So, I’m past my deadline of one update per month… but here’s what happened in the month of September (besides half of my friends having birthdays…. Jen, Veronica, Elizabeth, Henry, Paz, Chelsea, Rosie, Nick, Graycie, Andrea…. Phew!):
On the 1st my boyfriend, Peter, came to visit and we had a great time touring around Panama. We did my favorite things in the city: Casco Viejo, Cerro Ancon, Amador Causeway, and, of course the canal. We also hopped up to Bocas for a few days and spent time on a gorgeous, remote island splashing around in the crystal clear water surrounded by starfish. It was really beautiful. Finally, we made our way down to Pesé so that he could see where I live and what I do on a day-to-day basis. He got to meet my host family, some neighbors, and a couple of teachers. And when we went out dancing (bachata, merengue, and tipico, which he picked up quickly – I was impressed!) he got to see two men salomar, which was a hilarious cultural experience for him. He compared it to two roosters crowing back and forth at each other. Who knows, maybe that’s where it originally came from. Sadly, I saw him off at the airport on the 10th, then headed home the following day.
Here are some of the best photos from the trip:
|View headed into the mangrove canal on the way to the island|
|My view from our cabin, watching the sun come up and illuminate the mainland.|
|Beautiful clear water!|
|Picnic on the beach before snorkeling.|
|Lunch with the host family - Susi, Bruni and Roderik.|
|View of Pesé.|
|Canal - of course.|
I’ve gotten into the rhythm of school for the third trimester, and I’ve finally gotten to know the teacher who was new in the 2nd trimester. He also has finally discovered the reason I’m here and how I can help him, so that was satisfying. I’ve been helping with his 11th grade classes the last few days, helping them work on pronunciation for a presentation on Panama’s cultural groups.
Over the course of the next trimester, I also am hoping to introduce Ultimate to my community! I think the PE teachers are going to teach it in a few weeks, and I hope to start gaining interest for a club as well both through the PE classes as well as just having some days when I’m tossing a disc around. If it goes well, hopefully I’ll have a team by the mid-November!
Lastly, this past Friday we had our trimestral regional meetings in which all of the Azuero (Herrera and Los Santos) volunteers get together to hear announcements from office staff, share project updates, ask for or offer support on projects, and announce any opportunities that others may be interested in. This time around we also got to meet our new Country Director, Pete Larousse, which was good. We were sad to see Brian Riley go at the end of June – his shoes are definitely big to fill.
After Regional Meetings, we usually stick around for a night and hang out (partly due to the fact that many PCVs can’t get back to site after the meeting, partly just because we want to hang out with each other). This time we went out to Isla Iguana, an island off the coast of Pedasí down in Los Santos. It is GORGEOUS. The water was so clear and blue, there was some cool coral and fish, and the weather was perfect. We arrived around 4 – just in time to set up our tents and enjoy the last bit of sunshine while relaxing in the water. Around 10, I looked up and realized that the moon was rising, and it was full! It was so incredible – I don’t think I’ve ever been in a place with no lights before during a full moon. We had shadows that were clear as day – you could see each other perfectly, even without the light from the campfire. It was amazing. The next day, we swam some in the morning, and relaxed on the beach when the tide got too low to swim due to the coral.
|Somewhat grainy view of the beach at night - the line is the shadow of the trees on the sand from the moonlight.|
|Beautiful reflections during low tide.|
We got picked up around 11 and on the way back to the mainland, we went around the island looking for whales! It’s mating and birthing season for humpback whales and they always come to the warm waters near Panama around this time every year. After searching around for a few minutes, the boat driver finally said “Allí!” and cut the motor. We all looked to where he was pointing and, sure enough, a whale surfaced! He said it was a mother and her calf. They surfaced a couple of times, and we kept searching for them to come up again. Then, all of a sudden, they came up 15 feet from the boat!! It was amazing! They aren’t dangerous, so it was so neat seeing them up close. We couldn’t see that far into the water, but we could see the backs of both the mother and baby! So cool. Checked off the bucket list.
|Perfectly calm, blue water surrounding the island.|
|View of the beach where we camped.|
Back on the beach, we ate fried fish and patacones for lunch before finally heading out. I spent Saturday night with my friend, Rosie (who came to visit me when she was a trainee back in March) since her birthday was on Sunday.
After a nice weekend, I got back to Pesé, ready to hit the ground running for the week. I’ve been in the high school this week, helping to plan some activities with a few different teachers. I told them that this trimester, I want them to come to me if they need help. So far it’s been a little slow, so I may need to up my pressure a little bit. We’ll see how this coming week goes.
This weekend is the first birthday of my host sister's daughter. How it has been a year since she has been born, I don't know. But we're going to have a big blow-out party tomorrow afternoon. I'm sure I'll have enough material to write an entire post after that!
Happy Friday everyone!