Some things I absolutely love about Panama:
- Grocery store empanadas for a quick meal. Love.
- We feel safe. I have never felt threatened or unsafe, even alone at night. There are armed guards and police EVERYwhere, but they are friendly, not scary.
- Smoking in public is prohibited and really uncommon. (There is smoke from diesel vehicles and burning trash and fields, so it's still not the freshest air.)
- Working at my school connects me to people all over the country. I always have something to talk about with strangers.
- People are friendly and patient and looove the girls. They always comment about their eyes.
- In the interior, you experience real Panama. Even in the touristy spots, locals living authentically are mixed in with foreigners. We often travel alongside Panamanians, so we don't feel like we're in completely contrived-for-tourists experiences.
- I'm reminded daily of all that I have. Yesterday, a teacher told me how some students need to leave class early on afternoons that it rains because they have to cross a river before it gets to high. Another teacher told me he can't get anything to stay stuck on the walls because it's so windy in his school. These are open-air classrooms in a country that hits 95 degrees daily. He also teaches two grades per class.
- There are virtually no mosquitos. Zika was my first concern when I was offered a position in Panama, but I'm the only one who's gotten bitten, and only once or twice. We actually got ticketed for standing water in a pipe when the mosquito inspector visited!