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?