7 things Panama taught me NOT to take for Granted

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Over a year ago John and I decided to pack a few bags and move to The Republic of Panama.   We threw all caution to the wind.  Said goodbye to friends and family and got on that plane.

As most people does, I had thoughts in my head as to what Panama would be.  Of course when I got there it didn’t quite match up. 

I have no regrets about going.  If I had to do it again, I would.  In the year I was there I learned a lot of things.  One of the most important lessons I have learned would have to be not to take so much for granted.   Now I would like to share 7 of those things with YOU.

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1.  Water/Hot Water

While we were lucky enough to find a home that had a water pump (that we had to manually turn on and off.  A lot of people doesn’t have that luxury.  Another thing we had to do was turn a switch on for hot waters in the shower.  I was so used to just going to the tap and having hot water at my disposal.  In Panama in order to wash dishes you had to boil the water first.  There was always the fear during dry season, that the water supply would run out and a couple of times we did have to go a few hours without any. 

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2.  English speaking people.

While John knows several languages.  I am only fluent in hillbilly and cat.  Not many people there knew english and since we were in their country we had to adapt.  John did fairly well but it seemed like any conversation turned into a game of charades.  That made it hard to make good friends while there and not only that, but it made it hard to get around in general.  Try going out to eat with a particular craving, but not being able to order because you didn’t know the correct word.  It was more or less settling with what you were brought after a while.

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3.  Walmart

How many times a day have you yelled “I HATE Walmart”  We all know we don’t really hate it..  It is just somewhere in the USA that we have to go to a lot because in reality they carry everything we need, at great prices and we can go there 24 hours a day.  We get burnt out on it for the most part.  Try going to a different country where there isn’t a Walmart near you.  Where you have to try and get through congested little streets and in and out of places to get different items.  Believe me, you will start missing it!  Right before we left Panama, we heard they were actually going to be building a Walmart in the city.  That would’ve been about 4 1/2 hours from where we were living.

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4.  Going in a store without guards

Not to keep bringing up Walmart but when you walk in there you see a smiling door greeter.  In Panama when you walk into a store you see a guard with a gun attached to his hip.  It doesn’t matter if it is a grocery store, a parking lot, bank or bakery.  There is a somber looking guy that refuses to smile.  We passed a ATM machine one day while they were taking their money from it.  Everyone that was on the street was standing without moving.  There were a couple guards with guns aimed in different directions of the machine.  If someone had walked around the corner it would not have been fun for him.  The one real bad experience I had with a guard was in a grocery store.  I had my cell phone in my hand.  I was walking down the aisle looking at things, when I hear my phone beep from the battery going dead.  I look at my phone and proceed to walk.  Apparently the guard thought I was taking pictures because he came down the aisle yelling at me “No fotos No fotos”  I told him “No batteria No batteria”  It really upset me and I really didn’t want to go out anywhere for a long time after that.

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5.  Beef

Where is the beef?  Not in Panama!  They have great pork, but when it comes to beef we never did find any worth eating.  Also the milk and milk products wasn’t that great.  We believe it was because the cows there didn’t have a lot to eat.  It is dry there and not a lot of grass and cows are not taken care of there like they are here.  This results in poor quality beef. 

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6.  Family & Friends

While email and phone is a great way to stay in touch. It is still hard being so far away.  There is times you just want to visit and you can’t do that when you are there.  This is I guess the same wether you are out of the country or if you are in a different state.  The time that bothered me the most about being so far away was when I lost my mother. It was miserable trying to book tickets, driving 4 1/2 to get to an airport and then spending most of the day flying just to get home to help arrange your mothers burial.  I am so glad John was there for me and helped me get through that situation.

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7.  Tv/Movies

We did have all the cable channels that were available and that was several.. The only problem with that was the fact that most of those channels were in spanish.  It was funny to see american actors and popular shows such as charmed and storage wars, all speaking in spanish!  We had to download most of our shows, watch DVDs or Netflix.  As for theatres they have a few in the bigger areas but again, most movies are in spanish and a few offer subtitles.  I didn’t go to a movie the whole time we were there.  That was hard considering when I am in the USA going to a movie is something I may do about 4 times a month.  John isn’t big on them but I just love it!  The big screen, the dark, the smell of popcorn! 

These are the top 7 things that I took for granted all my life. Things that I didn’t miss until they weren’t there.  Yes there is more that I haven’t listed.  This post is not meant to be negative towards Panama at all.  In fact being without these things did help me appreciate them even more.  While Panama may not have offered these things.  I could turn around and write a post on what it did offer.  I may save that for another day.  I just wanted to share this with you, my Shopping Wives Readers.  I do hope it helps you to stop and think of the small things in your life that you may be taking for granted.  Hug your family, invite your friends out for a movie, have a steak and then come home and take a hot bath (don’t forget to stop by Walmart for some bubbles) and then be thankful you have all this at your fingertips! 

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