Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas in the Tropics.....

There's something to be said about Christmas in winter with the warm glow of a fireplace, pretty snowflakes falling outside, sleigh rides and the smell of cookies baking in the oven.  Here in the tropics very close to the equator Christmas actually comes at the beginning of summer. It's wonderful to be able to go outside in shorts and swim in the warm bath like waters of the ocean. No snow to shovel, no need for parka's and boots and no scraping ice off the windshield. 

However, living in a hot, humid climate without air-conditioning brings up other issues I've never had to deal with before. Christmas chocolates can't be put out in the pretty candy dishes because they'll melt.  I took out a stick of butter to soften when getting ready to make the carrot cake and it practically liquefied sitting on the counter.  The carrot cake had to hide in the fridge until we were ready to eat it for the same reason.  And tropical living is not without it's share of bugs.  Since we do see the occasional ants in our house we had to watch over the food like a buzzard looking for roadkill. 

So I've come to believe it's probably a good thing that Christmas happens in winter.  Holiday baking is a welcomed way to warm up the house.  A cozy fire is nice to gather around while sipping on eggnog.  The smell of apples and cinnamon cooking is a favorite of mine and I love to make homemade applesauce for the smell and the enjoyment of eating it. 

But for those of you feeling sorry for me now keep a few things in mind.  I can sit on the beach or by the pool tomorrow and bask in the sunshine.  Or perhaps lie in a cozy hammock with a tropical drink in my hand being gently rocked to sleep by the balmy breeze.  We can wear shorts and swim year round and don't have to heat the house.  And the best part is that we pay less than $30 for our electric bill each month.

Our Christmas Eve get together was nice with a bunch of new friends sharing stories.  We also learned that the Panamanians display their Christmas trees outside of their homes as a way to show off that they can afford a tree.  And in a culture where minimum wage is $1.55 an hour, those that can afford a tree for $25-$45 should be proud to display it to the world.

Our potluck dinner was a cultural mix starting with little sandwiches, green Chile chicken enchiladas, drunken beans, carrot cake, fruit cake and chocolates.  A few margaritas and rum and cokes helped the food slide down and make everyone happy.

Right on schedule at the stroke of "medianoche" or midnight the pounding of fireworks began. We stepped outside just in time as the sky exploded into a medley of colors and explosive sounds that lasted for about 30 minutes.  The neighbors shot off some from the road as others could be seen in the distance.

Once back inside the uproar of "fuegos artificiales" or fireworks diminished as the night went on.  The conversation continued until one of our friends fell asleep between 1 and 2am, and we decided to call it a night.  Clyde and I cleaned up a bit and made it to bed by 3am but still woke up around 8am as the sunshine coaxed us out of bed. 

Yesterday for Christmas day we enjoyed a leisurely brunch of last night's leftovers while watching a Christmas movie.  Now just having a lazy day at home, recovering from a late night of over-indulgence and staying up too late. Nothing too strenuous for us today, in fact we may end up back to bed for a Christmas nap.  As the day heated up we headed to the pool to cool off.  We were the only one's there so we had the place to ourselves. 

After that we headed home to finish off the leftovers, then some friends came over for a visit. The evening ended on the couch watching a Christmas movie before we both fell asleep.  We headed to bed to catch up on sleep that the night before lacked. 

Today we're off for our morning workout at the gym followed by the usual dip in the pool to chat with whoever might be there to listen.  After that who knows where we'll go or what trouble we may get into today... along the gringo trail.



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