We’re going home today!!! I’m so glad we have to leave early because my excitement about going home is making me jittery. I kind of feel bad because Kristian doesn’t share my enthusiasm. If it were entirely up to him, we’d be going home only to sell our stuff and move here. Panama does have a lot to offer, but I find that there are too many differences that I would have to face all at once: language, food (mainly grocery store options,) heat/humidity (it feels worse than TX!), and then all the cultural differences that affect behavior, driving, etc.
Our last breakfast in Panama
Last-minute Panama Sightseeing!
At 11:30, our private driver, scheduled by Angelina, pulled up to take us to the Tocumen International Airport. Instead of the typical compact, yellow cab, he drove one of the popular Hyundai H1 mini vans. I’m telling you, these vans are cool! Everyone has their own, very comfy captain’s chair and there seems to be a lot of storage space. Even the front seats have a fold-down extra seat between them, so I think I counted 9 possible seats.
Anyway, on our way to the airport, Kristian had to hit an ATM, so while we were in this particular area of the city, the driver took the liberty of showing us some of the buildings worth noting, including Trump Plaza. He showed us where the ocean used to meet the land and how they extended the city by dropping loads of rock and dirt into the ocean. Panama City is considerably larger now because of that. Pretty amazing.
Arriving at the airport isn’t quite the culture shock that it was on Day 1. In fact, I didn’t even notice the pot holes, trash, etc. I’m very used to the state of the country, but certainly not liking the unkempt part of it.
Boarding in Panama was as uneventful as arriving in Panama as far as procedure. Easy peasy, though we did have to go through an additional baggage and body scan right at the gate, which was new for me. Aside from some jolting turbulence, the flight was smooth as well. When we arrived in Houston, we found out that our flight has been delayed an additional hour, so now we have a 3 hour layover instead of 2, which is going to put us in Austin around 11:30 pm. Ugh. It’s not so bad for Kristian and I, but by 9 pm, the boys are exhausted. Karter is looking for a comfortable chair to curl up on in the airport. Poor guy.
It’s a good thing that we have such a layover actually, because getting through security and customs in the U.S. is RIDICULOUS. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the extra precautions, but it did seem over the top. We probably went through 3 or 4 procedures to get to our connecting flight. First was customs which in itself was easy, but the line was incredibly long even though they had 40 stations. Yes, I counted the stations to pass the time. Second was someone who questioned the contents of our bags. Again, very quick – the line was the only issue. Upstairs, we got in another line which was your typical TSA body and baggage scan. I thought this was silly because we had all JUST deboarded a plane and didn’t have an opportunity to pick up any liquids or machetes between our plane and this point. I actually feel like I’m forgetting 1 or 2 checkpoints. I’ll have to ask Kristian if he remembers another one.
In line for U.S. customs
On our 45 minute flight to Austin, both boys fell asleep. Waking Kole to deboard the plane wasn’t difficult but Karter was so disoriented, that when I told him to walk out of the plane, he climbed back on the chair and went back to sleep. I felt so bad, but I couldn’t help giggling, which made him start crying. Bad mommy. I held his hand as we walked out of the plane, but as we exited the terminal, he was tripping on his own feet. What’s a loving mother to do? Let him ride my suitcase of course!!! He straddled the telescoping handle on my carry-on as I pushed him through the airport. We had some laughs as we rolled past Kole and Kristian.
Our friend, Taylor, was already here waiting (so thankful!) so we were able to get right home. Uuuuunfortunately, when we did finally get home at 12:30 am, though we had a garage door opener, I didn’t remember that the inside garage door that leads to the house was locked… and we don’t have a key. We left our only key with the neighbor who’s been caring for our plants while we were away. Oh, and by the way, when we got home, I noticed that Karter, in his sleepiness, had unbuckled his car seat on the way home and had turned around in his seat! We were driving 70 mph and he didn’t have a seat belt on! Ohmyword.
After failing to break into our own house, we tried texting and calling the neighbor who has our key. No luck. We reluctantly knocked on their door and rang the doorbell, but no answer. At this point, I’m just thinking, “I’m so tired!!! The last thing I want to do is spend another night in a hotel room!” As a last resort, we knocked on our landlord’s door, who happens to live next door. Sure enough, he answered and brought us a key!!! Thank you, God!!! It was 2 am when we finally walked in the front door, but I don’t care. I’m home.
Stayed tuned for some informational posts regarding traveling to Panama, reasons why I wouldn’t want move to Panama, reasons why Kristian would move to Panama, recommended places to visit, and more!