Moving often and living in new cities and countries involves starting over. Obviously, the starting over includes basic things like an apartment, a job, discovering the local hangouts and markets, transportation, the general day-to-day stuff. But, moving abroad is also largely made up of the people that we meet along the way, the friends we make, and the social circles that become our own. For me, Panama has become home for one essential reason: the friends that we have made. These are friends from literally all over the globe, friends who speak multiple languages, friends of all ages, friends who are all in Panama for different reasons, and friends with whom we have become incredibly close.
In my past experiences of living abroad, I’ve found that those best friends (the ones that become life-long friends) are always, undoubtedly the friends who I have also shared things with beyond the city or country that brought us together. I have friends from when I lived in England that I have met in multiple parts of North America, over the years, for group trips that we still happily reminisce about to this day. Those shared adventures brought us so much closer. Every trip I’ve ever taken to visit a friend in their home, the place they come from, has been real and authentic. There is nothing like getting to know people I care about outside of that place in which we met, because it always allows me to learn more about them in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise – I am able to see who they are in context of where they came from.
Juan, Joaquin, and I have been home in California for a week now. It’s been so fantastic to be here, and to be home with our families. Our visit began with two of our close friends from Panama who stopped through San Francisco and Napa during a west coast trip. Paola is Mexican, Andres is Colombian. They are two of the most sincerely goodhearted, happy, curious, enthusiastic, and kind people that I know and they have become like family to us in Panama. Having them here in California was one those experiences when I knew that our friendship went from close, to life-long. To have them in our homes, to meet our families, to drive past our old elementary schools, to walk through a farmer’s market, to take them wine tasting, to enjoy an amazing meal in SF, and to go to a brewery to sit and chat about nothing and everything, was very cool and very special.
They were just visiting, and yes, it was a quick visit. But there is something so meaningful when someone expresses a true interest in where you come from and in what makes you, you. To show them who we are beyond Panama, was great. I just hope they had a good time, because I’m already planning my trips to Mexico and Colombia.