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Everything? Wow. You know we have Columbian nuns next door! :rolleyes:

I am up for this adventure. I always wanted to live overseas. Didn't think I would be doing it with 5 kiddos in tow.

We live in Burunga, Arraijan, Panama. Over the canal from Panama City. No one believes that we live here, not another ****** in sight. That satisfies our goal of really getting into the culture.

We joke that we are the family of giraffes, because people couldn't be more surprised to see giraffes walking by as they are to see us in this town.

We speak their language, smell their smells, eat their food, love on their kids, visit in their homes. It is a true cultural experience. Our neighborhood is working class with folks making about $5-$20 a day. In all reality we are the rich gringos.

We could hire a full time housekeeper for $80 a month. We don't. We want the neighbors to see us washing clothes, taking out garbage, cooking and cleaning just like they do. We are a family that doesn't fit their sterotype of the typical wealthy (most the time retired) North American family that does no manual labor.

I love the views, the mountains, the beaches, the chicken (super fresh with no hormones!), the patacones, my neighbors, ship watching on the canal, the rain storms, the coffee...

There really isn't too much I don't like about living here. It was hard to miss my dad's funeral because DH was travelling and there was no one to take care of the kids. Flying 6 people home short notice was out of the question financially. That was by far the worst so far.

I had several "bad culture" days in the beginning, where just buying hamburger sent me to bed with the covers over my head, swearing I wasn't coming out til we were back in WV. Those days are few and far between now as we have "good culture" days most the time.

We are all speaking Spanish. We have met people from all over the world. Our church is very missions minded and we have met people who are translating the Bible into 7 tribal languages here in Panama. Our church does everything in Spanish and English.

My momma keeps lamenting that this could become a permanent move, but the mountains of WV are calling me back home.

4 months down, 9 to go!
 

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Connie - 4 months down, 9 to go - I thought this was for 6 months.. are you staying just over a year?

Love your descriptions of living down there.

How was the grocery shopping? was it several shops or a grocery store more as we know it?

Angie
 

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I'm probably going to look like a naive idiot, Connie, but I have to ask, because I know it can be a problem in some places -- are you ever afraid for your kids? I mean, you've already said that there is a certain belief of the "rich white Americans" -- was there anything your were advised about, or told to avoid, etc., with five little ones?
 

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We are staying for a year. Going through all the trouble of getting set up down here...getting a house, car, internet etc. made us realize 6 months wouldn't be enough time. We would be planning our move back by now! I'm not ready for that.

We have a Super Extra which is like a scaled down Walmart a couple of miles down the road. We can go in to Panama City and buy any American brand item we want to and pay American prices.

Most the time we go to the Mini Super just a block away. The first time I walked in there I didn't know whether to faint or throw up. It was shabby and there were flies on the meat and bread products. I walked out vowing to never feed my family anything from that store.

Well, we eat most of our meals out of there now! I can go there with a couple dollars and buy a meal for the whole family. Funny how I have slowly lost my, "I'm an American and I deserve better standards than this" attitude the longer we are here.

I was a bit nervous for my children at first. Only because people like to touch them. Especially my youngest daughter. She's tiny and blond. They just don't see people with blond hair, more so as you get into the interior of the country. People stare at my eyes because they are blue.

My children roam the neighborhood and play with all the little kids. I do keep an eye on them, but probably no more than I would in WV.

Their greatest danger is probably getting hit in the head with the mangoes the Nuns throw over the fence.
 

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A couple of questions, if you don't mind:

What do they think of Americans? America? George Bush?

I understand that the US Dollar is the official currency in Panama. True?

Alot of US made cars there?

Is there anything you miss from the US, in respect to products?

What time zone are you in? Is it the same as NY, Denver, or California?

Any chance you wanna spring for my flight? I would love to see the Canal.

That is so funny about the blue eyes and blonde hair. I would have never guessed it!

Clove
 

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connie in WV said:
Their greatest danger is probably getting hit in the head with the mangoes the Nuns throw over the fence.
Why are the nuns throwing mangoes at the kids???
Don't the nuns think your kids are
 

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connie in WV said:
We could hire a full time housekeeper for $80 a month. We don't. We want the neighbors to see us washing clothes, taking out garbage, cooking and cleaning just like they do. We are a family that doesn't fit their sterotype of the typical wealthy (most the time retired) North American family that does no manual labor.
There are different schools of thought on this -

When I lived in Tanzania we hired a woman to do our laundry, a woman to do our sewing, two young boys to do our gardening
We bought bread, fruit and more from locals that we could have easily made or gathered ourselves

I was very uncomfortable with these arrangements to begin with -
I felt like I was taking advantage, that I was the "rich white woman" etc.

HOWEVER, we made many friends this way. I don't think I've laughed as hard with anyone in my life as I did with our dear sewing woman. Our little monies paid for school for our gardener boys. We helped support the local economy.
I believe we figured a loaf of bread cost us less than a US nickel. But when we bought from the "bread man" who came on his bike with a basket on the back, we were helping to support his family. And he became a regular at our home. So did the papaya lady.

It's interesting to be immersed in another culture for a while -

If you feel like your world has been turned upside down, just wait until you get home.......it isn't pretty :baby04:
 

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We homeschool the kids. With them having no Spanish when we moved here, local schools were out of the question. The quality is a little sketchy as well. Our church has a fabulous Christian school in Spanish and English, but being bound to a school schedule puts a damper on the traveling we want to do while we are here.

Panamaians like Americans. There has been a big American presence here for many years with the building, maintaining, then giving back of the canal and Americans taking out Noriega. Also, there are many wealthy, retired Americans that move here to exclusive communities and bring lots of dollars. We don't hear too much about G.B. one way or the other.

They do use the American dollar. It's called the Balboa. The exchange rate is basically the same. They mint their own coins identical to the shape and size of US coins only with Panamaian printing on them. They use US coins as well.

We are on the same time zone with my mom in Wisconsin.

Not a whole lot of US cars. Lots of little foreign ones that are economical and little enough to get around in bad traffic. The majority of folks do not have cars. They ride very colorful and noisy "Diablo Rojos"(buses) or take taxis or simply walk.

Sunflower seeds are the only thing that we cannot get here. In the city, there is lots of high end shopping. I probably wouldn't find that within 400 miles of where I live in WV. I laughed when I saw a store devoted only to Calvin Klein UNDERWEAR!

I would love to spring for your flight, but I have to pay for my own in a couple of weeks to get to my sister's wedding!

The blond hair/blue eye thing is like that is lots of places around the world. Growing up in Wisconsin I would have never thought it special.

Typical days are mostly like in WV. Homeschool, cleaning, etc. It's the times when we go off exploring into the country that are out of the ordinary. Last weekend we went into a 5 mile crater of an inactive volcano. Our kids spend their birthdays swimming in the Caribbean. We regularly see tribal folks dressed in their traditional every day clothing. We sit by the canal and write down the names of ships, then look them up on the internet to see where they have been and what they haul.

We have learned Spanish quickly. I am going to an English as a second language class. It's 4 hours a day. Sounds strange, but they are beginning English, most of the class is in Spanish, the teacher says everything in S/E. What they have to do in E, I have to do in S.

It's funny how quickly you can learn something when you are in survival mode.

The nuns like to share their fruit, so they throw mangoes, oranges and limes over the fence, not at the kids. :) DD4 likes to go beg at their gate for fruit and will come home with her shirt full of things.

We do have a lady that comes to cook two times a week. She comes for the purpose of cooking Panamaian dishes that I wouldn't have any idea how to cook. She's paid well for her work. A gardner is included in our rent, so I guess we are helping out the local economy.

I can tell already that there is going to be adjustment when we get home. But I don't have to deal with that for awhile yet.

Phew...everything you wanted to know and probably a bit more.
 

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Very, very cool!!!!!

I am a bit envious...you are seeing the world on a first hand basis, and the highlight of my week will be meeting my great friend at McD's for lunch today, if he is available.

Thank you for answering my questions....I know you are busy.

Have you been able to help others in the S/E class?

Clove
 
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