In my site, other than my secret stash of candy canes that I had hidden from the kids (that the roaches and ants still found), my pine tree scented candle, and the dish towel with a little Christmas tree on it from my Grandma, it is very easy to forget that it is in fact not July. However yesterday, after a crazy adventure getting out of site with a flooded out road and needing to get half a dozen small kids and a dozen gas tanks cross a 100 yd stretch of almost knee deep water, I picked up the BIGGEST care package box and raced to the bus stop. It started to feel like Christmas when I got on a NICE bus with Ben and I thanked him for waiting for me (for almost 90 min, as 2 previous buses left for the city) by splitting the rest of my cookies and chex mix from my birthday package a few weeks ago.
I believe in Christmas miracles because I experienced on firsthand when as we stopped at our first border poice checkpoint and a longline of SENAFRONT soldiers ran out of the barracks, packs in hand, and filled up every last seat on the bus. Because we were now a bus mostly SENAFRONT we didnt even have to get checked at any more checkpoints. Merely 3 hours later we entered the city limits and started dropping off policia and random people at their various stops. It took 2 hours to go the last few miles to the mall/terminal, but I was a happy camper listening to my Lord of the Rings soundtracks and getting excited about seeing The Hobbit.
It is 12:30pm on Christmas Eve and it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I have cookie dough waiting for me in the fridge, a ham thawing on the counter, and the hostel even has a decorated tree in its lobby. While my PCV orphan Christmas might be a small family, just 4 of us tonight for dinner, it will no doubt be full of good food, english Christmas music, and undoubtedly great stories. The best part is getting to celebrate it with people who appreciate the true meaning of Christmas as well, and not just as another few days off to spend drinking in the cantina.
I am told it is currently 9 degrees in Nebraska right now and I saw legitimate snow while skyping Deanna this morning, so my bright and sunny 97 degrees feels very different. (btw when I took a guess at the temp, I guessed that it was 80-85 degrees here right now...if only the Darien had thermometers!)
I will be visiting my host family from training tomorrow and meeting the families of some of my fellow volunteers, maybe figuring out why they are so weird, haha. I look forward to one year from now when, si Dios quiere, my own family will be here to celebrate a Panamanian Christmas with me.
I have many more posts to share with you, but you will have to be patient with me. My community starts building this Friday and I have lots of ducks to line up in a row before then, and I want to spend as much time skyping, phone calling, and enjoying the company of my friends and family both here and afar over the next few days. (At least as much talking as my larynigitis will permit me...my voice seems to have se fue'd...)
I love and miss you all, como siempre, and I hope that you have a very merry Christmas, a prosperous new year, and I know that I am very blessed to have so many supportive readers. I couldn't do it without you!