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Hi Michelle. I miss talking to you and all the JM moms. Feel free to copy this email to JM to say hi to all the ladies there especially debating women.
We arrived in Panama yesterday (November 29th). It is a bit early. We decided leave Brazil for Panama a bit early so that we could arrive in time for my brother and cousins graduation and the birth of my coming nephew or niece (she is due any day now!).
Brazil was amazing but also quite a hassle this year. The town where my husband's family lives is very remote and they are building a highway right next to it. It isn't like in the states with health regulations and gasoline, dust, smoke, etcetc are everywhere. Two of the construction workers were arrested stealing from a family down the street. My husband was not finished with his work here but we decided that it would be best to depart early (as well as wanting to see the graduation/birth). However, his mother is doing a lot better (she has been ill on and off for a while now). I tried to get her to come to Panama with us to get away from the conditions there right now, but she has never left before and she definitely wasn't going to start now! Oh well, I tried.
Sofia, Isa, and Juan (jr) enjoyed their time with my husband's family. I had a very teary moment when Juan (my husband) decided to take Sofia to see the orphamage where he was born and lived for a while. I went along but held back so that they would have the time together. She is just old enough to begin to understand more complex things. I also have some good pictures I would love to share with the women on JM. I didn't take any of the children, just the places and conditions.
Now we are in Panama City, where my family is living currently. I grew up outside Colon, but my family has basically moved to the city because of the HUGE expansion happening here. (they own construction business) It is bittersweet. Huge towering buildings are being errected amongst the older ones. I am on the phone dictating this letter and from here I can count 5 buildings being build. They are all 40 stories and higher (luxury apartment complexes). A poster in the airport said that Panama is the number 1 retirement destination. I am not sure what they are basing this on...but, from what I see I really believe it.
But, like I said, it is bittersweet. THe government is throwing people from their houses to build. They cut off a entire fishing community by building a huge highway right in front of their little area and now the water no longer flows to their docks. There weren't even compensated. There are huge shopping malls now and fancy restaurants and crazy huge shopping centers. If I didn't tell you you were in Panama city you might think you were in the states. But the infrastructure is not built for this in Panama. I fear there will be a catastrophy if this continues. YOu cannot even drive anymore becuase of the traffic and roads falling apart. The minimum wage has not changed from 88 cents on the low end to 1.50 on the high end (no, I am not kidding). But costs are like the states. I paid 3.99 for a bag of rice, 3.29 for oranges, 1.59 for a bottle of soda, for example. I see implosion coming. Some things are still cheaper obviously, but costs are rising fast with the expansion and wages are not moving at all. Panama uses the dollar so there is no conversion.
Today Juan rolled onto his tummy for the first time. Isa has learned many new words and Sofia is learning how to dive next week with her cousin's team. I am glad they are getting this time to become closer to the family that they see very little of. I want to write much more but I faer Jen will kill me for it taking so long to retype this. I will try to get on the internet later in the week with my mother's office computer.
I hope you are doing well! If you email me back I will not be able to reply for a while so don't think I am ignoring you.