January felt like an entire year was lived in one month and it all started with a secret…
Two months earlier, I got word that I’d be flown back to California for work. Unlike the first time around when I unexpectedly picked up and headed back to Cali, this time my husband and kids wanted in on the action. We’ve diligently saved enough money to travel anywhere in the world for a year and just like that anywhere in the world meant home.
The best part of knowing I’d be coming home was the thought of surprising my mother. Her voice had softened over the last few months. She was clearly missing her daughter, yet she seemed uplifted by my recent October visit. Coming home with the kids would surely delight and lift her spirits even higher. So operation ‘Surprise Our Mommas’ was underway, but first we had to partake in a very Happy New Year in beautiful Panama.
We rang in the new year in Panama City, Panama and while the city vibe was a wonderful change of pace from countryside bliss in Costa Rica, the trip was also a slam-packed two weeks, complete with the type of duality and contrast only travel can bring.
We began our Panama visit on the bustling Pacific Ocean side and naturally ventured over to tour the Panama Canal. It’s a fascinating wonder of ingenuity everyone should witness at least once in their lives. Panama has a lush colonial history beautifully preserved in Casco Viejo combined with the most developed city life just across the bay. Like Nicaragua, not enough tourists flock to the gem that is Panama.
If city life isn’t your thing, then do what we did and escape to the Caribbean ocean where remote virgin beaches await. Laid out among small fishermen villages are beach communities such as Maria Chiquita and Bala Beach. These are lesser known, quiet, off the beaten path beach towns. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in these small towns and their proximity to Portobelo, Panama. Portobelo is overflowing with pirate-like motifs, reminiscent of Panama’s history protecting itself from foreign sea invasions.
Truly, there is something for every traveler’s preference in Panama. Our two weeks were well spent traversing it’s beautiful landscape. You can drive from the Pacific to Atlantic side in less time than ships traverse the actual Canal, about 90 minuets to be exact. Quick tip: if you ever get a chance to visit Panama skip the town of Colon. It’s popular on many cruise itineraries, but there isn’t much of a scene to explore for more than a couple of short hours.
Once our two weeks in Panama came to a close, we were giddy and home bound. Only a handful of family members knew we were on our way. After traveling for 12-hours we were suddenly face to face with California and ready to surprise our mommas at our favorite pizza joint. I’ll never forget the look on my mom’s overjoyed face and the hug she gave me.
With that tearfully fulfilling reunion out of the way, we moved on to living a slam-packed two weeks at home. We squeezed it all in…. birthday celebrations, anniversary staycations, weekend trips with friends, playdates for our children, shopping sprees, one-on-one time with family, and a pretty busy work schedule. It was only the best two weeks full of non-stop commitments, celebrations, and connection. Somehow we pulled off a full itinerary of to-dos, which reminded me life’s meant to be lived. The best surprise of January was probably realizing just how much anyone can do in 30 or 31 days every month.
Oprah Winfrey says it best when she asks God to, “USE her all up.’’ She wants to leave this earth completely depleted having lived such a full life of service. I am no Oprah, but January reminded me how much any one human being can accomplish in a month’s time. We often say we don’t have time; yet, we have all the time we need. Don’t give up on time. Get out there and live yourself what feels like one year in one month, if you so choose. Then, get in the habit of doing that again and again because life is worth living every minute of every single day.