Ok, I love my country so I feel compelled to offer some perspectives upon my return to America from Panama. How can I do this, though, without bashing one Country or the other? America is my home, my native land and with that comes some rose-colored glasses. Americans have much and we can take it for granted. In my experience, people in other countries have a sometimes truer view of America than most Americans. We can be loving, generous and kind. We can also be rude, entitled and arrogant. When we travel, like it or not, we are ambassadors for America. I have seen many cringe-worthy moments of Americans who act badly in foreign Countries and expect everyone, everywhere to speak English. Instead of remembering why we travel, to experience different cultures and surroundings, some Americans strive to get as close to their comfort zone as they can. Instead of embracing the differences, they complain about those differences loudly and obnoxiously.
I have experienced the pluses and minuses of living in a foreign country and although my frustration sometimes bubbled to the top, more often than not, being patient and open enabled me to experience some extraordinary moments.
Everyone should travel and not just to a resort. It is at once scary and exhilarating. I remember my first trip to Albrook mall in Panama where I was convinced people would be staring at me because of my blonde hair and blue eyes but no one seemed to stare. A young man in a kiosk asked me if I was Brazilian. Another one passing out advertisements asked if I was Cuban. Weirdly, no one suggested I was American. The thing I loved about Panama was that there are so many types of people from so many backgrounds, they seemed very accepting of everyone. I would even say that I didn`t witness racism, a word we throw around in America to describe almost every person who doesn’t agree with us without regard for the true meaning of the word. I am not saying it doesn’t exist there, just it wasn’t something palpable as it is here because our media is constantly talking about it. The elephant in the room that is political correctness in America, is not at the forefront of every conversation in Panama.
Life seemed simpler in Panama. Yes, most everyone has a smart phone but on Sundays you will find them outside enjoying their immediate and extended families walking, roller-blading, picnicking and doing everything BUT being on their cell phones. Most people work hard but live simply and it seems for the most part, happily.
It’s good to be home, but I am starting to feel that travel itch again already.