This past week I had my first awesome malaria meds dream. It took place at my parent's house which makes it even weirder. 50 cent and the fat Columbian guy from Vice City were trying to get me to buy their kilos of cocaine. They start to fight over who would sell to me and when I said I wasn't buying they came after me. All of a sudden, I am at my best friend from childhood's house and 50 cent is coming after me with a hand grenade. He blows himself up trying to blow ME up. I wake up. I start chuckling to myself.
Now, there is a telenovela here that my family watches about a Columbian cartel and in my Spanish class we had a quick discussion about why it's really important not to confuse "coco" with "coca" so it makes sense why that was part of my dream but I have no idea where 50 cent came from.
I was able to spend a good chunk of time with my host family this past weekend. My fake mom taught me how to sew… I thought I knew how but I was doing it all wrong apparently. I ripped my pants on the hike in Bocas and I went to repair them but she saw what a terrible job I was doing and coached me through it. It's a good thing too because it wasn’t going to hold for very long the way I had it. My fake mom has been great about teaching me stuff. She seems to understand that I want to be able to do things for myself for the most part. She also led me through doing laundry with the semi-automatic machine. It's kind of rough on the clothes but she got stains out of my socks that the washer back home never could. It's pretty cool to learn this home ec type stuff that no one seems to think is important anymore in the US. On Sunday we made tamales to sell to fund Christmas celebrations. Preparations began the night before and early in the morning I went to the neighbors where a big work force was already going full blast and helped grind some maiz for a while. Mostly, I watched and hung out with my SAS (Sustainable Agriculture Systems) buddy who lives there. I was so excited to try one of the tamales and it was well worth the wait. They were so good! They were cooked in banana leaves and the masa was well seasoned with broth from the chicken and all sorts of spices. There were bits of bone-in chicken and peas inside. Yum.
After cooking I went with my fake mom and sister to my fake aunt's house. It was a really nice place with a balcony that had a nice view of this beautiful sloping green hill. We played bingo and I got taken for 2 dollars. Some advice: never challenge a Panamanian at bingo. They will win.
After participating in the national past time, we all got eaten alive by mosquitoes while waiting for the bus. My fake sister did a little dance to keep them away. I've even got some bites on my butt. It's pretty amazing. I also have a perfectly straight row of bites on my left foot. I'm assuming it was an OCD mosquito that got me there. On my right, I've got one on my little toe that is probably getting infected. There is a lot I really like about this country but I have to say that I am getting really tired of feeling like a feed bag for the bugs.
Also, I just saw a cockroach the size of a mouse. For real.
But the REALLY big news is that I now know where I´ll be!!!
It´s a SURF TOWN in the Azuero region (Panama´s heartland... where all the traditional craft stuff and cattle ranching goes down). This is where the biggest Carnaval parties are so plan your visit accordingly. It´s funny that Walt always jokes about how I´m going to spend two years on the beach and now I actually am! Not too many sites were by the water. I don´t want, and am not supposed to, say the site name on this public forum but if I know you, you´ll hear me talk more in specifics. For now, let is suffice that there is all kinds of fun ecological side projects for me to get into, protecting sea turtles, beach clean up, giving information on why deforestation is bad... maybe I´ll even plant a few trees on my own time. My main goals though are working with the tourism organization (I´m so glad they have one) and teaching English. The town is really interested in learning the business aspects of tourism so I plan to put a lot of energy there. They already have surfers come in and people checking out the nearby national park so it´s just a matter of getting the money to stay in the community. There is a foreign owned resort in town so that could be good or bad. The good is that they hire people from the community to do dances for the guests and the bad is that the community has to compete with that kind of capital. We´ll see how it all goes. The site is pretty ye ye (rich-snooty-preppy) I should have potable water and electricity. The only thing is that it´s an hour´s hike to get cell phone reception. I might try to do without but we´ll see. The public phone in town is broken so I´d be bien incommunicado. Anyway, you should expect to schedule your calls with me ahead of time :-P.
Miss you all back home!!!