We brought a lot of stuff with us from Turlock to Panama. A lot of stuff that some people might think is silly, and honestly I thought I might regret the trouble I put myself through packing it. But, I don't regret any of it! I love creating a cozy and welcoming home environment for my family and others. The few beautiful little candle holders, pretty curtains, favorite pots and pans, glass jars, tea towels, good knives & other kitchen gadgets, beeswax candles, many, MANY books, aprons, French press, board games, kids' dress up clothes, dried herbs, and other things we decided to bring along right away - have made this place feel like home so much quicker than if we did not bring all of it.
Part of me wanted to be that woman who said, "ya we sold everything, packed up a few clothes, and moved on to a new country!" But that was definitely not the case with us. We showed up at the airport with 2 big suitcases, 9 big plastic totes, a surfboard, a bike bag, carseats, stroller, and like 7 carry ons. Part of my logic was also this, if I don't bring it, I'll have to buy it, and we'll be spending more money to do that...so might as well just pay to bring it now. I know everyone who moves grand distances does something different, this was what felt best for us.
As we have been settling in, and figuring out the best and most convenient dishes to cook, many of the ingredients we're using are the same as we used at home. Simple but important flavors like onions and garlic, carrots and celery. Dishes like fried eggs with tomatoes on homemade sourdough. Dinners of braised meat with tomato sauce served over a starch. Fried potatoes, ground beef patties, fruit smoothies, and fresh salads with lime juice, salt and oil. All of these meals make us feel like this is home, our food is comforting to us. Tying on my apron, turning on some music, lighting candles, chopping veggies and all the rest of the meal preparation brings me joy and gives me a sense of comfort and home-ness. (Don't get me wrong, not all the meals are calm and lovely, usually breakfast is a bit crazy with all the kids hungry from the night of fasting). But, sitting around the table, with our usual mealtime banter and kids making a mess - what more could I ask for to make this house a home?
The other day we made our favorite sourdough banana muffins, the older boys helped. The house smelled like bananas and cinnamon (and was so hot because the oven and the tropical humidity....) but it just made me for a second feel like all was just perfect in the world. And all is very good right now, but we are not in our own home, most of the stuff here belongs to and was curated for someone else's lifestyle and style; but we are making it our own.
It is just really beautiful to me how food can just bring such rhythm and normalcy to our life here so quickly. We make family meals a priority, we try and prepare meals together, the boys talk about what flavors they like, and I know these meals remind them of being at "our hold home" and bring them a feeling of safety and comfort.
I planted seeds in our little garden plot today. Some zucchini, beans, basil and flowers, cucumbers and carrots. I'm not sure how any of it will do- the soil was beautiful and dark, but so hot to the touch, and the heavy rains come through almost every afternoon. Whichever seeds germinate, and plants thrive, will really deserve it, and will be so nourishing to us! Getting the soil under my nails and preparing the beds for planting made me so happy. I can't go too long without my hands in the earth. Harvesting from our own garden, even the smallest bits, will make this place feel like our's for a bit.
A produce truck visits our neighbor's house every Monday, so this past Monday was our first morning purchasing from him. We got up with the sunrise, poured some coffee, got dressed and walked over to our neighbor's casa. We chatted without our neighbors, pet the dogs, the boys played, and then when the truck arrived, I got so excited! We picked out bananas, carrots, celery, cucumber, cilantro (actually called "culantro" but tastes and smells like cilantro), tomatoes, papaya, potatoes, and more, including some local varieties of veg I've never tried. It was all so beautiful and just got me even more excited to have some more variety in our diet and have some more fun in the kitchen.
We secured a fresh milk source from a local family that has a small dairy. We drop off jars, he fills them up and leaves them on his porch for us to pick up the next morning. In the course of 2 1/2 weeks, we've found out so much about this area and met so many great people, just by stopping and chatting, asking questions, and driving around exploring. This beautiful place feels like home more and more everyday.