< Six Hours Until Departure from the Only Life I've Ever Known


Less than six hours remain until I’ll be on a plane headed for Houston, Texas, and then on to Miami, Florida. The next day, I’ll be away to Panama.

It still doesn’t seem real.

By now, I’ve been able to accept that I’m going to Miami. Before, all I could do was try to think about the whole thing logically. Logically, I’ll need to pack. Logically, I’ll need to say goodbye. Logically, I need to be prepared for a complete change of lifestyles. Some of the thoughts that flirted through my mind before the logical part could stamp them out included annoyance that I had to pack when I had so many other things to do, because I was just going to have to unpack and put everything away again when I had packed to the teacher’s satisfaction. My subconscious thinks this is a school assignment; take that as you will.

The support has been wonderful, though. Over 60 people showed up at a dinner my family and I threw for neighbors and City High teachers, to wish me luck or congratulations or tell me that I’d come back fluent in Spanish. The photographer who won the National Geographic photo contest (a dear neighbor) insist on taking a family portrait, then brought me a print a ten minutes later so I’d have time to pack it, and brought his most wonderful family along. Some neighbors come by to say ‘bye. Another brought a small gold pin in the shape of a turtle that had belonged to her mother, so I would always carry my home on my back. It’s in my carry on right now. And my family–don’t even get me started on how supportive they’re being! One example: my brother offered to be my slave for the day, and actually followed through (evil sister to take him up on that offer).

It’s late now. I’ve got to be up by 3am (ahhhh ughhh whhyyyyy), or in three hours. So for now, I’ll say buenas noches.

See you next year, Tucson! Love you so, so much.


Update: One Last Day at Home, Two More in the U.S.

Tomorrow is my last day in Arizona.

(Well, to be clear, I’ll have about five and a half hours plus tomorrow before my plane leaves, but they don’t really count, because I’ll be too sleepy/stressed to do anything.)


Wednesday, Sep. 4th: 

Hang out with family, finish packing, hang out with friends, last minute panics, etc.

Thursday, Sep. 5th:

5:15am: flight to Miami, Florida. Arrive before 4pm in accordance with AFS requirements, go to the hotel (on my own! We’re suppose to take the shuttle from the airport to the Marriott. Without supervision. I don’t know why, but I just can’t get over this. We’re still children, remember? So what if most of us can drive?), check in, sleepover orientation.

Friday, Sep. 6th:

Fly to Panama! We leave around 12pm, get to Panama City around 1pm. We = the group of kids that are going to Panama. Very excited to meet them, even though we’ll only be together for a short time. From Panama City, we’ll fly or bus to our separate cities. I’ll probably be flying as my town, El Silencio (by Changuinola, Bocas del Toro district) is across the Canal. Then I guess my host mom picks me up? I’m sure it will all be fine. : P

Saturday, Sep. 7th:

My first full day in Panama! Absolutely no idea what I’m doing then. Learning Spanish the hard way, probably, as my host mom speaks no English. At all. “We’ll have problems,” she said when she found out I spoke little to no Spanish. In Spanish, of course. “We’ll have problems at first, but she’ll learn. I’m going to treat her as my own daughter.”

I think I like her already.

In other news, I just found out two hours ago that Pandora, one of my favorite websites of all time, does not actually service Panama, a scenario I never thought I’d  be faced with. Now I’m wondering what other organizations, websites, etc that I take for granted will not be available to me.

I suppose I should go pack.

Packing is hard, though. What to take? What to leave? Still not sure if I’m taking my computer or not.

As always, thanks for reading.