So we're nearing the end of our time here in Panama. Actually, we arrived January 16, which means today is our six-week anniversary.
We will be flying from Panama City to Santiago, Chile on March 5, so we have one more week here in Panama. I think it's acceptable timing to have a mini retrospective, so here goes.
My Spanish still sucks
But WOW I am so much more functional than when I got here! I mean, wow!
Our first full day here I was horrified to discover that our waitress didn't understand me when I asked for water. Agua! I've known that word for 20-25 years now and she straight-up did not understand me. My pronunciation was off, I guessed, which was even more horrifying. "Ah-gwah?" "Ah-wah?" I felt fear in my heart for the next month's worth of water-ordering.
Last night I asked our waitress, in Spanish, if they had any desserts (just because there are desserts on the menu doesn't mean they actually have them, in Panamá). She told me they had a house flan, lemon pie, and some kind of mousse. Passionfruit mousse, we determined by looking at the menu.
Then I asked which one she liked, and apologized for my atrocious Spanish. She said either the flan or the mousse, and warned me the mousse was... something that sounded like "acidic."John and I decided after we tasted our mousse that whatever word she used might have meant "tart."
I could not have had that conversation six weeks ago.
Of course (claro, according to my Spanish Is Fun textbook), almost all of my vocabulary revolves around food. You have to eat before you can walk, I guess.
The best part? The waitress was smiling at me in a very genuine way. I doubt the server smiled when this lady in a big group of tourists said, with much frustration in her voice, "I WANT A HAMBURGER, WITH CHEEEEESE."
In Spanish, that's hamburguesa con queso. Maybe try a little harder next time. Also, calm down. It's not their fault you don't speak Spanish.
Telling the story of any trip to Central America probably requires a mention of this infamous concept. John and I were discussing it last night and I think it's pretty straightforward.
Nothing is urgent.
No, really. Nothing.
There is no bus schedule; you just go to the stop and wait until the next bus comes.
If the taxi driver says he'll be there in 20 minutes, he means at least 40.
Your entrees do not come out at the same time, ever. If you ask for more water, the server will stop to flirt with the bartender before she brings it. Once you've finished your meal you intend to linger for as long as possible and therefore the server will not bring you your check. Or ask you if you want another beer (if you do you'll let her know, right?)
When you invite the very generous person who's letting you stay in his house over for dinner, he will accidentally fall asleep and then call you several hours later to apologize and reschedule.
It's actually not as annoying as it might seem. If I had to stay home for three days, waiting for a utility company rep to come by my house, as our aforementioned generous host had to do, I would probably end up annoyed.
For the most part, though, it just means we get to slow down and enjoy the fact that nothing is urgent.
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Oh yeah, don't forget to check out John's blog, Have VIM, Will Travel. He's more detail-oriented and technical than me (more detail-oriented than me?? whoa) so his first post details the steps he took to become a "digital nomad!" Very informative, and it features my favorite photo of him here in Panama ;)