Ten days ago, I was about to start making dinner when casually, my brother walked into my kitchen. My kitchen in PANAMA. I had absolutely NO idea that he and Juan had been scheming this surprise visit for weeks. I stood there dumbfounded and beyond-belief excited to see him, and to learn that he’d be here on vacation, for over a week.
Over the course of his visit, Juan, Joaquin and I showed Andy what our life is like here in Panama. We made a lot of home cooked meals, we took walks and photos all around the hood, we went for dinners and drinks, we laughed, we had heart-to-hearts, and overall, we just CAUGHT UP. One day, he drove out to the Darien jungle with Juan where they got muddy, used machetes, saw wildlife, explored, examined trees, and brought home cacao, mangos, bananas and avocados. As you may have read in my last post, Andy climbed almost SEVEN feet up a palm tree and drank fresh coconut water – it was seriously like a scene out of MacGeyver! I took him to the Panama Canal and our local supermarket. He sat white-knuckled as I wove us through wild traffic in Panama City. We ate dinner during a beetle storm, caught wild blue crabs, found a porky on the beach (which I didn’t chuck), videoed cutter ants hard at work, drank beers for lunch, took naps, complained about the heat, and chased after Mr. Fox. He saw the trash and the craziness in the streets, he sat in on one of my drama classes, he met a bunch of our friends, and he attempted Spanish. He was so eager to see me as I am in Panama, and he supported, challenged, and encouraged me the way he always has.
When I dropped Andy off at the airport yesterday, I couldn’t help but start crying as soon as I pulled away from the curb. Suddenly, the air felt heavy and empty, and for the next few hours Panama didn’t quite feel as much like home as usual. Having my brother here, watching him unwind and relax and live what I have been living for three years, was so incredibly special. Witnessing the bond between Uncle Andy and Joaquin grow so strong, nearly made me want to burst. When I got home later that night after dropping him off, I could see Joaquin looking past me, waiting for Andy to trail behind. My heart broke but I felt so happy at the same time.
So, you see, living abroad is amazing but it’s not always easy. It’s an annoyingly fine line and bitterly sweet. I realized that with my brother here, my life in Casco Viejo was even that much more FULL and when I had to say goodbye to him, a piece of home left with him. I feel so lucky to have such a cool, quirky, creative, enthusiastic, and true friend & brother as I do in Andy, and even luckier that for a short time, my two worlds came together.
My brother Andy is a photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area – check out his website! www.purkinjeblue.com
Photos: Andy & Joaquin in My Window : Juan & Joaquin on Andy’s Shoulders : Photographing on the Cinta Costera : Dad Uncle Joaco : Andy at Teatro Amador : Pusing the Prince : Joaquin’s Uncle the Photographer : First Night Here : Mi Hermano