Living in Central America for 8 Weeks: Final Lessons (Part VII)

I thought I’d end this series with five brief lessons. Here goes!

It’s all America

I’ve stopped referring to the United States as “America.” Although we all learn that there is North America, Central America, and South America, quite honestly, when you say “America,” I think you’re talking about my home country. However, Central America can also be called “America.” I suspect the United States cornered the market on being the America, and I could probably pontificate on how and why, but I won’t. Living in Central America has reinforced the idea that I should just refer to where I live as the States.

Being surrounded by women who are shaped like you gives you confidence.

It didn’t take me long to notice all of the brown women in Costa Rica were short with wide hips. Panamanian women were more diverse looking, but most of them were just as short with wide hips. That’s how I look, and growing up, I really didn’t have anyone who was shaped like me. A lot of the time, I felt like a short, squat, fat girl. But seeing Central American women wear whatever they wanted at the beach or on the street helped me gain a bit of confidence about my own self. I’m fine the way I am, and I can wear what I want.

People will project their fears onto you if you let them.

While Dwight and I were away, a few people commented on how I’d “abandoned” my children. The “children” they were so worried about are nineteen and twenty-two. I thought they were joking, but one continued with “They still need their Mama.” After this happened a few times, I stopped defending myself. The way I see it, people’s comments always demonstrate more about their own fears, insecurities, and jealousies and less about me and what I’m doing. Plus, I know what real abandonment looks like, and it ain’t when your parents take an eight-week trip.

There are many ways to show care but doing nothing at all means you don’t care…about something.

Years ago, I got into an argument with my former therapist about this. Dwight and I discuss it frequently, and I’m sure he still disagrees lol During this trip, though, the concept was solidified.

While I was away, I could only speak with iPhone users easily. If you had a Galaxy or something else, then you had to download WhatsApp so we could talk. Several friends did this. Others did not because we communicated in other ways (Viber, social media, email, etc.).

Now, there is another group of people who I didn’t talk to for eight consecutive weeks because they didn’t download the app, leaving us with no way to keep in touch. I know there could be a million reasons why, but I firmly believe that if you know I was out of the country, and you chose not to engage (even though I asked you to get WhatsApp several times), then there’s something you don’t care about. Maybe our relationship is not a priority. Maybe you don’t care about talking and finding out how someone is doing (immediately). Maybe you don’t value virtual conversations. Whatever it is, there is a lack of care.

There’s no such thing as the “perfect” situation.

We stayed in an Airbnb in both countries. In Costa Rica, we lived in a house in the mountains. We were so high up that I could almost reach out and touch the hawks that flew by every afternoon. Because the owner had two mirrors, we woke up to a 360-view of the mountains every single day. However, it was noisy. A rooster crowed every day from about four in the morning to at least five in the afternoon. Someone’s car alarm sounded every afternoon around three. And because we were in the mountains, every so often you’d hear screeching brakes from a semi or old car. It wasn’t perfect.

In Panamá, we stayed in an area called Casco Viejo in a brand-new apartment. We were in walking distance from touristy shops and trendy restaurants that played music from Friday through Sunday. We were a $2-5-Uber drive away from two malls. We were minutes away from grocery stores that sold familiar products, such as Tide, cranberry juice, and trail mix. However, it was noisy. The apartment wasn’t just new, it was still being built. That meant Monday through Saturday, we were awakened to hammering, sawing, and yelling from seven in the morning until five in the evening. Making phone calls or attending virtual meetings were arduous tasks. Likewise, because we were in walking distance of restaurants and bars, we were also within hearing distance (from the terrace) of every type of music you could imagine from all directions.

This trip reinforced the idea that something will always have to give. There will always be something that will annoy you about places (or even people). The idea is to know what you can live with and go from there.

Agree or disagree…let me know what you all think.

Special thank you to each and every person who has read, commented, liked, or shared any of these posts. I’m very appreciative ❤



63 thoughts on “Living in Central America for 8 Weeks: Final Lessons (Part VII)

  1. I’ve loved reading all of these posts. I know you said you’re not moving to either country, but if you were to pick one, which one would it be?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Akilah! It’s hard to say. I really, really, really enjoyed Costa Rica. I think I could live there, and the people are really nice.

      I like cities, though, and Panama City is definitely a city (think Miami or Barcelona), but the people took a while to warm up to us. And as you know, I’m big on communing with people.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like you had a great adventure! I especially agree with your conclusion that there is no such thing as a perfect situation. And if there is, it’s you making it perfect in your mind. I like that you rolled with it. That’s one of the coolest things about travel to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing your adventures!… glad you were able to realize you dream, not doubt created many memories….. getting out of ones environment and seeing another part of the universe can often wake up feelings and thoughts one had hidden, for a number of reasons, and one suddenly realizing one wasn’t being themselves… “When someone tells you “you’ve changed”, it might be because you have stopped living your life their way”..( John Pence)… 🙂

    As for me, unless someone needs a shipping address, I just call it “home”… as for communication I would need all the circumstances, etc before I would make any judgement…. 🙂

    A tongue can accuse and carry bad news
    The seeds of distrust, it can sow,
    So unless you know the truth and only the truth
    Be careful of stones that you throw.
    (Larry “Dutch” Woller )

    Until we meet again..
    May the dreams you hold dearest
    Be those which come true
    May the kindness you spread
    Keep returning to you
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Dutch! You always bring kindness when you stop by ❤

      RE: Communication…I have my answers seeming as I still haven't heard from those individuals 😉 lol

      Like

  4. I’m reminded of my friend from Brazil (whom I met while I was spending several months in a different country). I should mention that while I think my friend is beautiful, she has more of a short, squat body type and looks nothing like fellow Brazilian Adriana Lima. She said that in Brazil, everyone goes to the beach in revealing swim suits and because of that, she had no qualms about wearing a revealing swim suit herself, even without having a Victoria’s Secret model body.

    I hear you on the not caring thing, but I’ll admit that if my friend told me they were going on vacation, I would probably assume they didn’t want to be bothered and that I’d talk to them when they got back.

    The judgy comments and lack of perfect situations – two universal truths of life.

    I really enjoyed your series about your trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a Dominican friend who said something similar. She said she never felt self conscious about her body, until she moved to the States! I totally understand why after visiting another country where they don’t seem to care about that at all.

      I agree with you if the “vacation” was traditional. I’m maintaining my stance that if we’re “friends” and I tell you I’ll be gone for 8 weeks, and you’re like oh okay…and don’t take the necessary steps to remain in contact, then I gotta re-think some things.

      Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and liking each one ❤

      Like

  5. This was an enjoyable and engaging series, thank you for sharing your experience with us. Your final lessons are brilliant as well as thought-provoking. I resonate with, and especially agree that there’s no such thing as the “perfect” situation or place. Travelling always reminds me of this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another way of looking at it is that the non downloaders did care, but about something other than whatsapp. It was fun chatting with you while you were ‘away’… I felt like I waa on holiday too. I love that the apartment was so new it was still being built 😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree Mek. I think I probably should’ve re-phrased this, but I’m not sure to what. I do the non-downloaders didn’t care about talking to me…for sure because they still haven’t said a word lol

      Talking to you and all of my friends/family was one of the most fun parts. I felt like you all were with me, too lol

      Dude…that renovated apartment was the best/worst situation LOL

      Like

  7. So much to love about your adventure with Dwight! And your lessons Dr. G!

    I can relate to every single one of them. From “there is no such thing as a perfect situation” (unmet expectations, I can relate!) to “abandoning your kids”. . I always thank my mom for giving us so much freedom and independence at such a young age because in doing so, she raised FREE INDEPENDENT THINKERS. The neighbours rarely agreed! (they gossiped often) BUT the proof is in the pudding.

    Thank you for sharing all that you do. I continue to be in awe of what an incredible writer and story teller you are. You a) have the gift b) you work hard at it c) you are in the right profession! d) how blessed your students are.

    Wishing you a wonderful start to the summer!
    Dr. D xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I keep seeing a really clear image of busybody neighbors talking about Andrea’s parents lol People are so aggravating sometimes, but you’re living proof that people can parent (and do) whatever they want, however they want 😉

      You’re so welcome, and thank YOU for reading, liking, and commenting. You know I appreciate it and you ❤

      I'm ending my semester in 3, 2, 1 day!!! Best of luck with yours!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OMG Dr. G! Double on the G! (For all of this) Cheering you on as your wrap the semester up. I did a little tiptoe back into Insta to see if I can handle the (social) media info overload. Baby steps.. Grateful to have you unconditionally by my side. 💜🕺🏼🎶

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I do agree that most of the time when we’re criticizing others, we’re also projecting our own fears onto them. Maybe the people who had a problem with you living away for a while had sons and daughters who still needed their parents nearby, but why assume that yours did? Or that you didn’t know your own offspring well enough to know whether or not an extended trip would be a problem? It’s just silly how we try to make everyone else “just like us,” knowing full well that we aren’t perfect ourselves!

    As for learning to be happy with what you have, or at least use that as a starting point, I couldn’t agree more. Once we stop expecting perfection or all our needs to be met, we can actually be happy…..but not until. There is no perfect situation and there never will be! And as someone who has always carried her extra weight in her hips (and my hips are the widest part of my body no matter what I weigh), I think I’d love to spend time in a society where that is the norm! I’m old enough that I grew up in a time when the supermodel named Twiggy (you can google her, but her name says it all) was considered the standard for female beauty. Ughhh…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thinking something similar about the abandonment jokes…I’m sure a few of those people wish they could figure out how to leave for a longer time and actually be okay with not seeing their children for a minute. And that is exactly the part, aside from themselves, I think Dwight and I know our daughters well enough to understand what would be sufficient 😉

      I remember Twiggy (well, her name at least). It’s amazing how many of us grow up with these slight body insecurities for varied reasons.

      Like

  9. Hmmm…the whole what’s app thing…I don’t have an iPhone which means I would be o e of those users who would have needed an app. I’ll just give you an insight. I now have a Google phone. Prior to this I had a Samsung galaxy. The usable space on many Samsung phones (especially the less expensive versions, which frankly is why many choose galaxy’s
    Over iPhones) is very small. Before I got a new phone I literally didn’t have space fo apps, as I had to delete them because every update gives you less space. And even with an added SIM card, the SIM card could not hold apps, just photos. It might not be that they didn’t want to talk to you via app…they might not have been able to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a great alternative, and I hope you know I appreciate you offering it. I know a million things could’ve happened (well, maybe like 5 scenarios). Even if what you’ve said was a thing for someone, I’m wondering why not just say, “Hey girl! I wish I could download XYZ, but my phone ABC!” You know I’m always wondering about the relationship details of things 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. To be fair, I’ve said to my family that I couldn’t put an app on my phone and they thought it was pretty pathetic that my phone had such little memory, which made be feel a bit silly

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I loved what you shared about women, their styles and confidence. I chuckled at how people judge for ‘abandoning’ your kids 😅 you said it all perfectly, just makes me laugh now and move on at various things I would have to try to explain – what it looks like to them and why it is absolutely valid in my life.

    I was wondering about keeping in touch virtually – I am not sure if and how this would change depending on person but I am very stingy about downloading new apps. I am someone who would care about a friend and yet be ok not being in touch for a length of time, pick up from where we left off, fill in about time in between when we connect again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t that funny to actually use the word “abandoned?” lol

      I think a lot of people are “stingy about downloading new apps.” I mean, we all have enough apps as it is, so I understand that part. But I think it also shows what I’m saying lol you value saving space on your phone; as a result…you’ll talk to your friend later.

      I almost added (above) that it’s okay to prioritize other things, but I think we human beings have a hard time admitting it for fear of…I don’t know what.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha you ‘made me look’ LOL about saving space on phone vs staying connected to a friend. This choice hasn’t come up for me yet and I do hope I have all my heart for those whom I call my friend :)))

        Liked by 1 person

  11. A wonderful concluding post, Katherin! Your summary made me smile. I’ll bet those people questioning you about “abandoning your kids,” don’t realize that you are gifting them. You demonstrated how you believe in their resilience to handle life, and to manage independently. I’ll bet it even added another layer for them to appreciate their parents even more!
    I would say that for any trip – too much noise would be unsettling for me. Perhaps it can’t be avoided, but I love peace and quiet. Too bad Airbnbs don’t have a noise rating!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this Judy! It’s like when kids are babies, and you’re supposed to leave them for a few hours to show them people can leave and then come back…like it’ll be okay. I feel as if it’s the same concept, just with young adults. I agree that it probably also shows them they can do things on their own, and like they did, when something is not manageable, just pick up the phone 😉

      Guess what??? They do have a noise rating! I definitely left the review for the second Airbnb…the owner didn’t like it one bit lol

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Yeah, fears of another are not mine. HaHa 19 & 22 are adults. AND 8-weeks is not long enough to be actually abandoned. I mean you did tell them where you were going, right? LOL I don’t know the reasons for people not making an effort to stay in contact with you, but on vacation I don’t use email or social media, and don’t even use my phone much except when necessary. You weren’t really vacationing, so that’s different, but I like to travel without interruptions and get away from my every-day life. Then I will catch up after I get back home. Like we just did with your posts about your trip. Fun! I enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet, you’d be surprised how many people do not think 19 and 22 are an adult age lol

      You know what? You’ve made me think about the keeping in touch thing a little more. It could be because of what I mentioned before. If people didn’t really know how to define what we were doing, then maybe they did think of it like we’re on vacay, so maybe we don’t wanna be bothered.

      Who knows lol

      Thank you for reading, commenting, and liking! I’m glad you enjoyed it ❤

      Like

  13. Loved it! Imagining everything from your words! It was beautiful
    Quick questions- are your gonna settle there or come back?
    Did you really enjoy living there? like as a tourist point of view?
    I’m done 😁

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! So, we’re already back 😉 I really did enjoy living there as a tourist, but I wouldn’t want to live in either of those countries permanently.

      Like

      1. Sometimes I think about if stuff got really bad in the U.S., where could I move? Canada is the only place that even remotely sounds doable for me. I know someone who moved to London, and I would not have adapted as well as she did. I only know English, so anywhere else I would have to learn a new language. At my age, that won’t be happening.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Love, love, love all 5 of your lessons, Kathy. They all resonate with me, including, as a Canadian, the first one! Re abandoning your kids, all that means is that you’ve raised them just fine and you’re confident that they are responsible young adults. Bravo! 😊👍

    Liked by 3 people

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