Suprise – I’m an expat again. Christine and I have moved to Panama for the next ten months as she takes on a short-term contract as a teaching coordinator and aid to UDELAS university in Panama City. Right now, at almost 2am in the morning, we’re at our AirBnB that we’ll be staying at for the next couple of weeks as we search for housing.

Originally we were going to fly from Milwaukee, to Houston, to Panama City (or PC as I’ll call it a lot of the time) but Hurricane Harvey has put an end to that for the time being. Instead, United changed our flight to a Newark, NJ (without asking, ha) the day before our flight. Same as our trip to Tanzania this past January, we checked out Newark airport’s priority pass lounge, the “Art and Lounge” which was apparently partnered with El Al, Israel’s airline – or at least that’s what it seemed like, judging by the fact that 50% of the patrons were wearing yarmulkes and there were massive signs all over various parts of the food areas with “KOSHER AREA” and “NOT KOSHER FOOD!!”

The flight from Newark to PC was about 5 hours long, sadly without any sort of free media options. We had hoped they’d have those sweet Android tablets like a lot of international flights have, but I guess Central America doesn’t warrant that kind of infrastructure investment – yet!

In the airport, there was almost a problem when the immigration officers refused to accept our AirBnB address, even when we showed them the exact location on Google Maps (thankfully, cached on our internet-less phones ahead of time). Apparently it didn’t fit into their database system and finally, they just gave up, muttered something, and waved us through after taking our fingerprints. A friendly aid from UDELAS, Julio, was waiting for us on the other side of the gate and a short 30 minute car ride later, we were at the AirBnB.

Our hostess, Cary, seems awesome. She’s younger than we are and already has opened an ice cream business in PC and is expanding out to Bocas del Toro on the far west side of the country. She just really loves ice cream – has a tattoo of a cone with an artfully styled scoop in it on her arm! She’s invited us to come stay with her at a just-starting-out SCUBA resort her friend owns for free, in exchange for our reviews and feedback. So far so good!

Also, she has a huge, adorable 3 year old pit bull named Oreo who loves attention. This may have (read: definitely did) played a role in Christine’s choosing Cary’s place.

Tomorrow, it’s time to hunt down SIM cards for our phones and get some health insurance for me. And a yellow fever shot!