Panama, Five Decades Later

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting in the seat directly behind my Dad on the left side of the plane, the engines roaring so loud I could barely hear what he was saying to me. He was piloting a C-124 from El Salvador to Panama City. In my hand was a small paper bag. I often got sick while flying and on this day I was particularly nauseous.

It was 1959 or 60 and our family lived in San Salvador, the capital of the smallest country in Central America. My Dad was a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force, sent there to bolster diplomatic relations with our neighboring countries. Fidel Castro was in power in Cuba and his close ties with the Soviet Union worried American leaders. The Soviets had nuclear weapons. Cuba was geographically very close to the US…clearly a threat.

According to my childhood memories, my father and I went to Panama often. My hands and feet were raw with eczema so he took me there for cortisone shots. Because of the canal, Panama was the ‘big city’ and they had the biggest American base with good medical care and shopping.

Returning to Central America and reliving my childhood memories has always been high on my bucket list. That dream is finally coming true, over five decades later. To piece together my memories, I have sorted through old photos, yearbooks, and letters plus my mother has filled in a lot of the blanks. I’ve got so much to share!

My sister and I leave Wednesday and will spend ten days in three major regions of the country. I will post photos daily on Facebook.  If you’d like to follow along, click the LIKE button at the top of the Facebook page and sign up for email reminders.

So, yeah, I’m sprucing up my dancing shoes and embarking on another of my wild dances. Come on, go with me!


  • Jane K.
    Posted at 17:49h, 11 January

    I’ll be interested to hear if anything looks familiar. What fun!

  • Trudy Wilson
    Posted at 18:16h, 11 January

    Can’t wait to follow another great adventure through your eyes! Jealous! XO

  • Sally
    Posted at 21:14h, 11 January

    Oh, you’re always going somewhere interesting. Why don’t you come up to Toronto some time. After all, Rob Ford is here, and how much more interesting can you get??

    • lisaweldon
      Posted at 23:40h, 11 January

      You lead a much more interesting life than Rob Ford! I should come see YOU!

  • llhartley
    Posted at 00:01h, 12 January

    Sounds like a wonderful adventure and trip down memory lane! Can’t wait to read your commentary on the trip! Have fun!!

    • lisaweldon
      Posted at 18:02h, 12 January

      I miss you, Leila! Are you going on the Women’s Retreat?

  • Joanna
    Posted at 12:39h, 12 January

    Me! Me! Add me. I live vicariously through your adventures.

    • lisaweldon
      Posted at 18:02h, 12 January

      Come on!

  • Kay Lynn
    Posted at 15:30h, 12 January

    I love vacationing with my sisters and brother and think it would be good to return to one of our old duty stations (our dad was also in the Air Force). Have a great trip!

    • lisaweldon
      Posted at 18:02h, 12 January

      oh, wow! Where were y’all stationed?

      • Kay Lynn
        Posted at 20:17h, 12 January

        We were stationed at Hickam in Hawaii, McCord in Washington and recruiter duty in Kansas. The first nine years of my dad’s career was in the Navy so we were in San Diego a long time.

  • Debbie
    Posted at 23:30h, 12 January

    Be safe and have a blast. Can’t wait to follow you along your way!