Dinner tonight was summer rolls again; used up all the leftover supplies from yesterday and added some sauteed green beans to the fillings. So I decided to write about our big move instead; food isn't the only thing going on with us.
This is the text of the email I sent to friends and family when we had been here a few weeks. Sorry for the repetition but it covered all the things I wanted to cover, and sweet Jack has a fever, so it saved me some work!
I'm sorry to take so long to be in touch but the last few weeks have been a little crazy. We arrived in Panama last Tuesday and were able to move straight into our house (sometimes the house isn't ready or vacated yet, but we were really lucky). It's really fantastic. I've attached some photos. It's the first time I haven't had to share a bathroom with the kids and I have to admit it's pretty nice. The kitchen is really good, and the driveway / garage is still my favorite part. The backyard is big enough for the kids to run around in and we keep some squirt guns and toys back there for them to use at will. They have a little playroom and there's just enough space.
Our "stuff" arrived this past Tuesday and I think I'm mostly unpacked and fairly well organized. There are closets EVERYWHERE so it makes it a lot easier to fit things in than it did in DC! It was nice to have traveled light, though - the movers said I brought about half the amount of stuff that most families do.
The reception has been so nice - people really understand being displaced and take care of newcomers. There are at least 8 other Embassy families in our little gated neighborhood (about 100 houses altogether) and most of the kids are under 10. All but 2 kids are also going to the school I picked out for the boys, so it's a real neighborhood feel. The kids went to one week of day camp this past week and by day 2 they both had kids asking to sit with them on the bus.
Oh, the bus! Would you believe they come to each kid's door and pick them up and drop them off outside of our house?! So looking forward to not driving back and forth to school every day!!
On Friday evenings, one family will order pizza and put out some chips and everyone comes over and the kids ride bikes and scooters in the street while the parents drink beer and chat. It's really lovely. There's a little 1970's playground right next to our house - old-school teeter-totters and a "carousel." The kids meet up there or at the park down the street that has more stuff to play on. The freedom here is new for the boys - riding bikes in the street, and even letting Nate go to the playground next door by himself. It's a breath of fresh air.
The Embassy is about a half-mile up the road and we head up there every third day or so to take advantage of their pool. I'm arranging for a swim teacher to come meet us there once a week to give the boys swimming lessons. Gymnastics here is really popular which is great for the boys, and it's the only thing (besides the housekeeper) which is cheap compared to home - $30/month for a class that meets 3 times a week!! Silver Stars was busting the budget at $100/month for once a week.
We went for a hike in the jungle today and saw real banana trees, birds of paradise growing like weeds, and crazy-big spiders. Another benefit here is that I lose weight just standing still and sweating. :-) I've applied for a part-time "as needed" position with the embassy and hope to hear something soon. They've had me in for my language testing but no official interview yet. Our housekeeper Celia starts on August 15th and will be taking care of laundry, cleaning, making beds, and she'll watch Jack every day from 1-4 (when Nate will arrive home). It's ridiculously luxurious just to think about. She's fluent in English which is a huge blessing because there really is very little English here. I have some basic Spanish and it's getting a workout! There's a little store a few blocks from the house, kinda like our 7-11 on the corner of Q and Rhode Island. But it has liquor too. :-)
It rains every afternoon around 1, and stays cloudy most of the rest of the day. I love it. We sit in the backyard under the canopy and listen to it pour. Jack gets naked and runs around.
We finally got Internet a few days ago, and cable. Now I just need a phone!
After our car arrives this week, we'll have more opportunity to travel around. So far we've mostly stuck to home but we'll start branching out soon. The kids seem to be handling the move just fine. They miss their Grandparents and mention their friends, but they seem to be very adaptable. School starts on August 16th which will be great for getting them even more involved with friends and sports and whatnot. They sleep like the dead here (the heat and activities wear them out); Jack fell out of bed the other night and just kept sleeping on the tile floor. :-)
I really like it here, but I miss my family and friends. Please stay in touch and let me know how you all are doing. Everyone says that January - April is absolutely gorgeous here. Buy your tickets now!!!