Friday, September 11, 2009

Becoming One With Nature.

I have successfully killed 20 scorpions, 7 tarantulas and countless cockroaches and other creatures this past week living on my own. I saw a shark when I was swimming off the pier the other day, that was awesome. There was an earthquake a few nights ago, being true to who I am, I slept through it! Last night there was a crazy thunderstorm and the thunder alone woke me up three time, literally shaking my bed.
The best description I have of my life right now: I am a mix of Rambo, Tom Hanks in Cast Away and the super white English teacher from every generic movie of teaching in a poor community. I go buck wild on animals/critters in and outside of my house, with my beloved machete. And then I crack open a coconut and drink the milk from it on my hammock overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Oh, I also have lots of work I am doing, I promise.
I am teaching five days a week in two schools and have a separate class with the professors to improve their English skills. I am also working with the Tourism Committee on different business plans and budgeting for upcoming festivals.
The elementary school had a competition the other day between five other communities and we won!!! I cooked chicken and rice as well as potato salad for the kids and teachers. It was so much fun.
I have running water, most of the time. I have electricity, most of the time. I went on a walk through the jungle the other day and saw three different types of monkeys, they were adorable. I LOVE THEM. I also saw tons of humongous spiders. They looked so awesome, I couldn't even be scared due to their fascinating color schemes. Needless to say, I am learning to embrace the nature world around me. My fears are slowly subsiding...amazing what weaponry can do.
All that being said, I love my life here. I miss everyone from home. And my fantasy football team is sub-par as of this past week. Things BEST turn around.
The End.

P.S. Pictures of the elementary school, teachers and students. And the inside of my house on the beach. Yes, I live alone. My hammock, my machete and quick point of reference I lay in my hammock facing the beach. :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Pizza Hut. No matter where I go, I want pizza. I say Pizza Hut because I somehow crave greasy food when all I eat is greasy food. I would settle for any kind of NYC pizza, Trenton pizza…you know, the World’s finest.
If you are wondering how I am doing, I am very well. A few minor health issues here or there, normal stuff. And I would give my mental health an A+ at this point in my Panamanian adventure. I have made some pretty hilarious friendships in my community and as time passes I find myself a tad bit too comfortable here. Almost two months in and I am in love with these people, two years from now – I don’t want to know how hard it is going to be to leave.
Some significant changes:
1. I eat everything with my hands or a spoon. Forks and knives have evaporated from my hands.
2. My Spanish vocabulary is incredibly limited due to a lack of descriptive words in my community and seemingly all of Panama. Every type of shirt, for example, is coined “sweater”. (This has led to an increase in my English vocabulary because I am reading more than ever before so as to NOT describe all my belongings with one or two words.)
3. I am never in a rush anymore. EVER. And if I am honest with myself I have actually become tardy. “It’s the culture” hahaha. Way to set an example, right? Eh, I will just do what they do instead…way to go Gretch.
4. I swim with shorts and a tank top on because that is what Panamanians do.
5. I find myself going a whole day without drinking water and then I pay for it later. That is when I realize, I am not Panamanian and some “adjustments” can never be made. I need to drink water, unlike my community members.
6. I kill scorpions with my machete.
7. I cut my "lawn" with my machete.
8. I open the coconuts in my front yard with my machete.
9. I also kill chickens with my machete and eat them.
10. I have come to love my machete.
There are more but I will end it here. Over all I enjoy dancing randomly, making fun of myself and eating way too much fried food. The thunderstorms here are awesome so I am in Heaven – rain on a zinc roof is awesome. I have always wanted it and here it is. Some of the best gifts are rainy days; the perfect excuse for solitude and a good book in my hammock.
I have gone fishing a few times there are some crazy creatures in this part of the Pacific. And some of my fisherman friends are just as crazy! We do not use fishing poles - we use fishing line, hooks and our hands. I helped out with a Reinita competition, which was between towns in one district. The little girl, Genesis from my community won! It was awesome and because I am the white girl they asked me to crown her. It was cute. She will go on to compete to be queen of her province now. It is a big deal and awesome for our little pueblo. All the participants had to wear dresses they made out of paper - so creative and adorable.