This is Elise. I woke up in the middle of the night and didn't know where I was. Gradually I remembered I was in Panama City in a different apartment but the same complex as the night before. My confusion was compounded by our move to a different condo that was a mirror image of the one the night before. (due to an error by the reservation people at the condo complex) What country are we in? What's the exchange rate? As we moved back and forth between Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama I feel a sense of discombobulation. As we end our Central American journey, I feel a sense of being untethered. We aren't going back to Texas yet but we haven't had the time to plan for South America. I have been so busy looking for accommodations and things to do and see at the next place that I haven't looked past Panama City. You would think a week at a place is long enough to relax and settle in but it really isn't. We have mostly been staying at VRBO places that are larger and a better value than hotels but they also take longer to book and require emailing the owner back and forth and getting check in information. Hotels are much quicker to decide on and book. We have mostly been eating in to save money but that requires finding the food and cooking in a new kitchen every few days. We can't really buy a lot of food if we are moving in a few days so I shop for groceries constantly. Almost every time it is a challenge to find where things are. Often I have to go to different stores for different things. I have to translate from Spanish and do a currency conversion in my head. It has all been fun but Panama is a nice break. There is a normal supermarket here and US dollars are used.
I am not complaining. I have had a lot of fun and am very glad I have done this trip. I am just trying to explain what it feels like to travel in foreign countries for 5 months. As I gain some perspective I start to appreciate Guatemala more for it's differences. Panama and Costa Rica are similar to America in some ways. Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua are totally different from the US. Things are definitely not the same there. For a while I was totally disconnected from American culture. I didn't watch TV, talk to gringos, or even read Yahoo news. When I watch the international news in Spanish I saw a lot of police action in the US. The US news that filters down here seems to consist of police brutality, riots, and natural disasters. It looks like a scary place from what I see on the news. As a side note I watched Venezuelan news and everything looks great there. They have free WiFi in the parks, the government is doing a lot of good to help the people, and the only crime they talk about are the successes the police have with catching the bad guys. ( That's what happens when the press is controled by the government.)
The girls have been getting tired of traveling and have been clamoring to go back to Texas to see their friends. We have found some kids here though and they are playing on the beach right now. We have not been keeping up with the homeschooling lately but that's ok. We all needed a break.
We are on the 23rd floor of a building with only the rooftop pool above us. The windows don't have screens and slide open to about ribcage high. I don't like having the windows open because it is straight down 23 floors. Tonight Mike made fun of me because I wanted to close the windows so the vampire bats don't come in and bite us. What!? There really are vampire bats here and the guide books warn to not sleep outdoors without a tent. We did have a bat fly into our kitchen in Granada. After he was done laughing at me, saying that bats don't fly this high, we discovered the room was filled with mosquitoes. We had heard mosquitoes don't fly this high. That's a myth.