Lily just sent me this photo collage which she made from pictures she took during the visit of my niece and nephew and their families around this time last year. I’m always touched by the the Panamanian expansive sense of family: once you visit, you are part of their lives forever in a way different from a casual trip to see a new country. Part of that has to do with their lived experience. If anyone from the village travels, mostly to the U.S., it’s to see a family member who has married and moved there. The idea that people have money just to go places is pretty much beyond their imagination. So, if you come to the village to see them, the mental “fit” is that you are coming to see family. And they embrace my guests with open arms, as family.
Lily loved meeting the east coast clan, and she spent a lot of time talking professionally with Peter and Erica, who are both pharmacists here in the U.S. Lily has a higher professional degree and a very different lifestyle from most of her cousins. I’d say that her professional world is a better fit for the people you see here than it is within her blood family. She cherishes these opportunities to be with people whose lives are more similar to hers. And, she is always proud to show off her beautiful country.
I sent the pic to Bryna and Erica and their families, and Bryna sent back a note that they are eager to think of returning to Panama. That would, all the way around, be quite a thrill.
From top left: niece Bryna and her husband Mike, Lily, nephew Peter and his wife Erica, Ali, who is Peter and Erica’s daughter, Aunt Pam with Max, who is Bryna and Mike’s son, and Matthew holding a Mari pinata. Matthew is Peter and Erica’s son. Missing is Becca, Bryna and Mike’s daughter, who who was an enthusiastic part of the trip.