Sunday, October 14, 2012

3 Men and a Dugout Canoe

Ok, ok, two ladies and one man and a dugout canoe.  In August I headed out to Bocas del Toro to do an in-service training making hand pumps out of PVC pipe.  Beforehand, Sarah and I visited our friend Erik and the next morning we set out to arrive at said training.

We strapped on our PFDs and hit the waters in Erik’s strappy lil’ dugout canoe, or cayuco, for what would be a rumored 3 to 12 hour paddle from La Ensenada to Playa Verde.  People’s guess-tamating skills had quite the range…  We were unsuccessful in finding a third paddle so we settled for 2 and a half.  As it turns out that was actually pretty ok because those suckers are heavy and I’m a weenie.  Not your standard Feather Brand canoe paddles… 

For reference, on the map of Panama, the star is where I live, and the arrow is pointing at the Kusapin Peninsula where 3 people in my group, including Erik, live.  You enter through the province of Bocas del Toro, but it's technically part of the Comarca Ngobe-Bugle - the reservation of the largest indigenous group in Panama.

This is a zoomed in map of the Kusapin Peninsula.  We started at the star on the right, La Ensenada, and paddled to the star on the left, Playa Verde.

We filled up the boat with the PVC pipes to make the hand pumps and an ornament tire that we ripped off of a boat dock the night before.  Don’t worry, we weren’t stealing, we traded for a tire with a rim that a nice woman gifted us the day before.  A tire that I rolled down the streets of Chiriqui Grande a midst a sea of stares to a different boat dock.  All in the name of moving water?!

We sang for the first hour until we pretty much exhausted our set lists, which reminded me of canoe trips down the Flambeau River in Wisconsin with my friend Samantha.  We hit up boy bands, Christmas, patriotic, some things only Erik knew which showed his age, and Disney songs.  I sing a lot, but if you’ve ever actually listened to the words I sing, you’ll quickly recognize that I might know half of a chorus, at best, which makes going through the songs I know a quick process.  But thanks to Leah Wright, I, yes me, know all of the words to “Part of that World” from the Little Mermaid.   Boom done! 

Around the middle of hour 3 we had rounded the tip of the peninsula and stopped at a gorgeous beach for lunch and a quick swim.  Not in that order of course… you can get cramps and drown. 

Then it was straight on to Playa Verde where our welcoming crew of Sean and Evan pulled that heavy bleepin’ canoe up onto shore.  Thank goodness because I could barely lift my arms much less a boat!  

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave!

I just got back to Panama after a two week vacation to AMERICA!!  It was super amazing to see so many friends and family even though many of our encounters were quick.  :)

I was talking to a friend the other day and we were discussing how the Peace Corps has made us nationalists.  She said, “I used to be from California, but now I’m from the United States of America.”

I joined my Grandma for lunch at the nursing home where she’s currently vacationing.  Not as satisfying as making apple pies with her at home – they made us eat lunch with our dessert.  Don’t they know that when you’re that old you get to eat (and serve your granddaughter) whatever you want for lunch?!  Including but not limited to ice cream sundaes, chocolate chip cookies, and apple pie!  Get well soon, Grandma!

Stole leaves from trees in Minneapolis!

I married my best friend… to some guy she kinda likes!

I polkaed with Bucky the Badger!  I love you, Wisconsin!

My aunts helped with the pre-wedding celebrations!  It was not the bride’s family who was at the picnic last.  It was not the groom’s family who was at the picnic last.  No, it was the Drake’s who have the staying power to close down any party.

Made REAL chicken pot pies!  Mmm nom nom!

Fall, the best season, was in full swing.  The air was brisk and the trees, gorgeous! 

Even though America was great, it is nice to be back in Panama.  I love my community, especially my adorable neighbor girls, and my job is pretty spectacularly awesome!   :)

Life is good.  :)