My Destination is Panamá

(see more entries for this location)

If you're inspired by Panamá, you might also like to check out Panama, Costa Rica and Cancun.

The Kindness of Strangers

I woke up earlier than usual that morning. The dull, consistent pain was still there. I walked out of my island hut in San Blas, Panama and began to pace on the beach. Wisps clouded the sunrise, and although it was picturesque, it seemed colorless in comparison to previous mornings. I had hoped the pain was a feminine issue or better yet indigestion, but this was day four. I could no longer ignore that something was wrong.

A local friend I had met the night before saw me and asked, "Como estàs Jacqueline?" I shook my head, "Estoy un poco preocupada. Tengo un dolor aquí," I said motioning to my lower right abdomen. He returned my concern, "Oh, no. That's your appendix."

The moment he spoke the words, I knew he was right. Luckily, my friend and I were scheduled to take a boat and then a car through the jungle back to Panama City that morning and had already planned on going to the ER.

Through grace and with the help of some wonderful people along the way, I made it to the hospital in time. They were able to operate that night before my appendix ruptured.

Five hours after my appendectomy, a nurse entered my hospital room and called herself "Lady." My stomach was sore from the surgery, and I wasn't strong enough to leave my bed. I'd never felt so weak or vulnerable in my life. I could tell she had come to give me a bed bath, and all I could think of was my grandmothers and their hospital beds before they passed. I'm 29. I'm not supposed to be having bed baths.

My fears quickly subsided, as she began to bathe me. The care she took reminded me of being a young child and being bathed by my mother. Mom would talk to my sister and me in soft tones, and I always felt so comfortable and safe.

I looked at Lady and said, "Gracias por su..." I didn't know the word in Spanish for gentleness. I asked her how to say it, and I could tell she didn't know the word, but she understood my meaning and said, "Gracias por su atención." I repeated, thanking her.

Of all the reasons I love traveling, the one I am continually amazed by is the kindness of strangers. No matter what our spiritual beliefs are, there are times when we act as earth angels for one another. I'll never see Lady again, but her compassion and that of so many others in that hospital and in Panama helped someone far away from home feel connected, knowing that none of us are ever truly alone.

*Note to Travelers: Panama offers tourists up to $7,000 in medical expenses if anything happens while in country for the first 30 days. Also be sure to buy travel insurance!
That morning in San Blas Amazing friends! My wonder surgeon, Dr. Bailey
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Jacqueline Boone

Jacqueline Boone

Currently located in:
Atlanta, United States.
Twitter: @6monthstolive
About me in 140 characters or less

"Passionately curious explorer, writer, & world traveler who loves to connect with people on a global scale. Continuously inspired by life!"

A bit more about Jacqueline:

"I draw the line at eating... Nothing, I'll try anything once"

"My most essential travel phrase is... Are you local?"

"My most memorable souvenir is... Tear-stained bamboo. It only grows at Jiu Yi mountain, outside Ningyuan where I taught as a volunteer in rural Hunan province my first year in China. Legend says that Emperor Shin died there, and his concubines were so overcome with grief that their tears melded with the bamboo, leaving their immortal marks of sorrow. Each darkened part resembles a single teardrop. It was given to me as a goodbye gift when I left and every time I look at it, I feel the warmth of my students and friends."

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