Dear Mom and Dad,

Candybar.wmf (11802 bytes)I've been looking at some countries in Latin America and so far Panama is the best one. When you say hello, men shake hands and howl, women usually press cheeks. You don't have to be invited to someone's house. You are expected to visit without an invitation. Here in Panama, Dad, you have to shop early because the stores close at 6:00 PM.

The climate here is tropical. That means it is usually hot and humid. The temperature in Panama is about 73 to 81 F every day. You should bring lots of shorts and T-shirts. You should also bring an umbrella. The dry season here is very short. It only lasts from January to May. The rest of the year, it rains a lot.

Many people like to play baseball as their favorite sport. Other sports they like are basketball, soccer and boxing. People in Panama also like to watch horse racing and cockfights. A cockfight is when you put two chickens in a pen and they fight. Whichever chicken loses gets eaten by the winning chicken’s family. For fun, Panamanians also like to dance and listen to music. They like poetry, too.

The main religion in Panama is Roman Catholic. 85% of people practice this religion so it will not be hard for us to find a church to go to.

91% of the population can read and write. The language that they read and write is Spanish. But many Panamanians are bilingual and their second language is English so we should be okay. It would probably be a good idea to learn some Spanish though.

I think that we should move to Panama City so that it will be easier for you to find a job. Lots of people live in the city so they need firemen and pharmacists. Mom, it may be a little harder for you to find a job because most women stay at home and only the men work. But since we’ll be living in the city and not the country, it may be better.

If we lived in the country, we would only eat twice a day, but in the city we’ll be eating three meals a day. I hope you like rice because it is served with every meal. In Panama, the other main foods are corn and plantains, which are like bananas. Dad, you’ll be happy because fish is also a popular food. Many times fish is put into soup. We’ll also be eating vegetables with our meals and we can snack on fruits. Please bring me some candy!

If we want to leave the city and go to the beach, it shouldn’t be hard to do. The Pacific Ocean on the west and the Caribbean Sea on the east border Panama. It also has railroads, highways and waterways that we can use to get there.

I miss you a lot and I can’t wait to see you (and my candy)!

With love,

Maggie Halpin