Before I even left the States my dad started talking about a Christmas visit to Panama, and spending hours discussing our trip over the phone was one of the main boosts that got me through those first few months. Finally, exactly six months since I left home, my dad arrived in Panama!
We had heard that flying in through Costa Rica and then taking the 6 hour bus to Bocas del Toro would be a better and cheaper option than flying into Panama City and taking the 10 hour overnight bus. While the flight itself was cheaper, I think it's safe to say he'll be spending the extra $150-$200 to fly directly into Bocas in the future. When you consider a multiple nights in a hotel due to late flights, early busses, and over seven hours waiting in line to pay a $7 tourist tax, the Costa Rican entry added several hundred dollars to his trip and took away 3 nights and 4 days he could have been here.
Regardless, he finally arrived, safe and sound, and after picking him up in town we headed straight to my village. Even though I didn't need anyone to convince me what a cool place I live in, seeing Panama, and especially my day-to-day life, through my dad's eyes has given me a whole new appreciation for all of the things and people that make up my new village and home country.
In the first few days we mainly relaxed and enjoyed each other's company, but we also visited a few of my neighbors, one of whom sold my dad this intricate hand-made hammock for only $20. He was pretty excited.
After spending a few days adjusting to village life (and realizing that when I say not to use to much shower water, I mean it), my dad and I left my little house and empty water tank and headed to the mountains of Boquete for Christmas. To be honest, I'm not sure who was more excited about a few days of hot showers and internet, but my money's on myself. What can I say? Sometimes you just need to feel clean and check Facebook in bed.