For Christmas and New Years last year, my family and I went to Panama. My father, 49, is Panamanian and Costa Rican himself. He lived in Panama until he was 17, when he came to America to go to college. My mother, 47, and my brother 21, also came on the trip. As a person my father is a calm and reserve person. At social events my mother is usually the life of the party and the one who does all of the talking. My father is the- stand, smile, and hold the drinks type of person. However, this all changed instantaneously when we landed in Panama. My father came to life. He was home.
We left our house at about 6:30 on Christmas morning. While my mother, brother, and I were a bit on the groggy side, my father was as chipper as can be. The flight was a long but painless one. When we were in the airport my father officially took the lead. He was the only one who could effectively read the signs and communicate with customs. I myself started to feel a bit out of place. One reason was because I was still in long jeans and a sweatshirt in 90 degree weather. Once more is that we were somewhat ambushed by my father’s family greeting us loudly and happily and in Spanish. My dad on the other hand was completely in his comfort zone.
The hotel we stayed at was a mixture of a casino and amusement parks. My first thought when we walked in was, “Ok, a little over the top but not tacky” Once we got settled in, I remembered why we were even in Panama in the first place. It was my father’s high school reunion. There was a very detailed and planned out itinerary for us. Every night there was a big dinner and during the day we went sightseeing. My favorite events were going to where my dad used to live and going to the Canal Zone. Unfortunately where my dad lived his whole childhood, is now a parking lot. This was disappointing for my dad and his sisters to see, but funny at the same time. My dad showed us where they use to go swimming, what trees they would play under, and the places they weren’t allowed to play but play at anyway. He told us stories of getting hurt and daring each other to do crazy things they knew they shouldn’t do. He then followed up those stories with those of how much he got in trouble.
I learned about the Panama Canal in school. Every time it came up, I made it a point to tell the class that my father grew up right by it. There is a museum around the canal. The best part was when we actually got watch a small cargo boat go through the canal. The concept itself is very simple but actually watching it was amazing. My mother was in awe and wanted to watch it many times through.
This trip to Panama was an amazing experience. From the food, to the shopping, to the wonderful weather, and the crazy driving, it is something I will never forget. I loved every part of it but the part I valued the most was seeing the joy a pure delight in my father. For months thereafter and even now sometimes, he’ll ask me what my favorite part of the trip was. Even though I have answered this question many times, I answer again, saying the food—and seeing you so happy.
The Hotel Lobby
The Panama Canal
Daddy telling me a story on the beach
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.