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 ❤



Corona Chronicles: Revelations 2020

Early in the pandemic, a lot of people asked what we had learned. My initial answer was nothing. But that’s because we hadn’t been experiencing a COVID-19 society long enough for me to have learned anything. Eventually, my life was just as troubling as everyone else’s. With that said, I won’t lament on my perceived loss, but I do want to share what was new or revived this year, with a few explanations.

  1. Watching a funeral on Facebook Live is both weird and convenient and it’s not something I think I would’ve ever participated in had it not be for COVID-19 (the funeral wasn’t COVID related).
  2. There are a lot of ways to connect with friends and family, like playing a virtual game. I would share the host’s site, but she has a bunch of grammar errors and I feel strongly about that. Instead, here’s a link to virtual games you can play with others: Games to Play on Zoom.
  3. Traveling by airplane during a pandemic isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
  4. States’ rights mean different states have vastly different rules, and I was able to see this firsthand. For example, Michiganders (and others in the Midwest) seem to think they cannot catch COVID-19 if they’re outside. No matter how many friends try to explain the logic of a virus dissipating in air, it just doesn’t make sense to me. But hey…I’m no virologist.  
  5. A road trip during a pandemic is actually a safe way to change your surroundings.
  6. Josh’s red blend is superb. It’s made with a blend of fruits, not wines (which is something else I learned to differentiate this year).
  7. Participating in 10,989 Zoom meetings is not fun. Okay. That’s not true. I only participated in like 9,989, but they still were annoying. What’s funny to me is that I spent a bit of time three years ago trying to convince my job that it was okay for me to Zoom into a meeting. Now, it’s pretty much expected. Isn’t life funny?
  8. Reconnecting with high school friends because of Zoom has been fulfilling.
  9. Slowing down helped me to clearly see friends’ and family members’ personalities for the first time.
  10. A pandemic seemed to have helped people reveal their whole selves for the first time.
  11. I need more peace and quiet than I thought. I always knew my husband was a morning person and I was a night owl; however, I didn’t realize just how “ready to rule the day” he is in the AM and how talkative he is throughout the day…until we began working from the same home space. I use my noise cancelling headphones when I need to concentrate.
  12. My body holds on to stress no matter how much reading and yoga I do. I came to this conclusion when I developed a rash that took up the length of my left arm. It’s healing, but it’s been there since May or so. A biopsy showed that it is lichen striatus. The only explanation is that it’s genetic and stress related. What can I say?
  13. I can only tolerate stay-at-home orders for three months.
  14. Escapism is my go-to when anything gets uncomfortable. I wrote about reading before, but the reality is I’ll go through great lengths to feel as if I’m floating, rather than feeling tethered to an awful reality, like a pandemic, social unrest, California on fire, stay-at-home mandates, nail-biting election results, etc., etc., etc…
  15. Trauma sparks my creativity. I’m not sure how I feel about this, except to say: it is what it is. This year, I’ve written quite a bit, not only on the blog, but also for other places, which I hope to be published in 2021. It’s probably another way to escape. I mean, I can go inward pretty easily; writing is just another way to do that.
  16. There’s only so much T.V. I can watch. I watched more television than I’m willing to share. I totally blame COVID-19 for this. My favorite finds were Twilight Zone (Season 2) and Modern Love, both are on Prime.
  17. More than ever, Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed to be about noticing and giving thanks for what’s in front of me, instead of what I hoped for.
  18. Others’ opinions have no place in how I feel. If I’m uneasy about something, then I should honor that feeling.
  19. Eating out has been more enjoyable. Mid-year we frequented some restaurants, and whether it was due to fear or the 50% capacity rule, there were fewer people, which seemingly improved service because the chef had time to cook food and the waitstaff had time to serve it.
  20. It’s okay to order all of the things online.

I think that’s about it. Although I’m happy to have learned, re-learned, or engaged in these experiences, I do hope that 2021 includes COVID numbers decreasing and the earth healing in multiple ways. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough.

Until then, what has 2020 shown or taught you?

~kg 12/26/20