Saturday, April 25, 2009

They said it was a roller-coaster ride

This will be the last day I have guaranteed internet access so I figured I'd just write about the last two days while I can. Yesterday, we had some lectures and got some shots. That took most of the day. I had a yellow fever injection and hepatitis. We then went to Albrook mall/bus terminal to pick up some last minute items and get acquainted with the bus station. Unfortunately, I got sick there (I think from the vaccine plus adjusting to the food and weather) and had to call the Peace Corps staff letting them know that I was feeling really rough. They were pretty amazing and hunted me down in the huge mall and ending up taking me home. I puked in the van but luckily I had a bag from buying shampoo so there was no nastiness on PC property. I did have time for a few quick observations. Panamanians do dress really will. They haven't been lying about that. Also, malls are pretty much the same wherever you go which is comforting I suppose.

So today I am feeling mostly better which is good because we had a site visit today. We went to an Embera community where a current volunteer is serving. The Embera are a Panamanian indegenous group that subsist mostly on tourism. This particular community was built two years ago after a falling out between the old community and these guys. We had to take a boat to get there. It was amazingly beautiful. There was a monkey and I GOT TO HOLD IT! What more could you ask for? The volunteer there told us what he does and let us ask questions. He told us that a good way to combat the lonliness is to throw ourselves into work. I'm going to take that advice to heart. He seemed really excited about his projects. We discussed strategies for getting tourists in and getting paid fairly for it. The Embera have essentially created a union so the won't get ripped off by tour companies making them compete against each other to the point that they LOSE money by taking in tourists. They fed us really well. Fish from the river, lentils, and rice. It was the best meal I've had here by far. It made for a good day and was a real morale booster too. It's comforting to start to see what is expected of me.

Tomorrow we're going to meet our host familys for the rest of training. No more a/c, no more internet, no more hot water. Time to kick it Peace Corps style.

Our arrival.

Embera women weaving. I bought a woven pot from them.


This was truely a dream fullfilled although not quite as nice as holding my little niece :-P

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Got my pills against mosquito death*

I'm here in Panama safe. Everyone in the group made it with no issues that I know of. Hurray! Honestly, I'm not sure what to say so I'll just start by describing the day. We woke up at 2:00 am to catch our flight to Miami. It was the most turbulent flight I've been on so far but it turned out ok. I did get a little scared though. So fast forward several, several hours and we're in our site outside of Panama city by the canal. I haven't seen much yet but Panama City seems really neat. It looks like Miami mixed up with some Pirates of the Caribbean set pieces. The canal has some impressive boats in it but I haven't got a close up look. Today we had a brief meeting and the girls got blood tests to make sure we aren't preggers. We got our medical kits, malaria pills, mosquito nets, and water purifiers. Tommorow we learn all about why we need to use them.

The people I'm meeting seem really cool but I'm in such shock still that I haven't really gotten to know too many of them. It's going to take me a while to adjust and I know I need to just let that happen. I was just getting comfortable and really settling in to Baltimore so it makes the change just that much harder now that I don't know anyone and don't know my surroundings. I'm keeping a positive attitude and an open mind though. I think when we start training classes I'll get really gung-ho but for now I'm just a bit tired and overwhelmed. On the plus side, I haven't had too much time to think about that because the Peace Corps staff really has it together. They keep us moving. To tomorrow!

*I in no way endorse Alice in Chains.

This is what the old army base we're staying in looks like:

Monday, April 20, 2009

"Accentuate the positive"

I'm almost done packing! I feel like I've done a pretty good job of packing light, all things considered.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ahhh... 1st negative entry. Here we go.

The only thing worse than leaving your friends, family, and the love of your life for two years and change is having to do it while moving in the relentless rain. Better let up soon.