In Service Training was from February 9-13th in Rio Hato, Cocle, Panama. Rio Hato is roughly 10-11 hours of travel from where I live. This training consisted of more language sessions and technical sessions similar to what I went through for Pre Service Training (PST), what I did for the first 2.5 months in Panama. Another facet of IST consisted of being able to see and catch up with all the individuals that I arrived in Panama with. It was great to see everyone!
Following this training, I returned to my village to prepare for a week of language classes with other Bocas Del Toro PCVs and a language teacher from the Peace Corps. 4 other volunteers and the language instructor lived in my village for 5 days. We had daily language classes, and cooked delicious gringo food for my host family. The mornings consisted of language training in Ngobe-Bugle, and the afternoons consisted of training in Spanish. Check out the following pictures from the language class week!
Lulu deciding to climb around on my back while I was cooking.
Piper and I cooking Panamanian hojaldres (fried dough, kind of like small elephant ears).
On Sunday February 22, I received a phone call from my mother in the US informing me that my grandfather had passed away earlier that morning. I received the phone call shortly after my soccer game; we lost by the way. Anyways, after receiving the call, I had to back up a few clothing items and hike out of my site so I could get a bus to Changuinola in order to book a flight home to the US for the funeral. The following morning, I left Changuinola at 5:15 in the morning to make the long journey to Panama City. I traveled from Changuinola to David, took a pit stop in David for lunch and to use the internet a bit, then I traveled all the way to Panama City, arriving at 10:30 PM. I checked into a hotel so I could shower and get a few hours of sleep. I checked out of the hotel at 5:30AM and proceeded to grab a taxi to the airport for my 8:20 flight. After flying from Panama City to Miami, I then had an 8-hour layover in the Miami airport. I grabbed some lunch and coffee and found a nice floor spot next to an outlet so I could use my computer and the Internet to try and catch up on all the news in the US. Basically, I found out that the US economy is falling apart and the United States may not exist when I finish in the Peace Corps. My flight for O’Hare left at 8:15PM EST, and I was giving my mother a hug at the airport at about 10:45PM CST. Returning home for a funeral is not necessarily a happy homecoming, but it was nice because most of my family was in one location. Therefore, I had a much easier time getting to see everyone while I was home. To my grandfather, my you rest in peace. I will always carry with me the many great memories we have forged together. I will continue to celebrate your life with every breath of my own.
While I was home I did get to catch up with friends and family. I spent most of my time hanging out with my family. I did manage to sneak away for one day of snowboarding.
I also made a short trip down to my old college campus and to Indianapolis to visit old friends. I arrived back in Panama on Wednesday March 4.
Upon arriving back to Panama, I traveled to Santa Fe in the Province of the Darien. The Darien is the Province farthest east in Panama. It borders Columbia. The highway into the Darien actually stops at a dense forest before the Columbian border. There technically is no full constructed highway connecting Panama and Columbia. Anyways, since I flew into Panama and was all ready in the middle of the country, I decided to go visit some volunteers in the Darien and help out with a feria (fair). The feria was actually pretty neat. It was very similar to a fair in the US. There were a bunch of food vendors, small farm-like attractions, and fair rides.
Following the feria, I traveled to David and then to Changuinola in Bocas del Toro where I am now. I will be traveling back to site shortly. Supposedly while I was in the States, my community was going to finish my house. I have doubts that they have, but my fingers are crossed! I’ll post up some pictures soon of my completed house!
Aqui en la lucha,