MY LAST YEAR’S NOVEMBER’S SOLO TRIP TO PANAMA, WHERE I CELEBRATED THE UNITED STATES’ of AMERICA’S “THANKSGIVING” HOLIDAY
PS: I purposely have written and published this article several months prior to The Western World’s Fall Season and The United States’ of America as well as Canada’s Thanksgiving Holiday as I wish to also publish my 2019 Summer Season Travels!
CRUCIAL INTRODUCTION TO MY ARTICLE… :
…Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo..! ….Similar to The Christmas Holiday (as my sisters and I were raised in a Christian household) and to the Western New Year’s Holiday as I have spent MOST of my Young and Older Adult Life within the United States’ of America (my pre-teen and teenage years were spent with my family in Europe between two countries namely (France & Austria), I have always celebrated the United States’ of America’s “Thanksgiving Holiday.” Indeed, having furthermore spent the majority of my childhood and pre-teenage years between: Boston, in both English and French speaking Canada, in New York City, and in Europe and then attended both: my undergraduate and graduate universities within the northeastern region of the USA where one of my sisters joined me as a Pre-Med student in Graduate School in Pennsylvania, where I alone and then her as well when she joined me; we were always invited to our friends’ parents’ home as our family remained miles away from us in Europe and our mother had relocated to the African continent with our youngest sister as my sister and I, were international students. …After completion of both: my undergraduate and graduate universities and full summer vacations at my family home in France, while working very hard to earn and save some money, I respectively spent two full years living abroad in: Spain and in Costa-Rica as I wanted to become absolutely fluent in Spanish as I had minored in Spanish as an undergraduate English and International Literature major with a minor in Spanish and International Social Studies. This, I did and returned to my country of origin: The Democratic Republic of Congo (aka: DRC), to assist my Dear Beloved Mother, who had since founded the very FIRST National non-Consular semi-private/semi-public bilingual school in Kinshasa’s: the DRC’s capital city! After a few years working and living in my country of origin and due to its dangerous political crisis (as there was political tensions, which led to the ousting of the then twenty seven years president and dictator: President Desire Mobutu, my Dear Beloved presently deceased Mother, decided that it was BEST for me to return to the United States, where I first lived with my sister right here in New York City and where I have settled down and been living for the past decade as my sister re-established herself in New Jersey and presently, in Sunshiny Florida with her family. Throughout all of these years, I have still incessantly been invited to partake in “Thanksgiving” with my longtime friends and relatives or at my sister’s home since she had her two children…😊…! …For the past years however, some of my friends and I, (from various ethnic backgrounds and cultures) have been quite torn with regards to the origins of “Thanksgiving!” …This, as it was initially the Western European first established Pilgrims, who decided to have a feast, to “than” God for their arrival i this “newly found land” they called “America” as the longtime established Native Americans “of which many Nomadic” had cured and saved many of these “Foreigners” of a different complexion then themselves, who had landed via big ships… Well, I am really literally giving a SNAPSHOT of what really occurred centuries ago for time length reasons of this present blog article but you can go to the more objective historical accounts of this dramatic lengthy episode of World History… And by the way, Canadians also celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday a week or two prior to their United Sates’ American counterparts… Due to this Historical Huge Factor and as a Definite Activist (through my Writing, my Speaking Engagements as well as through my Public Facebook page mainly for now), my inner self has truly been torn into how I can cease to partake in a Holiday of which the original inhabitants and Natives of my longtime country of adoption do Not at all recognize as this very celebration, signifies: “Tragedy” and “Loss…?” I believe that I have food the answer and joined the thousands of other born United States’ North Americans (as unbeknownst to many, Canadians and Mexicans are North Americans too), who have “re-baptized” the original “Thanksgiving” Holiday to the “Family & Friendsgiving” Celebration Holiday which signifies: the Sharing, and Celebration of Family, Relatives and Friends… I am fully aware that some people who come across this article, might snicker and think to themselves that we might as well fully instead of halfway join with the Native Americans’ stance and NOT AT ALL, partake in any festivities or Holiday Sharing on this particular day but my response to this, is that it is not realistic for many of us as who live here as “Thanksgiving” is the USA’s MOST SHARED and CELEBRATED Holiday as it bears no: Political Affiliation underpinnings and DOES NOT entail a particular religion… And most of Corporate and non-Corporate United States’ of America, presently typically gives an extra day off (Friday) as Thanksgiving always falls on the last Thursday of the month, which means: an extended four day week-end, to have Quality Time to actually spend with our closest family members, close relatives and friends, of whom some might not have any other extended time off due to the nature of their respective professions..!
CONTEXT AND BODY of MY PRESENT ARTICLE:
I know that some of you who will read this article, MUST be scratching their heads and wondering how my last paragraph above is connected to my Panama Trip…? Well, here is the connection 😉…! For my first time EVER and since my sister was on call for the entire “Thanksgiving” Holiday and I kind of just wanted to have a relaxing Holiday and not “couch jump” from one of my close friends’ houses to the next this past year… Ironically, several months prior (I have always been and still am quite savvy in planning my personal Cultural trips in advance. This, in order to save on my flight tickets and sometimes as well, on my hotel stays… I furthermore as well have a Travel Bucket List comprised of my Absolute “MUST VISIT” countries throughout the five corners of the world before The Creator/Creatress calls me unto the world beyond…). I had therefore purchased a flight ticket in advance, to spend an entire week in Puerto-Rico. Please, withhold in mind that I had returned from my Dominican Republic trip (of which I have extensively written… Please, do feel free to browse through and/or read my various Dominican Republic Trip’s articles); exactly three days before Puerto Rico’s Tragic, Devastating Hurricane, which also affected other Caribbean islands such as: Antigua, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Barth and parts of the Dominican Republic.. My last two days while at the beach in Puerto Plata’s Playa’s Dorada in the Dominican Republic, the other Foreign Vacationers and I, most definitely felt the wind’s and wave’s powerful strengths quite aloof to its significance of Hurricane Irma’s pre-warning…😞…! …With a huge pinch in my heart, overtime the television showed the devastation that left not just in Nature but more so, in peoples’ hearts and souls throughout the Caribbean islands, it is needless to state here (or rather to type 😊) that I obviously had to change my November 2018 “Thanksgiving” Holiday Destination….! The question nonetheless for me was “to where…?” I hesitated a bit between returning to the Bahamas (as I had visited the island about five or six years ago and just looooooooooved it even as a Solo Traveler…. Traveling to Colombia for my very first time in South America but felt that the day I do travel to this vast South American country I would want to spend at least two full weeks, visiting Bogota (Colombia’s capital city) as well as some of its different regions…. Jamaica was another option for me… I however felt that I should visit this other English Caribbean island of my selection and choice with my partner and Love 🤗, since I visited the Bahamas alone… Having had quite a few Panamanian girlfriends at my undergraduate university and having the Panama Canal on my Bucket List, my choice became Crystal Clear to me and Panama would become my second visited Central American country. Central America furthermore is Dear to me alongside the United States of America: my second country of adoption, France: my first country of adoption and my continent of origin: Africa as I spent a full entire year in one of Central America’s world’s most Eco-Friendly countries: Costa-Rica in my young adult life after my year long Au-Pair year in Spain (my third one year country of adoption) just before living in Costa-Rica (my fourth country of adoption) as an Exchange Volunteer and which happens to be one of Panama’s bordering neighbour nations. Sidebar Note: I returned for two weeks to Costa Rica about seven years ago and brought along with me two of my Iowan close girlfriends, to share the Costa-Rican “Pura Vida”/”Pure Life” MOTTO experience… 🤗🤗🤗…! This article however is not about both of my Cultural experiences in Costa-Rica but very much about my Thanksgiving one week Trip to Panama… 😊!
“!…Bienvenida a Panama…!”/”Welcome to Panama…!”
My flight landed to Panama City from Miami International Airport, at around 9:00 pm on a Monday evening (is my memory does not fail me)! the other hundred of passengers and I, were supposed to arrive four to five hours earlier in the daytime (as I truly do not enjoy arriving in the evening) whenever and wherever /i travel… My Dear Beloved Deceased Mother. often had my sisters and I, arrive late in the evening when we traveled at first once and then twice a year on her home leave and on our respective Winter Holidays and on our Summer Season long vacations (mainly spent in our home country of origin: The Democratic Republic of Congo (the DRC)… (Like I have previously stated in other articles of mine on this blog and will eventually stop repeating myself, my mother was an Independent Civil Servant & United Nations’ Diplomat. She therefore was given bi-annual home leaves for her family and herself to travel back to the DRC. Many International organizations presently have a similar established program, in order for the employee to be more Productive as they return to work after having spent some well deserved and earned time with his/her family and relatives in her/his very country of origin… My mother later explained to my sisters and I, that this was extremely effective when we were little, as the only thing to do once we landed safely and soundly and arrived to our house, was to take our baths, eat and go to sleep in order to wake-up Fresh and Well rested…. 🤗…! It also enabled herself to rest before having to receive and visit our extended family, relatives and friends and furthermore yet, to herself have a clear mind for the next month and a half to two months with regards to having to deal ‘head on” with many of her family’s troubles, brought to her… It is CRUCIAL for me to state here that my Dear Mother was a HUGE Force and an EXTREMELY STRONG woman… 💕! When my sisters and I respectively were toddlers and infants, she would give us a little bit of cough syrup for us to NOT have those crying outbursts any adult frequent traveler dreads on the plane and in order for us to be 100% ready to sleep as soon as we arrived to our destination… ✈️! …Just a few years ago, I was quite surprised to realize that many parents actually do this worldwide, as an American television show host discussed on whether or not this could be considered as “drugging” a child. One of the guests (a mother of three children under the age of seven, blatantly told snapped back and told her that if anyone considers this to be “drugging”, they should first go to her own mother and grandmother as they respectively were the ones to pass this “little secret” down unto her siblings and her as cough syrup has been around for centuries… And that every single parent who has had to resort to this method, has lost certainly done a Great “Civil Dutiful Service” to all of the airline companies they were on. She then went on to make sure to give us an update with regards to her three children’s lives: the oldest (a boy) was in his second year of college as a pre-med student, her second one (a girl), was an Honor Roll high school student, aspiring to become a psychologist and her youngest son in middle school seemed to be geared to becoming a restaurant chef… As she stated to cook and bake mostly from scratch, as she was a stay at home mom since her daughter’s birth… Yet all in all, her point was to make it very clear that giving a little bit of cough syrup to her children as toddlers and infants, in no case preconditioned them to become alcoholics and/or drug addicts…! …And as my daughter is a young adult and has since relocated to France and as I do not plan to bear any other children (due to my extremely busy yet satisfying and fulfilling professional and cultural life), I have NOT have to worry for a very long time, about having to travel at night for the sake of traveling with a toddler or an infant….! …This however, is sometimes inevitable due to flight delays and professional engagement scheduling conflicts… As such was the case when I traveled to Panama last November, for the very first time…
My first impressions upon arrival at : Panama’s International Airport, was practically the same as when I landed at : Santo Domingo’s International Airport and at : Haiti’s International Airport. Before I proceed with my thought, one MUST understand that I grew up and have spent most of my adult life so far, in the western world, where my family and I were ALWAYS the minority as far as where race and color are concerned… And whether I am referring to a continent, country, neighborhood, school etc… Since my mother was an International Diplomat and we get up in socially privileged environments…. …Without the usual Entitlement that many kids from such environments sometimes display and demonstrate (“sometimes” as none of the girlfriends I grew up with and with whom many, I have since reconnected via cyberspace) but however who have a strong, firm sense of Humanism, Humanity and Selflessness…! Please Note that many of my sisters’ and my friends were and still VERY MUCH ARE International World Citizens… 😊! Henceforth, imagine my Great Satisfaction in landing in a country (aside from Subsaharan Africa from where I myself, originate); where as soon as I enter the airport, I am greeted by predominantly “brown” airport staff…! …Brown in complexion and colour tone… I am most certainly NOT trying to get political or to make anyone who stumbles upon and/or who reads this article in its entirety uncomfortable but if you are or have been in the position of finding yourself or know someone who has been/is in such a position, you know/he or she knows all TOO WELL that recognizable Discomfort and Uneasy internal feeling as one NEVER knows what to expect not only from the customs’ Control officers but from the taxi, private car and/or shuttle bus drivers once one passes through Customs and finds oneself absolutely ALONE (as is often my case as a ten year mostly Solo Traveler) or even when accompanied by one or two other people… I do not know about the rest, but this when my Defense Mechanisms are set on Automatic Full Gear Mode...! …As most unfortunately and like many, I have had a few mmmmmmmmm let us just type rather than say unwelcoming airport episodes in my life as Traveler… -Perhaps will I one day blog about one or two of them but back to my very first impressions of the overall Panamanian staff… I was extremely relieved like I started to previously state, at the fact that most of them were closer to my skin tone and colour… As like in the Dominican Republic, I immediately knew that I would NOT have to have my Automatic Defense Mechanism Mode on… I am truly sorry Everyone but “White Privilege” and furthermore “White Male Privilege” are very REAL notions not solely acknowledged by non-Caucasians and dark people like me but by many Caucasian people throughout the world as well.. Indeed, I have ad several discussions about this notion with some of my close Caucasian friends as well as with other people of the white race I encounter as a Professional Speaker and Presenter… And many of them, one hundred percent validate and recognize the veracity of this very notion above..! …As a Quadri-lingual Professional Presenter, Motivational Public Speaker, Humanitarian and Activist it is furthermore very important for me to explain here that until one does not recognize the real ailments of today’s global societies, we will NEVER be able as Humans to fully “cure” these ailments but will instead just apply bandages as we have always done, which in turn, will cause more pains and blisters as opposed to complete recoveries… The notion of “Privilege” as per my clear, succinct understanding means that a certain person or group of people is automatically placed above another or other groups due to the following factors: family background and education (as in my own case), socio-economic background, financial capital or name inheritance, self-imposed or established elevated status… In the context of Traveling and for me personally as a black woman, this notion of “Privilege” is heightened whenever I find myself at Customs alone in a predominantly Caucasian country and several states within the U.S. where my race, colour and tone complexion is sadly often tied to negative underlinings and connotations and where when passing Customs or when walking around in a country or state where I am part of the Minority because of my race and the unfortunate generalized preconceived already fabricated ideas that my race encompasses: illegal status, prostitution, poverty, loudness, arrogance, uneducated, unsophisticated, unruly, uncultured, untraveled etc… When in truth, many international female bloggers , non-bloggers, frequent travelers and non-travelers are entirely the OPPOSITE of ALL of the stereotypes above…. And people who ENCOUNTER us, are EXTREMELY SATISFIED, PLEASED and even SHOCKED (I have not made-up my mind quite yet on whether this is a good thing or not relative to people’s shock) that we by no means, conform to the overall narrow-minded stereotyped prejudiced upon notion of the black/brown race of which my ingrained making is part of and has as a matter of fact been since my very part and will be until the day I am called unto to world beyond by our Maker…!