Things that Make You Smile

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It’s been a while, I know. But, it’s just been regular daily life around here, nothing out of the ordinary. But there’s lots to smile about every day and we are very thankful.

Today we went for a bike ride, and a cable to my gear changer broke so I couldn’t down shift. We pulled over by the side the road to see if we could figure out the problem. In a few minutes a man walked up to us to ask if we were having a problem with the bike. He said he has tools in his house nearby and maybe he could help.

I’ve talked many times about the sense of community I feel here, the sense that you are never alone. I can’t count the number of times total strangers offered help. I was looking at my tablet one day and a guy pulled over to ask if I was lost and looking for directions. We had a dead battery and it wasn’t 2 minutes before someone pulled over to offer a jump. I could fill pages with stories like this.

Also, there are the greetings. It is customary to exchange a greeting with everyone you pass on the street, in a bus, in a office, anywhere you encounter other people. I don’t know if you can fully understand how this feels until you have experienced it. After living in this culture, I miss it when I’m away.

We have lived in this same house and neighborhood for almost 9 years now, and we have seen increasing prosperity around us. You see fewer old funky cars. So many homes have been upgraded with terraces, extra rooms, covered parking areas, or other improvements. There has also been a lot of new construction. So except for the temporary standstill caused by COVID, it feels like there has been steady upward progress and a middle class that is thriving.

And, speaking of COVID, the country is doing well. The numbers of cases and hospitalizations have been steadily dropping. and the recent news reports that more than 5.3 doses of vaccine have been given (Panama has about 4.4 million people, about 3 million over 18 years old). They also just announced a vaccine tourism program. Anyone over 30 can come and spend two nights in a hotel and get a vaccine (they must follow all the entry and quarantine requirements). Panama thinks this might boost tourism and make vaccines available to neighbors who may be having a hard time getting a vaccine. They think the supply here is good enough that this won’t impact the people here.

Anyway, enough on that subject! We were all beyond tired of it a year ago. Other things – I “redecorated” my room a bit. My grandkids had some art saved for me when I visited, and we did some more together so I recently put it up on the walls of my office or practice room.

Well not really an office since my main office is outdoors on the terrace. How nice to be able to use this outdoor office all the time. Once in a while an afternoon is too hot, or there is some invasion of bugs, but that’s unusual. I can usually enjoy the terrace anytime of day or night. It’s rainy season now and I also enjoy sitting on the terrace and watching the rain. Yesterday though, oh my goodness what a rain that was!

Last night the band played also (thankfully the crazy rain died down before we had to leave). We usually play on Sundays, but the Saturday band was out of town so we covered for them. What a night! There was a good crowd and people were dancing and singing along and having a wonderful time. I feel like we spent so much time practicing when we were locked in the house, and now we have a few weeks of playing out under our belts, and things are really coming together. And then, to be that well received by the audience, it’s great.

So, we have a lot of things to smile about. Right now it’s Sunday, early afternoon, and I’m outside on the terrace. The family next door is chatting on their terrace with grandma who is visiting for the weekend. The neighborhood has it’s usual sounds of birds, a dog barking, a rooster down the street, and a lawn mower. It’s sunny, about 87, so I have a small fan next to me, but the clouds are starting to gather so it will cool off in a while. It’s a good life and we are very thankful!

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