expatriating, and moving to a new country. It's an exciting, and slightly scary move full of possibility . I'm looking forward to learning a new language and making new connections with the people who share our spirit of adventure. This blog is my way of continuing my connection with my friends and family in the States. Sooooo here it goes! :)

16 responses »

  1. Definitely brought a smile. Thank you, Holly. You, too, are a sharer of happiness. In fact, I can’t think of a more positive person. Miss you mucho.

  2. Your writing Holly touched my heart!! I read it out loud to Jerry and these friends of ours who are stilll here in Mexico with us.
    That is exactly what drives us here every year for the past 38 years…you leave always feeling so blessed…and know we have way more than we need or deserve in life.And yes they are always so happy…laughing and whistling and never ever not acknowledge one. LOVE THEM SO SO MUCH!!!

    • Thanks so much for this sweet comment Hazel. It’s so sweet to be around those who find happiness in the simplicity of life. Glad your enjoying a holiday in Mexico, maybe one day you’ll make it to Panama!!

  3. Nice post Holly. Thanks for sharing this happiness and I do understand. Our Tomas is buying a slightly larger piece of land for his family. He will have room to grow some food, have some chickens and build a larger rancho. When he shared his excitement with me I offered to hold his Sat. pay for him in an envelope of savings to help him achieve his goal. He was so.o.o.o.o happy to have me do that. Saturday is his “extra” (not promised) day which he asked me for and we have given it readily. so now we have a baggie with a tally sheet signed by both of us that I will continue to put his Sat. pay into until he has enough for his new lot. $120.00 is all he needs so he will have it soon. He will then no doubt ask permission to harvest thatch from our finca to build it with. So simple and he is happy also to be walking to and from work 30 minutes each way.

    • Oh Lyn! I love this story! Thanks for sharing it! I know you’ve lived here for so much longer than me and to hear that you still feel so touched by the sweet simplicity of happiness here , it really makes me smile! Tomas must feel so fortunate to have found such good Jeffe’s to work for! As, I know you are soooooooo pleased to have found him as well !!!

  4. What a lovely heartwarming story that has made me smile, as well! Yes, seeing people living a simplistic and happy life can be an eye opener and learning lesson for us all. Loved Lyn’s story, too!! Holly, you are such a sweetheart and I’ve never even met you 🙂

  5. Thank you for sharing , your wonderful stories, make me smile from inside out. You have warmed my soul, on many occasions . You and Scott, and Scruffy and Copper, deserve this chapter and many more to come.😊

  6. Year after year Panama ranks as one of the “happiest” countries in the world. And it’s because of people like Federico who know that happiness comes from within and can’t be quantified with “things.”

    About 7 yrs ago when I was first exploring Panama looking for the place I’d settle down I was heading into the Azuero. It was getting close to Christmas. An older gentleman got on the bus in Las Tablas with a small, extremely chintzy girl’s bicycle with training wheels. Pretty much ANY kid in the States would turn their nose up at getting a bike like that, but as the miles rolled by I kept looking at that old man and the cheap bike and I started to realize that while it was cheap and shoddy by OUR standards it probably represented quite a significant investment for that old man. And it didn’t matter if the seat was plastic and the fairy princess decals would rapidly fade away…the little girl who was going to get that bike was going to LOVE IT because it was HER bike and her abuelo gave it to her.

    Someone’s bank account is a very poor measure of a person’s wealth…

  7. You’re right Holly, young Americans often measure there success and wealth based on material possessions. It’s a cyclic trap that is hard to break. Thanks for the insightful post.

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