Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I look at you all and see the love there that's sleeping

Life goes on here at the edge of the world. There has been a lot going on so I don't even know where to begin. I'm feeling kind of psychotic these days so I'll just throw things into a list.

1. I've been trying to think of a project I can do with the English teacher because she's pretty cool and I'd like to help. The problem is, she's got her stuff almost TOO together. She's fluent, uses materials pretty well... I mean... I'd like to talk with her about US teaching styles with her just so she could have a different point of view to work with but, we'll see. I'm moving slow so she doesn't think I'm trying to mandate or belittle her style or anything. She's offered to proofread my Spanish on Vida Sana, Pueblo Sano so that's something.

2. The recycling thing is progressing poco a poco. We were a little naive to think ANAM would be able to help much with transport with its limited resources and whatnot so I'm getting ready to see if we can organize community members to do it themselves. DIY is always the best option!

3. Just got back from another visit to my friend on a nearby island. Me and my counterpart went on a whim after she came to my town (also on a whim... think there is a pattern). We went to the beach here and basically just shot the breeze. When we went to the island we tried to see some turtles but they weren't laying. The beach was beautiful at night though! We painted some signs to direct tourists, worked on the Vida Sana, Pueblo Sano book, watched Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and hung out with kids and stuff. It was a really good time and on my way back I finally got to talk with my brother and his family! It had been forever and day.

4. Today they buried my neighbor's mom. She was in Panama with family to care for her because she was sick and they drove her all the way back to be buried here. There have been about four funerals since I've been here but this was first time I attended all parts; the viewing at the house, the mass, and the burial. Even though I never knew the woman who died I feel like it was important to show support for the family. It was also an interesting cultural experience. The rituals for grieving can vary but we all still miss our loved ones where they're gone. Pretty much the whole town was there and the woman was apparently was one of the first to settle here. You could see that a lot of people care about her.

5. The biggest news in town is another crazy narco-traffic story but it's not really clear to me what went down because I've heard the story like seven times and it keeps changing. It's better that I don't know anything anyway. This guy has a hotel way down the way and one of his workers got beat up either by police or drug dealers looking for stuff. He's ok but was in the hospital about a week. The family that owns the hotel is fed up with this town and leaving.

6. It looks like my 1st counterpart is excited about an idea to put computers in the Centro! It would be a great way to raise funds and also give the kids a place to do their work. Right now they have to do all their printing and such in a town 30 minutes a way and many of them are struggling to pay bus fare much less the fees they have to pay to use computers and print their homework. I think this could be a pretty successful venture judging by how many people are interested in it. I can see it being my 2nd year focus. It's going to be a lot of hard work but my boss gave me proposals from other volunteers who have set up computer centers so that takes a load off. Having a guide is so much easier than working blind. I gotta say, even though the office feels likes it's soooo far away, when you come to them needing something, they do their best to get it to you.

7. A friend of mine who works for a local NGO is getting married!!! CONGRATS!!!

8. Soon I'll be celebrating one year in Panama with most of my training group at a resort. After a year, it'll be interesting to see Panama through the eyes of a tourist. I'm super excited to catch up with friends. It's really interesting to see how we've all changed over the year. When I see my friends doing something that's "Panamanian" or "Ngobe" I just have to crack up. It should be good times.

9. GOING HOME SOON FOR A VISIT!!! Almost peeing myself in excitement.

10. My bestest buddy from home is coming to visit. My first visitor! I wish she had more time but I think there will be time to see a bit of Panama City, my site, and hopefully the island, if my buddy can host us. Almost peeing myself again... time to buy some new pants I guess.

11. I've been playing a lot of guitar lately and even though I'm freaking out my neighbors, it keeps me happy. I think I might have enough material to start a new project when my service is done. I've been playing so much that I GOT BLISTERS ON ME FINGERS again. Whoop whoop.

12. I've been feeling a little out of sorts these past couple months. There are times when I start to panic for very little reason or just beat myself up needlessly. I think it's that, as volunteers, at the end of the day we are our own bosses and some of us, like me, put way too much pressure on ourselves to have everything be successful and perfect immediately. I never really feel like I'm doing a good job. It even got to the point that on my trip to the island, I had this intermittent jealously of my friend there. I whined to myself about how she is more involved in the community, has more going on, actually works in the school etc. It kills me that I couldn't just be happy for a friend instead of making it about me. There is always a bright side though, and I learned something very important when I came back. As I was waiting for my bus, I happened to run into the other volunteer in our district. I immediately became aware of how stressed I looked because he told me. My hands and eyes were moving every-which way and it was hard to concentrate on what he was saying. We parted ways and I made my way home. On a day like this normally I would kind of hide in my house but I didn't have the keys. I went to hang out with my first host family until their son, who has a spare key, got home. Then I noticed something magic happen. As I hung out with the kids and listened to the older folks update the narco-traffic story for the seventh time, I stopped fidgeting. I could breathe easier and could concentrate on the world around me. By getting out into the world and actually being a human being, everything became ok. I think the main reason I've been so stressed is because I'm just too darn selfish and self-involved. I think I was trying to be some kind of self-serving hero which made me close myself off when really the largest part of my job is just to watch, listen y meterme con la gente. So now I have a new personal development goal of caring more about people, being more social, and stopped getting locked in my own head. Peace Corps just might make me a better person yet!