Last night we rang in Christmas at midnight per Panamanian tradition. Christmas Eve is a day full of celebration and Christmas Day is used more as a day of relaxation. Linda and her cousin came over yesterday evening to help me make shortbread cookies to take to my host families house later that night. They’d never had shortbread before but it was a hit!
They left my house around 7 so I had some time to relax and ready myself to be up past 10 pm. Naturally, I watched Gilmore girls (it’s my new obsession). I also made myself stir-fry because Linda told me we wouldn’t eat till midnight or later and I knew I’d be dying by then. I got a chance to Skype my parents and my brother and then I headed over with wine, cookies, and gifts!
I expected to feel some sadness or longing last night but the feeling never really came. It was my decision to stay in Panama for Christmas because I wanted to see what it was like. We drank wine together and my 5 year old cousin waited until about 10 to open her gifts because we knew we couldn’t get her to wait till midnight. She enjoyed the kitchen play set I got for her!
In the bottom photo you can see all of the gifts she got. I think it totaled out to about 6 different things. And she was so excited! It made me think a lot about how we celebrate Christmas in the US and the sheer amount of things that I was accustomed to receiving as a child. I know I grew up without wanting for thingns-I’ve had a pretty privileged life-but seeing her reaction to opening 6 gifts really put that in perspective for me.
At midnight we at dinner. We had potato salad and ham with pineapple. It was the first time I could remember having ham in Panama! It was very good-as always I’m amazed at my host families cooking. I gave out the gifts I had for everyone a little after midnight and people seemed to enjoy what they got (thanks mom!). And now, it’s Christmas Day! I Skyped my family again, grandparents included this time, and we all wished each other a Merry Christmas and talked about my evening. They’ll be heading to my see my little cousin open up gifts later this morning. And me? Well I’m going to sit here and listen to Christmas music, watch Gilmore Girls, drink tea, pack for home, and I’ve got a baile to go to later! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! ¡Feliz navidad y felices fiestas!
Sometimes you skip out on one experience and you gain another. The other week I was supposed to go to chiriqui with my friend Odiris for the day but I wasn’t feeling well. I bailed on her at the last minute (the last minute being 10 pm when she was going to pick me up at midnight) and went back to sleep. I woke up at 7 am to my host sister frantically texting me to go to her house because Cory (the very pregnant dog) was having pains. I throw on clothes and ran to my host families house where I got to see a litter of puppies be born.
Cory had 6 puppies but unfortunately two were stillborn. Since then one of the puppies (my favorite and the dark one in the picture above so I’m very sad about it) has died. I’ve been going over every day to see the puppies and watch them grow. Seeing them be born was amazing! I’d never seen anything be born before! It also solidified the fact that I could never be a vet.
In addition to our sloth search, beach trip, and Panama City adventures, we went to Panama Viejo! Sam got the true experience of riding a diablo rojo there. Panama Viejo is the old Panama City-Henry Morgan attacked it and burned it to the ground leaving ruins that you can explore to this day!
While this song from “Catch me if you Can” doesn’t really match my christmas mood I needed a Christmas song that wasn’t “White Christmas” to title this post. I’m going to be spending my first Christmas away from home this year and I get the feeling that it’s going to be a little more difficult than Thanksgiving was. I’m hoping my host family invites me to do something with them (as I’m sure they will). Lights have been glittering from rooftops in my little Panamanian town and in the city they’re going all out with decorations. While I’m a little sad to celebrate so far from home I’m also excited to experience Christmas in another culture.
The school year is officially over in Panama so I’m going to have a lot of free time on my hands in the upcoming months! I just attended a two-day TOT (training of trainers) in Panama City to prepare us for the new TELLS group that will be coming in in February. I’ll be planning and organizing everything for their tech-week. You might remember my post from several months back about my tech-week but if you don’t–fear not! The new trainees will come to Penonome for a week, live with host families, and work in schools. This gives them the opportunity to really put into practice some of the co-teaching and co-planning skills they’ve acquired throughout training.
The first day of the TOT was my birthday! I’m 23 years old and still amaze people in my community because I’m so young, have a degree, and I’m living away from home. Here it seems to take a little longer for youth to get through college despite the programs being 4 year programs. I think a large factor in that is that here in Panama people start families pretty early. Many people are going to school, working, and taking care of a family at home. It’s a pretty hefty workload! I don’t have any pictures from my birthday but I assure you it was a good time. Plus, my friend Sam came in on the 7th!
We did a lot of cool things while she was here! Sam also had a lot of opportunities to practice her Spanish–she’s definitely better than I am with the grammar. One of the coolest things about Panama City is that on “ladies night” it’s apparently possible to drink for free if you’re a lady which is pretty sexist but also great for my bank account. We found a bar that had free champagne for Panamanian mother’s day (Dec 8th if you were wondering) and relaxed. We also spent some time exploring the city. We saw the canal and Panama Viejo. Keep your eyes peeled for a Panama Viejo-filled photo friday this week!
And finally, I’ll leave you with a story and a warning. We all know I love cats. I basically want to be the Snow White of stray cats. Panama City really fuels this desire because a lot of the strays are very friendly. So Sam and I passed by some ruins and saw four stray cats. I know these cats–I’ve petted them before. Naturally we stopped to pet them. As we’re getting ready to walk away Sam gets shit on by a bird! I tell her that it’s good luck and we go off in search of napkins. Flash forward to later that night. We got dinner and drinks with a friend of mine and were walking around looking for a place to get coffee and we happened to pass by the ruins again. I stopped to pet the cats of course and, right as we’re leaving I got shit on by a bird! Sam and I had a good laugh about it and my friend told me it was good luck which made us laugh even harder. Tl;dr If you pet street cats birds might shit on you.
Today’s recipe:deviled eggs! My favorite party appetizer has now become my favorite meal and I’m convinced that this is what adulthood is all about. The best thing about deviled eggs is that they’re both delicious and super easy to make. You can find most of the ingredients in your local mini-super!
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp stone ground mustard
Optional: paprika or old bay seasoning
Bring a pot of water with a tablespoon of vinegar in it to a boil. Once it’s boiling lower in your two eggs. Cover and let boil for 10 minutes. Remove the eggs and put them into an ice bath. If you really live in the campo and don’t have ice just runbtap water over them for a few minutes till why’re no longer warm. Peel the eggs (and marvel at how the vinegar in the water you boiled them in makes them so easy to peel) and cut them in half length-wise. Place the hard boiled yolks in a bowl. Add mayonnaise, yellow mustard, and stone ground mustard. Mash this all with a fork until you get a nice smooth consistency. Spoon this mixture into your 4 egg halves and top with paprika or old bay!