Yes, it’s time to start anticipating Panama 2017. I’ll be there from January 26- February 11. Friend Sally will join me for the whole time, and friends Mary and Emily Ross will join us for week one. We’re going to be in a penthouse condo this year, up the beach from the villa I usually rent — just to try something new.
Gloria will, of course, return to cook for us. She is going to be a grandmother again. Daughter in law Fani is expecting a little girl, who will be born about two months after we leave. Gabrielito will be a big brother.
Some of you have asked about medical care via the public system in Panama, which is what is accessible to the villagers. Clearly Fani is getting pre-natal care, which includes finding out the sex of the baby. It’s still true that any complications of pregnancy mean a trip into Panama City, and that includes during childbirth. If there is maternal or fetal distress, they load the woman into a van and send her the two hours down the Pan American highway. There’s no medical support on the van, not even oxygen. As you can imagine, the perinatal maternal and child death rate is pretty high if anything untoward occurs. It’s a risk that any young village woman who wants to bear a child has to take.
There is also some anxiety about the history of cardiac problems in Gloria’s extended family, and Fani and Gabriel held off trying for another child out of fear that Gabrielito’s Tetralogy of Fallot would reoccur. With reasonable assurance that it’s unlikely, they are pregnant again and eagerly awaiting their daughter. Gloria, as you can imagine, is ecstatic.