Friday, June 26, 2009

June 24, 2009-- Dance Monkey Dance…and if not at least sing for us.

Oh hey! I am alive and well. Still in Panama working for this government organization, Peace Corps. Yes, I am tall. Yes, I am white. Yes, I have blond hair and blue eyes. And yes, I do know how to speak Spanish.
I had my site visit this past week. It went well, I enjoy the people in my community and think I have the potential to do very well there. Lots of staring and talking about me instead of to me…until the conversationalists realized I knew Spanish. There were a plethora of awkward, ‘oh snap, she understands what we are saying’ moments shortly after this realization. Pretty hilarious in retrospect to tell the truth.
I am living on the boarder of Costa Rica in a community of about 500 people. The community is spread out along the beach and up a rather steep hill. Of course all three families that offered to host me my first three months live up the hill. Haha. I saw the house I will be living in on my own – cutest little house ever, on the beach!!! Very beautiful, super relaxing and on the edge of the community so it is much quieter than the rest of the community…
There are definitely going to be challenges but I am confident that I am the perfect person for this site. All in all my spirits are high and I am ready to start the next two years of service. Good thing too because our swear-in ceremony got pushed up 4 days. I suppose I was never meant to have a legitimate Peace Corps swear-in. One cool thing because of the changes – we get the Panamanian Vice President attending!
During my week at site I got to meet some interesting people in my community, to say the least. Everyone is outgoing and pretty freakin’ funny. Great personalities and a great view, what else can a girl ask for?! The teachers at the primary school made me sing the Star Spangled Banner for them, yeah, that’s right. They wanted me to dance initially and I diplomatically refrained from doing so. The singing could not be avoided seeing as I clearly know the Star Spangled Banner. It was hilarious for all of us.
I played Lo Sabes Todo with my host family for nearly 7 hours one day. It is the Panamanian version of Trivial Pursuit. (Yes, that is correct Colin Hunt, I played it and somehow managed NOT to freak out. Kari I expect you to share this with Colin, as I doubt highly that he will ever read this.) It was so much fun and an awesome help with new Spanish vocabulary. My training director is awesome and gave us an extra day off before having to be in our site in July. This means that I have my birthday free which I will be celebrating on the beach! I will be returning to my site on July 4th and was told that they are throwing me a welcome party on the 6th.
We are now back in Panama City getting ready for Swear In, to become Volunteers! A very exciting time, especially considering we have nice places to stay in with screens on the windows and internet!!! Panama is treating me well over all.

June 13 -- Maybe it’s the humidity…

Well, well, well attempt number 3 for this blog entry. I have typed up a few so far – all very funny, I might add. And all of them have been lost as my computer continues to have temper tantrums. Super Duper.
My patience is running low, like the snickers bar supply in the tienda thanks to me. I will attempt to fill you in on the last few weeks briefly.
Technical Week we went to a mountain community. It was only my Tourism and English Advising sector, we taught in the school one day and worked with an eco tourism group to improve their website and brochure. We also worked with the older students on a recycling project for the school. I stayed with 4 other trainees in a very interesting house; the older couple that owned the house were very into recycling and making art projects out of the things they recycle. The house is covered in dolls as well. And I am not talking cute, “remind you of childhood” kind of dolls. I am talking “bride of Chucky”, “welcome to the HOUSE OF A THOUSAND CORPSES” type dolls!!! OUT OF CONTROL! There were doll heads all over the yard, over the sink...I can’t really do the creepiness of this situation justice with written word. We also had to hike across a field of mud every night after it rained to get home. Needless to say we had to use a machete to get the mass amounts of mud caked to the bottom of our shoes off! At one point not one of us could physically pick their feet up while walking across the field…the mud was victorious.
Cultural week we were in the mountains on the Costa Rican boarder visiting an agriculture volunteer. We got to know some of the cultural norms for our region of the country and some that are common all over Panama. We killed a chicken and ate soon there after. As I was peeling carrots in a huge bowl a MASSIVE spider appeared. An apparently, incredibly dangerous spider, that thing was so big it could have been Maurade’s dog for all I know. It was HUGE. Absolutely freakin’ scary. I couldn’t move, I just huffed and pointed. The woman I was cooking with took her machete and hacked it into pieces. It was definitely a WELCOME TO PANAMA moment for me.
We went to a dairy farm and milked cows. Hmmm what else? We gave a talk in the school and the students preformed for us as well. I had the best host family ever. I miss them now, and definitely did not want to leave them. They were extremely sad to see me go as well. They were my language and everything Panamanian teachers and I was their Barbie doll. Haha. I laughed every minute I was with them.
Now all I am left with is a HORRID allergic reaction to the bug bites I got from that visit all over my legs and arms. Good thing I am not looking for a husband, right?! (Don’t worry Mommom, maybe someday I will settle down…maybe)
One highlight from the two weeks: the dance here is the Typico. The men during this dance shuffle their feet EXACTLY like my Poppop does when performing his famous “dancing feet”. It brought back awesome memories of Sunday night dinners at Poppop and Mommom’s house and made me chuckle to myself.
Tomorrow we meet our community member we will be traveling to our new communities with – all of us are nervous. It will be a fun conference and then we have a week in our new places! We get a chance to get to know the people and bring some of our things to leave for when we return in just a couple weeks. Training only consists of one more week once we return from our site visit. I can’t believe it is almost over! Second training in one year down, at least I feel pretty sure I will make it to Swear- In this time! Haha. (Better knock on wood real fast).
I will close with an apology: Sorry for the severe lack of pictures. Admittedly, I did not use my camera once during the past few weeks. I am not bringing it with me this coming week either. It is just too bulky. GET OVER IT. I will be living in my site for two years and will have plenty of time to share pictures then.
I love you all and miss you much.