Feeling Welcomed in Panama

Submitted by David Haynes on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Panama sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

The fourth and final week in this beautiful country was once again full of unforgettable experiences and wonderful people. On Thursday morning, the group took a trip to Cerro Ancón, which is the highest point in the city. From the top, you can see the canal, the modern city, and Casco Viejo. The views were incredible and the site holds cultural significance for the people of Panama. After the long hike, I took a bus to The Valley of Antón with two girls in the group. This small town turned out to be one of my favorite places in Panama. We did a long hike up a mountain and watched the sunset from the top. It offered us views of the whole valley, mountain ranges for as far as the eye could see, and even the Pacific Ocean, which was incredibly far away. I will never forget the feeling of being on the mountain and not worrying about anything else, but that moment.

Apart from the country’s natural beauty, I once again experienced the incredible generosity and hospitality of the people here. I took a bus to Santiago to meet my Panamanian friend. He and his family welcomed me into their home as if I were family and showed me how I want to treat others when I return home. We went to Santa Catalina, which has one of the most famous beaches in Panama which hosts international surfing tournaments every year. The water was spectacular, but my friends there were even better. We talked a lot and everyone treated me like family. I couldn’t helpm but feel really lucky for having met these incredible people. They gave me the best welcome to their country that I could ask for.

After the weekend trip, I took a long bus ride back to the city and prepared for my final exams. I am going to miss this beautiful country and it’s beautiful people so much. I miss my home back in Delaware, but I could also use some more time here. Next time, I know I have people here who offer their home for me to stay and treat me like family. And it is not a matter of if I will return, but of when.

The beach in Santa Catalina where, every year, surfers from all over the world come to compete in international tournaments.
Dancing on top of one of the mountains surrounding El Valle de Antón. Behind me, you can make out the Pacific Ocean.
The top of another mountain around El Valle de Antón where we watched the sunset