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We've been in Panama for two days now, but it seems like weeks. There's obviously still TONS to explore around the city, but I'm already comfortable here and it even feels a bit familiar.
First of all, I love it. For me it has the ideal balance between chaos and structure. It's very safe... people are at least as friendly as they are in the US, if not moreso. They go out of their way to help us and put up with our mediocre Spanish. Our hotel right now isn't in a great area (though not a bad one either), and I feel totally safe walking a few blocks to go to a diner.
Even though it's safe, there don't seem to be a lot of minor enforced rules. Taxi drivers ignore speed limits and stop signs. The drinking and gambling age is 18, but I've heard even that's not enforced. You don't get the feeling that you're being overprotected or treated like a child.
The food has been MUCH better than expected. There are several vegetarian cafeterias that we've found already which are incredibly good and cheap. The one we visited tonight was owned by a very friendly Chinese couple (have you ever heard Chinese people speak Spanish?). There were maybe forty different dishes they had, and a serving of any one was only fifty cents. I asked for orange juice without sugar (most fruit drinks here have sugar) and they fresh squeezed it for me for only $1!
Life Nomadic has begun. Six months of not particularly careful planning and a full week of hectic scrambling to rid ourselves of nearly every earthly possesion has paid off.
As I write our first post for Life Nomadic, Todd's in the next seat over editing our first video. The kid behind me is pounding on my seat. Holy god. It's like he's playing Rock Band back there and the tray table is the drums set.
I'd always talked about freeing myself from a single location... making my income portable, all of my belongings portable, and becoming more comfortable being a nomad. After Todd and I took a random trip to Japan I realized that there are probably MANY places in the world that I'd like as much as, if not more than, the U.S.
I got back from Boston on the 28th of December, giving me 10 days in Austin before Todd and I leave on the world trip.
Every day counts now.
I've been spending TONS of time with my friends. I've been slaughtering my backlog of important but not urgent todo items. I'm not wasting a minute. I'm hugging people. I'm making sure that I put aside time for everyone and everything I want to do.
Ok, maybe not ever, but probably for a year or so. As you know I'm leaving for my world trip a week from today, so this will be the last Tazeroke I'm a part of for a while.
It will continue on with my friends Doug and Clint, but I won't be there to experience the majesty.
For those of you who don't know, Tazeroke is a thing I invented where people challenge each other to sing karaoke, and whoever sings their song worst gets tazed on stage. Somehow no one has shut us down.
I'm doing my new years post a few days early this year. I have a post coming out on the first and I want to give this one a few days at the top.
So first, let's get to last year's goals.
#1... Failed completely. I gained a lot of insight, though. A few things here...
I finally arrived at the Manchester, New Hampshire airport around nine at night. We fly in there because it takes less time to get to my grandparents house in a Boston suburb from Manchester than it does from the Boston airport. Traffic and all that.
We were supposed to get there at five, but there was so much snow in Manchester that we had to divert to Boston, wait for the snow to pass, and then return to Manchester.
I actually like the delay, though. I love everything about traveling, including being stuck on a plane doing nothing. There's something very pleasant about being totally isolated from the rest of the world.
I'd driven by dozens of times and never noticed it. Tucked away from the main parking lot, vines had begun to cover the corners of the building. Pieces of sheet metal were hanging from what once might have been a modern looking building.
A Wheel of Fortune aficionado may have been able to make sense of the remaining letters on the marquee. It probably said "Home Alone", "Kindergarten Cop", and "House Party" or some other movies from 1990.
That's when the movie theater was shut down. It was built on the edge of a hill, and half of it was now a few inches down that hill. The building had cracked apart and been condemned.
I have two weeks left in Austin and ten days in Boston. When we first decided to go on the trip six months ago it seemed like it would take forever. Now every day seems to fly by before I can make any progress on my list of stuff-I-must-do-before-I-go.
Of course, the one thing I've had no problem doing is buying the gear necessary to leave. I'll post a complete list of every single thing I'm bringing with me... some of which will probably surprise people.
We still haven't found anywhere to live in Panama yet. I send e-mails to people on Craigslist in Panama, but nothing good has surfaced yet.
So... we ate Miracle Berries.
I know that sounds like I'm either a druggie or a hippie, but I swear I'm not.
Miracle Berries are this crazy fruit from West Africa. They're bright red, have a large pit in them, and taste a bit like a weak grape. So why eat them? Because they have a protein in them called miraculin (seriously) that binds to the sour receptors on your tongue and makes sour things taste sweet for half an hour.
Last year on Thanksgiving I made a big list of everyone I knew and thanked them each for something. I was going to do this again, but almost all of them would be the same as last year.
Instead I'm going to talk about my parents a little bit, since they've surely had a bigger influence on me than anyone else.
A lot of the good habits I have today, which essentially define who I am, come directly from my parents. They managed to steer me away from TV, drugs, and alcohol in such a way that I never considered rebelling by indulging in these things.