So much to catch up on as usual! I've had my bestest buddy from the states come visit. We had a blast although it was too short of a trip. I've gone back home and got my malieante on shooting with my fam and boyfriend. I went with my brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew to Busch Gardens and had one heck of a time! Sadly, I did not have a camera at that time so there are no pictures of how adorable they are. More recently, I've been traveling a lot this month. I spent some time in Pedasi, helping my NIDA friends establish a recycling program there. I think this thing will get easier as we go. I got to meet the famous Pucha, a surfer who came to learn about the project. I went to Isla Canas again (that place is like crack to me apparently) to help with a self esteem charla at the school fair. I'm not sure I'm the most qualified person for a self esteem talk because I'm not sure about... anything really... but it was still a great event and I hope I contributed something. I made some time for fun travel as well when I went to Guarare to enjoy the Mejorana festival, the prettiest party Panama has to offer. It's a celebration of the patron saint and a time to indulge in all thing tipico. It's supposedly illegal to play any music that isn't tipico in the town center during the festival. My friend Dave got himself a pair of cutarras and I even picked up my very own Panama hat finally! I also saw off two of my good buddies from the previous group who have finished their service. I'm sad to see them go but glad to have met them here. Good luck Azuer-bros!
In site, I've been working my tail off, trying to compensate for the fact that I have been out of site so much. I held a recycling competition in town. It was a blast but one team missed the point and just started grabbing bags of trash from people's houses. I admire their will to win, but trash isn't the same as recycling so we ended up sifting through a calf deep pile of filth for about two extra hours. We took the recycling to the plant but it was also kind of a disaster because the plastic machine is broken so they didn't want to take our plastics... which was pretty much 2/3 of the trash. I also apparently misunderstood the definition of "carton" so we had to eat that too. Que va? In the end, we're raising consciousness and even though I'm fairly certain this project will collapse the day I leave, at least the town has heard the word "recycling".
In brighter news, the computer thing is off to a much better start. We're starting fund raising as I write this and have almost finished our proposal. We still lack a treasurer but I'm sure someone will step up. I'm going to propose that we sell snacks during Dia de Campesino so I might get to be one of those meat on a stick ladies I love so much! I'm starting to feel like my time is winding down so I'm getting a little panicky about getting things done. I feel like I'm just starting to act like a real volunteer but it's almost time to go... sort of. When people ask me about if I'll request a follow up volunteer, I've talked a lot of smack about my site not really wanting or needing one but things have changed. All of a sudden there is a lot of work to do and finally people are involving me in it. At this point, I'll probably want to request a follow up just to finish the stuff I won't get to.
The other day, guides from the Isla Canas turtle cooperative came over to talk in the school. It was fun to have such energetic and enthusiastic people around and they loved my site. They did a really great job but I got nervous when the talk went from teaching the kids about a turtle's life journey to talking with this one teacher about the failure of my town's cooperative. She just got unbelievably defensive... or maybe it's just her way of talking. Anyway, I really just wanted to get the thing back on track with the kids but it took about twenty minutes. Then a weird thing happened today that might have been fallout from the class. I don't want to be paranoid, but a grandmother here that usually is super nice to me (she made me sleep in her house when I was sick with one of my vomit-inducing migraines) saw me coming down the street and didn't say hi. I say hi and ask how she's doing and just shakes her finger no at me. I'm just not sure what that meant. It's possible that she didn't want neighbors to know she was passing by for some reason or that she was sick and didn't want me to be so loud and enthusiastic in my greeting. She is a dyed in the wool turtle egg hunter though and I'm afraid that she was offended that I offered her son a class that essentially said that it was wrong. She's pretty quick to get brava with people so I wouldn't be surprised. I don't blame her or look down on the family for poaching eggs. This family in particular has almost no options in terms of making money and so they do what they can. They also just like going out and seeing turtles at night. I think they may not see the connecting between selling eggs and seeing turtles though. Anyway... In a weird coincidence of timing, the turtle coop here is restarting and invited me to a meeting the day after the talk in the school. I hope it goes well.
"Classes" are going ok but I really shouldn't call them classes. When they are in the mood, kids ask "Hey when are you teaching classes?" and I almost always respond, "Come by in the afternoon" and we go from there. The thing is, I've learned there is no point in planning a class when the kids only come when they feel like it anyway. I've gotten better about putting something together in about five minutes and I usually just try to reinforce what they are learning in school so it's not so bad. My little buddy Maria has been a solid rock star though. She shows up everyday I'm home and she is amazing. She's eight years old and can form simple English sentances. Today we were working on "to be" using emotion vocabulary. I ask "Are you happy?" she goes, "Yes, I am happy". "Are you sad?". "No, I am not sad." WHAT??!! How does she do that!? She's a pretty amazing kid. She's super into animals and the other day a cat ate one of her birds. She said it was bad that animals eat other animals. I tried to explain that it's just how nature is and she said that nature is bad... deep yo. I'll leave you all to ponder that until next time.