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Friday, July 23, 2010

From quiet homes and first beginning, out to the undiscovered...

From quiet homes and first beginning, out to the undiscovered ends,There's nothing worth the wear of winning, but laughter and the love of friends.

Post dated from July 19th, 2010

Okay cool, so I followed up on the horse thing and I’m going to be meeting Tika on Wednesday morning to go over the basics – so that’s good. We sat on his porch for about an hour or more last night just talking and getting to know each other and the family. They seem to be pretty good people. In the mean time it feels so good not to really have to do anything today. The Barbas went to go bake bread at the oven up the street and I am just hanging out in the house… glorious.

I spent the day following Claudio around, never really sure what we were doing. I’m pretty sure that he just comes in on the weekends to see his friends. We built a roof for his cousin over the oven where the women bake bread. So that was most of the afternoon.

I met with Claudio and the Environmental group on Saturday to discuss what can be done to make the project a success. It is pretty obvious at this point that they have no idea really what they are doing. In fact, Claudio went as far as to say that he thinks the vivero has failed. He is probably right. I asked him where the trees would be planted, and he had no idea. Its like ANAM simply said, “you should build and maintain a vivero,” thinking that reforestation was the obvious outcome. Right now its just a bunch of wasted energy. But I think that with a little bit of project management and leadership training, Claudio will be a really good leader. It was very interesting that a majority of the people that were there at the meeting were kin. I have noticed that about my site. Your local power base and social circle is more your extended family than it is your friends outside of that family. So we have another meeting next weekend to discuss our the mission of the organization and to set some value statements, goals, and strategies. So I really should prepare my charla for them next week. But not yet.

I went to the house of LLeovi… or something like that I can never pronounce his name… on Saturday. In addition to the excellent grub, he showed me his sugar cane press and the process that he uses to manufacture miel de cana (sugarcane honey), a carmalized sugar that is a hell of a value added product from primary production. Well done. Excellent jump sir. He also showed me both the organic fertilizer and chemical fertilizer that he uses on the sugar cane and on the rest of his crops. He said that next year he in going to switch to using the ash from the sugarcane honey manufacturing to fertilize his cane instead of chemical fertilizer. He said that the soil is phosphorous deficient and that ANAM has said that ash is rich in phosphorous. “It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than $30 per bag!” he said laughing. He is going to show me how he makes that honey on Wednesday.

In the mean time, last Thursday, I went to a meeting up at the elementary school to introduce myself to the PTA (the Padres de Familia). The representante made an appearance, and I gave the following forty second speech:

Buenos Dias Damas y Cavalleros,

Me gustaria empezar por extenderles a Uds. un gran agradacimiento para recibirme en su comunidad. Ya yo me siento a hogar con este simpatico pueblo. Para ellos que todavia no he tenido la oportunidad de encontrar ni conocer, soy un miembro del Cuerpo de Paz, un Agencia del Gobierno de Los Estados Unidos que busca para edificar relaciones entre el pueblo Estado Unidense y pueblos extranjeros por trabajo comunitario.

En Panama, yo trabajo junto con la ANAM y MEDUCA en el sector Conservacion Ambiental Communitario. Yo estare enfocado en este campo porque por haciendo inversions ambos en educacion y gestion ambiental, podemos vincularnos al beneficios de la economia global mientras apocamos nuestro exposision al incertidumbre ambiental, el fuente de nuestro bienestar. Yo se que hay mucho interes en ensenando engles. No es mi primer responsabilidad, pero si tenemos exito con la educacion ambiental, se aparece que va a ser possible.

Yo vivire aqui en esquiguita los proximos dos anos. Tengo pericia en el manejo de Ecosistemas, proyectos communitarios y accion comunitaria. Espero poder compartir conicimientos con Uds mientras trabajamos juntos hacia una manana mejor y mas sostenible. Estoy aqui para apollarles a Uds. A sus ordenes.

It seemed to go over pretty well. They received me with a bit of applause and told me that I should feel welcome. They said that they would be more than willing to work with me in environmental education but it was rather obvious that they really wanted to focus on teaching English. So it will definitely be a process. Poco a poco.

After the meeting, I went to Chitre and met up with John and Jessico, John Payne and our Regional Leader, Dylan. After introductions, we walked to MIDA and took a bus to ANAM to make introductions. While at ANAM, I picked up the environmental guides to use in the schools. We met briefly with the director of both organizations and they seemed very accommodating, just like almost every other Panamanian I’ve ever met.

After that, we went out for dinner and drinks, went to a pool hall briefly to hang out, and pretty much got hammered before going to the casino and playing blackjack until 4:30 in the morning while ordering free drinks from the bar. And oh yeah, there was a brief foray into the club that was next door that was selling dollar drinks with a three dollar cover. It had somewhat of a 17 year old’s birthday/ pretty good frat party feel to it. Pretty funny.

After going back to the hotel and knocking on the door for 15 minutes, the guy at the front desk took pity on me and let me in to my room where three others had already passed out. The next day, after getting about four and a half hours of sleep, I had a wicked hangover that I nursed through bad/really freaking good chow-mien and gatorade. By brief stop into the internet café was somewhat less than productive. I got an email off to Jen asking about the possibility of a tour of the embassy when my school here goes on a field trip to Panama City in August. I didn’t get to finish or print out any of my letters of introduction because the café that we were using didn’t have any printer. And then it was time to return to site.

P.S. It’s becoming obvious to me that community work is really based more on friendship and leadership than anything else.

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