He’s the reason we are here. New job, new life.

Dean spent 38 days here without us in April and May. He wandered this part of the city on his own. I knew he missed us. We missed him. We had dinner by video chat 3-4 times a week.

I didn’t realize how truly on his own he was.

My husband is smart, hard working, kind and just any other word you would apply to a good man/husband/father.

But … he was born in Ohio. Having only been to Ohio once, I can’t make a call on the state. I can tell you it gave me a husband who eats plainly, who eats meat, mashed potatoes, corn and requires no additional flavorings. I knew he was in love when he willingly ate a caesar salad for dinner when we were dating.

While he is a regular caesar salad eater now, he’s not adventurous in the eating department. Give the man a plain burger, a plain hot dog or plain fries.

Central America does not eat that way. Want a hot dog? Want it plain? Ok, we make it very plain for you… only lettuce, tomato, relish, ketchup, and mayo. Hmmmpf.

Plain burger? Chefs have come out of kitchens to double check he really wants it that way.

We have quickly learned the words for lettuce, tomato, pickle, mayo, etc. Just so we can say no lettuce, no tomato, no pickle, etc.

Dean took us to one of his favorite places. He had found chicken fingers. Something he could order and they would show up with sauce on the side. He was so proud of himself. And then he ordered the “polo” fingers. “Polo” not “pollo”. Think it through my Spanish speakers, that double L and that Y sound that my husband didn’t know existed. My poor husband has been ordering “polo” for months. We might have changed his life by teaching him the double L sound in Spanish.

The boys delight in their father’s language awkwardness. Going to the movies, he learned the word for “theater.” When you order movie tickets here, you order by the theater number. “Sala nine,” Dean says. The poor clerk. Dean has the word for theater right, now we have to teach him to count in Spanish.

When it became real that we were headed to Panama, Dean started using Duolingo to start learning the language. He struggled and struggled and struggled. Duolingo finally booted him out of the app.

Dean’s company offers Spanish-language instruction. Dean was tested. They haven’t come back.

The nice part is that Panamanians are patient and kind. Entire restaurant staffs come out to help him order. Places that he went to regularly when we weren’t here have staff members who remember him and rush to help him get what he truly wants to eat. There’s plenty of laughter and cheers when gets it right.


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