I was digging through half started blog posts and stumbled upon this lil' gem. Enjoy!
Last April (I did say throwback...) I headed out to visit my friends Kramer and Nate in
the Darien. The Darien is the far
eastern province of Panama that borders Colombia. They live in an area called Sambu. They have two
indigenous groups in the area, the Wounaan and the Embera.
To get to their area it’s 6 hours on a bus from Panama City on
the sometimes gravel and pothole filled Interamerican highway. You know, the highway that runs from Alaska to the tip of
Argentina with its only gap in between Panama and Colombia. From there it’s another hour in a van, 4
hours in a boat, and then a half hour walk.
The boats go twice a week on an irregular schedule and high tides on the
Pacific side often make the ride more… exciting than it need be for the size of
Boat ride in. The boat out was uncovered and about half the size. Yikes!
We got painted with jagua. It comes from a seed on a tree and is only temporary.
Coolest swimming hole ever!
2 hour walk to Nate's community.
Nate and his host grandma.
AND Bunk Hammocks!
One of the best parts of Peace Corps is getting to travel to
visit friends’ communities. It was such a treat to be able to head out
there and learn how, yet another, group of Panamanians live.
Living out of a hiking backpack can be exhausting. Constantly packing and unpacking, searching for clean underwear or a hair tie that you know has to be in there somewhere, carrying the thing through hot, humid, crowded cities...
But it's also liberating. I can feel at home almost anywhere. With almost anyone. My long hours of waiting for buses to show up or arrive at their given destination, waiting for people to show up for a meeting, or simply for the rain to stop have given me super powers that allow me to be perfectly content even if I'm alone and not doing what I thought I wanted to because outside forces got in the way.
I went out for a run earlier this week and the neighbor girls already knew my name and hollered "Hello!" That may seem insignificant, but volunteers who have lived in the shadow of the gringa that came before understand my excitement when they knew my actual, uncommon in Panama, not that of the female volunteer who lived in this house right before me, name.
I'm all moved in to the new digs and excited about the work. My new job as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer will be as a Water Systems Circuit Rider for water systems built by past Peace Corps Volunteers with the support of the NGO Waterlines. I'll be visiting and evaluating these systems and then working with the communities to improve them over the next 5 months.
Speaking of homes... I took a trip back to my old community last weekend to visit. Just like I left it!
The cool kids are still cool.
Beach balls are still better than gold!
Well... I must admit, somethings have changed.
Some kids lost teeth! She didn't know the "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth" song so she'll probably have to wait until next year.
National elections are in May and one of the political parties came in to cut a road to connect to a neighboring town.
A new baby was born!
It's good to be back. I'm looking forward to what the upcoming months have in store!