Traveling is wonderful, one of my favorite activities.
There's a cycle that repeats during most travel experiences, the initial planning and investigation of the journey, the destination, activities, lodging, etc. Then there’s the build of anticipation, followed by the actual start of the journey, the arrival, the activities and immersion in the destination, the people, the food, the culture. And all along the way hopefully the traveler is making connections and memories in the heart and mind.
And at some point and for everyone it's different, comes the realization that the time and all the plans and activities are ending and you have to return home. I love every aspect of the travel cycle, all that is involved from beginning to end. And even with a very familiar destinations like Panama, there is always something new to experience; my favorite part, the delights not planned, not expected and the surprise of the traveler with the joy and discovery.
I know I was home this morning because a very attentive Corgi girl was at the side of the bed at 6:00am saying “Mommy, Mommy wake up, it is time to go outside and then breakfast”.
Morgan has a soft growl that she repeats over and over, she does not waiver from the mission until she sees that I get up. Once the early morning routine with Maddie and Morgan starts, they know the cadence and the order and for sure I know I am home; their breakfast is followed by making cappuccinos from which they enjoy a tiny bit of the milk foam, followed by them going back outside to play a bit before they settle in for their morning rest or naps. Maddie always rests at the top of the stairs, always wanting to be close, but far enough that she can guard me from the world at large. Right now she is exactly there resting. Morgan is downstairs by the door that leads to the patio.
The end of my travels yesterday bookended by two very different set of events. The passenger seated next to me on the Delta flight, a lady from Panama that lived in the States for many years. She was traveling to Atlanta to attend her grandson’s funeral, a young boy, he’d drowned in the families swimming pool a few days prior. I heard her share the story briefly when we were waiting at the gate. During the flight she shared that she was heartbroken, it was her youngest grandchild of 11, she told me she had cried for hours and hours and she knew she had to be strong her for daughter and son-in-law when she arrived in Atlanta. I told her I was very sorry and held her hand for a few moments. She spoke rapidly, sometimes in English, sometimes in Spanish, she had big round black eyes and a bright warm smile. I helped her with a few questions on her immigration form and told her what I knew about the new international terminal in Atlanta.
On the shuttle bus from the international terminal back to the domestic terminal so I could catch the MARTA train, I sat next to a lady, probably in her late 20’s. She was in a beautiful short wedding dress and had a veil on – looked like she had just come from her wedding. She was seated next to a man, I was not sure if that was her husband or a travel companion. At some point during the transit another person asked if she was going on honeymoon and indeed she was. The man next to her was her husband and they were headed to Venice, Italy to enjoy a 14 day Mediterranean cruise. She shared with the other person that she had never traveled outside of US and was excited for to visit Italy, Croatia, Greece and Turkey. I sat a few seats away listening and thinking of the lady on the Delta flight and how both of these moments in time are representative of the bigger cycle or journey we are all part of: LIFE.
For a few moments as the shuttle continued to makes it’s way towards the terminal, my heart flooded with emotions of appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity and time I had with my family, especially my niece JoAnn and nephews, Rogelio IV and Juan Carlos. The life long bonds formed in tiny moments, in conversations, in laughter, when sharing a meal or watching a World Cup match, the life investment for me is significant, part of my DNA.
Maria Elena and Roger’s home – like a home away from home, filled with love and all the activities and energy I remember when I was a child growing up in Panama. Certainly Panama now a country of almost 5 million people is not the same, but the love and the values and the history of all I know and remember is present in the daily lives of Roger, Maria Elena, JoAnn, Jaime, Juan Carlos and Rogelio IV. It was a wonderful visit and I am so thankful for their wonderful hospitality. I hope to visit Panama again towards the end of this year.