Saturday, August 1, 2009

The ants go marching thousands by thousands in Panama!


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Have you ever looked at a line of ants working on something and wondered what their interactions are like? Like does ant #1992384 in the line think that ant #1948385 is super attractive and maybe he wants to ask her over to his anthill to watch a movie? Or maybe ant #13841274 sweats a lot when he works (like an American in Panama) and gets made fun of because the rest of the ants don’t sweat at all (like most Panamanians). Or maybe on is cross-eyed and has a difficult time figuring out how to obtain the leave that is obviously in front of him. Can you imagine if ants had social nets works like humans? Jessica, the ant has a clique with all her ant friends, they are the cool group. It is hard to associate with them because they are so exclusive. I am assuming they don’t because they accomplish and they all work together. And when you kill one, they all freak out.
I promise, I am not losing my mind or anything like that, I just have more time to focus on things like ants now. Or maybe it is just because there are so many freakin’ insects here!
*Definitely saw the biggest cockroach in the history of humanity on my floor last night. Awesome. It was like the size of a small dog, ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!! So I popped a sleep meds and passed out. Yep, sometimes it is better to not address the reality in front of your face!

I can’t believe it August already! My time is starting to pick up speed already, which frightens me a bit. There is plenty of work to be done and I have already started most of it. After talking to some of my friends in other communities, it appears that my ‘over-achiever’ mode has been turned on. It is nice to feel semi- busy, whatever that means here. Things are so relaxed it is hard to feel as though you are getting things done if compared to the way things run in the USA. I realize that I cannot compare my previous jobs to this…at all. The rate of progress here is relative and has to be put into perspective. I am teaching quite a bit and working in the school in small stints. Overall I really am starting to fit in here well. It is not so much a feeling of people laughing at me, more with me as I am trying to practice Spanish the way they speak it here. My meals consist of rice and pasta, together and some meat…all of which I eat with a spoon. Now you might be puzzled by this, trust me I was as well initially but it is quite simple – you shovel mass amounts of food in your mouth at once. Trust me it is not pretty and it leads to me eating much more than intended. Go figure, me eating too much at once. (Amanda get that smirk off your face, I try to breath between bites).
I am going to the director of the school’s house for her birthday this weekend. I am excited to get out and meet some new people. She is really great and I have enjoyed getting to know her. It is nice to have someone relatively in my age range to spend time with that is motivated and interested in similar things.
It has been raining a lot at night so they turn the electricity off without warning. So my host brother and I have dance parties in the dark with flashlights. I will leave you with that mental image for now! Until next time…

***the pictures above are of my 2 year old friends that wake me up every morning waiting to play. haha. They are hilarious. One is very tough, the other is a pansy...I am pretty sure you can figure out who is who. And the other picture is of the space where I teach English classes to my Tourism Group.

The Many Hats Time Wears…

It is nearly a week away from August. I cannot believe I have been in Panama for over three months already. To think I missed yet another summer in New Jersey or the experience of summertime in Telluride baffles me at this moment. It was a strange realization, as seasons here really do not exist. Sure, scientifically speaking there is the dry season and the rainy season. All I know is that it is hot and humid every single day. Some nights it rains and some days there is a slight breeze on and off. The Tide switches weekly here, or has managed to so far. I do not know anything about Tide patterns but am ready to learn.
The seemingly simple tasks are what I have been finding the most delight in, going for a walk. Never in my life has walking been so therapeutic! When I think about earlier school years or college there were so many things I took for granted. Alone time is a troubling juxtaposition at this point in my life, for example. The delight of finding a moment to yourself and at the very same time a, at times, frightening reality that you are completely alone everyday… and then you realize – You are not alone, you are on your own. I make my own schedule now. I am the boss of Gretchen Christine Shaub, strange isn’t it? I have people here and with more time friendships will take form like those I have had with people throughout my entire life, just in Spanish this time. Haha. That brings me back to my previous thought. Appreciating my ability to take a long walk alone on an empty beach, lined with palm trees and beautiful rocks. To sit in a palm tree and look out into oblivion to decompress. There is something to be said for having peace of mind and an appreciation for where you are.
There is drama in my community like any other place in the world we choose to live. Someone doesn’t like “so and so” and refuses to work with them, and so it begins. Public Relations 101, and trust me it is not fun. I love working with people and find great joy in analyzing personalities, making acquaintances and small talk. It is EXHAUSTING to do it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It has been a nice reality check for this Psychology Major, wanna-be counselor. I have not been here long and already am being push and pulled to either side of the community. Learning subtle alliances, friendships as well as dislikes. And all the while I am told to remain neutral, trust me I do my best.
My sense of humor is completely intact and I am in higher spirits than not. I find, as of late, that I have changed quite a bit more than expected. My goals for life after Peace Corps no longer matter. My heart is worn on my sleeve every day of my life here and I allow myself to experience things completely. I am much more levelheaded and rational as a person. Maybe this place has had a calming affect on me, casting me into a new place of maturity that comes with experience and patience or maybe I am just changing at the rate I would no matter what I could be doing at this point in my life. All I know for sure is that I am happy where I am. I mean, who wouldn’t? 