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Thursday, May 20, 2010

1 month in - 4/20 - 5/20 ... am i panamanian yet?

It is very interesting how one loses his sense of time when immersed in a new situation. Things happen incredibly fast at first as he focuses on solving basic problems like where to eat, where to drink, his basic living budget etc. Then, once he has these things figured out, he falls into a routine that, if he is not careful to take time for himself for solitude and reflect, will consume him. Once adequate time has been made for the above, (and usually around the three week mark for me) upon reflection and out of want for something more, he turns his attention toward higher aspirations. He thinks of career, opportunities for advancement, civic engagement, women, family, pass times and genuine reciprocal friendship.

It is rare that I get any time alone at all during this training period. And when I do get it, I feel a bit guilty that I am not either sharing it with somebody or bettering my skills. But it is absolutely necessary for a sound mind, sound body, and sound spirit. When I hear stories about the obstacles that my host family has overcome to advance the3ir education it astounds me. Tamil Mohan worked his way through high school on a fishing boat in Guiana, getting up at 2:30 in the morning and studying by flashlight under the stairs below the bridge. My host mother’s mother tongue was neither English nor Spanish. Speaking Creole English with her adopted Bahamian mother at home and Nobi in the village (her indigenous tongue) she eventually became college educated and went on to become a Professora at the local school in Nuevo Emperador teaching 9th grade English. Sometimes I feel like I live at the UN.

I talked to my APCD, Francisco, on Monday about site placement. He said that he was thinking probably Cocle, which is not too far from Panama City. I went there last week for a site visit with David Wagner. It kind of reminded me of living in the Kentucky Blue Hills. Many of the Pueblo had children that had gone to work in Panama City and would come back on weekends. I am not sure how I feel about working in that environment. I anticipate that because many of the community have jobs, they are less willing to work toward community endeavors. Their focus is on private investment – not public. At least that has been my experience in the past. On the other hand, what we are actually capable of accomplishing could be much greater because of potential relationships with the power/financial center in Panama City.

Francisco told me not to count on the site placement because everything is still tentative. However, one does get curious.

During our language session yesterday that we held on our porch, the pet spider money, Pancha took a shit and then threw it into the house. The new boxer puppy, Brox, started lapping it up before we could get to the mess.

I had my second language interview yesterday with a woman I had never spoken to before. I think it went rather well. We took up the full half hour and there was little to no dead air. I’m looking foreword to hearing the breakdown and to hearing about what I need to work on specifically. I realized yesterday that my language skill has increased substantially since I set foot in country like 4 weeks ago. My English ability has become much more dyslexic and generalized.

It will have been a month since staging this week. Damn how time flies. And this is in reference to my first paragraph – its amazing how a period of time can seem like a lifetime and the blink of an eye in the same instant. In my daily discussions, I don’t talk about anything that I talked about 2 months ago every day. I don’t talk to anyone I knew more than a month ago. I don’t eat at the same places, wear the same things, care about the same things. Having had such little contact with anyone in the states, it’s really another life. It is easy to see that if you don’t keep your eye on the prize, it’s easy to forget your context. There is a girl here in the village who is an ex PCV. She was administratively separated after she became involved with an indigenous man in her community. Their involvement caused major cleavages. Now he is in jail and she is a private citizen living and working in Nuevo Emperador as an English Teacher awaiting his release.

I am thinking about buying a horse if my site ends up being in the mountains of Cocle. Even to pasear is incredibly demanding. Walking 200 feet down the road isn’t as easy when it includes 100 vertical feet. While horses are pretty expensive at around 300 dollars, I will definitely want an all terrain vehicle.

The woman that comes almost daily to clean and take care of the house is an indigenous woman from Chiriqui. I spoke with her at length for the first time today. She has seven children between the ages of 28 and 14 and is a single mother. Three are in school, three are working and one is married. She always wears the most beautiful indigenous vestidos - purple and deep green with what reminds me of a Greek Key like pattern around the collar, sleeves, and trim.

Is it weird that I have hit it off with my sister? She’s 27 and gorgeous – both in physical beauty and character. It’s awesome to hang out with her and it has really helped my Spanish ability a ton. She’s graduating University this year with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering/science. O – and she’s a Reiki Master. She is a healer. The family swears by her ability, especially her father who said that she cured him of a spinal injury that doctors said was inoperable and terminal. I saw her perform a ritual (I don’t really know what else to call it) the other day on our porch to a friend’s daughter that was sick. The whole process was incredibly intense. I have never seen somebody so focused… okay maybe Tiger Woods.

That is all for now. More to come shortly.


  1. 1) Sweet profile picture
    2) Seems like you're already leading quite the interesting life down there. It really does seem like you're not just in a job and worrying about deadlines and whatnot. It's like you're starting from scratch and building your life. To us outsiders it's really something else.
    3) Kept up on American news at all? In case you haven't been able to, Louisiana is screwed due to a massive oil spill and the Cards r ranked number 5 with a record of 26-19.
    4) Went out downtown the other night and our fair city has been invaded by the guido and guidette nation. Be afraid, be very afraid
    5) Glad you're lovin' life bro. Keep posting and stay safe

  2. of all the people you could pick you pick tiger woods? go figure! lol keep stayin in touch and havin fun and exploring life... and don't fall off your new horse :) miss ya!