Panamerican Proceeding

Lend me an ear and you will hear the rants and raves of this volunteer. "Nothing is stronger than the heart of a volunteer" says Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle (parden the pun), but perhaps no one is crazier either. Why do we care so much? Herein lies a glimpse of my Pan-American experience.

My Photo
Location: Bocas Del Toro, Panama Este, Panama

The proceeding 'Panamerican' is a Master's International Student and Peace Corps Volunteer. Disclaimer: Contents are the author's viewpoints only, (need to stress only), and many may have been written on particularly poor days.

Friday, September 29, 2006

¡Mas Photos!

I just got this pic from the school in Bolivia known as Buen Samaritano. On the left is the finished bathroom we constructed and on the right are kids during school. I know I shouldn´t pick favorites, but it´s totally the girl on the left with the white t-shirt and the two pink ponytails. See more pictures here or here. Thanks a ton Bailey and Kurt!

Joe is one scary mo-fo.
Swimming in the river and jumping off the tree.
Actually, we jumped off the tree and then swam in the river.
Colin thought is was very pretty there (it was totally National Geographic).

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Blogger, ayudame por favor!

Ok, so I created this blogger thingy with the great intentions that I would get to a computer, rant and rave for a while, and it would speed up the internet cafe process. Actually what happens, I get to a computer, answer all my emails and by the time I get to blogger I have nothing to say. I feel like I´m repeating. I´m in the city of Bocas del Toro right now which is super touristy. It´s our day off, and man, I needed it. We went to the village of Nutivi for the past week by first riding 7 hours in a bus, spending a night, waking up at 6am to catch another bus for 3 hours. Then we rented a dugout canoe and traveled up a river for 4 hours. Wooden canoe + 12 people + the luggage for 12 people + 2 guides + other passengers = a completely safe, common, easy, and relaxing mode of transportation. I shouldn´t say actually is very common.

So if you are sick heading to a place like Nutivi, the chances are that you won´t feel better until you leave. My birthday was spent sleeping on a wooden floor from 1pm til the next day in probably 100 degree tempurature trying to shake my fever. But it broke and the wooden floor didn´t, and everything worked out in the end. The ride back was better cuz we used the current, til we got to the ocean and met the storm. Being soaking wet dodging lighting strikes - also a very safe method of transportation. Calmaté mamá, estoy bien.

So I´ve decided to carry a blogger list for the next week. Eleven of us will be out building composting latrines between Almirante and Changuinola. Everytime I think, ¨Dude man, that´s going on the blog!¨ I´m gonna actually do it. ¡Espera y ve!

As a side note, the Bocas clan of hombres has officially started the first moustache contest. This is bringing back some horrible memories. Pictures will inevitably follow.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Our Training Group

Group 58

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My mailing address

This is a direct copy and paste from Joe's site.
It can take from ten days to well over a month for mail coming from Panama to the US, it is also probability similar reverse. Some advice if you’re interested in mailing me.

-Put post cards in envelopes or they may end up on the wall of a local post office.
-Number your letters you send me that way I'll know if one was misplaced.
-If you want to send me a package, please do not send anything of high value because there is no guarantee it will arrive.
-Packages should be sent in padded envelope because they are opened and taxed less.
For the next three months when I'm at training I can be reached at:

(by regular mail)
Your name
Cuerpo de Paz/Panamá
Apartado postal 0834-02788
Panamá, República de Panamá

(only for packages using a courier like FedEx, DHL, etc)
Peace Corps/Panamá American Embassy
Edif. 95, Ave. Vicente Bonilla
Ciudad del Saber, Clayton
Corregimiento de Ancón
Ciudad de Panamá
República de Panamá
Tel: 507.317.0038 Fax: 507.317.0809
Atentamente: Your Name

After I move into my site, I will provide a new address.

Site Announcement

Community: Quebrada Cacao

Project: Environmental Health

Province: Bocas del Toro

Nearest City: Changuinola

Description of site: Brandon, lace up your boots to hit the ground running! Quebrada Cacao is about a half hour walk from the highway through lush tropical forests and crossing a few small streams. On a small hill there are approximately 20 scattered traditional Ngobe homes. There is no public phone, however there is cell phone reception. There is a small two classroom school with 2 teachers spanning 1-6 grades with a total of 40 students. A nice house was built by the previous volunteer that will be available for rent for less than $20.00 a month.

Primary Work: I am going to put your construction management experience to work! The previous Volunteer designed and raised funds for a community aqueduct. The community does not know that the funding has arrived. You should begin by getting to know the design, looking for any expected problems, then forming work groups and finally breaking ground. You need to work with Joe in Valle Risco to find Jose Molina who is your area master mason. Reduce the size of the water tank as I noticed it is a little excessive and use those funds to hire Jose to build the toma and the tank. PCV Julie has all the project funds in her account and she will work with you to get the project done. PCV Marco Escobedo hopes you will keep in touch and will be happy to answer questions about the water system. Quebrada Cacao is also part of an area wide composting latrine request through FIS. Quebrada Cacao is set to receive 16 latrines. Seek out nearby PCV Adam Pivetta in Rio Oeste Arriba and he will bring you up to speed on when that might happen.

Secondary Work: There is a baseball team in Valle las Perlas that the previous volunteer participated in. The previous volunteer worked with the school teaching English and Environmental Education. The volunteer was also the P.E. coach and they are looking forward to you helping out with P.E. classes there. IPADEHM reports that they wish to renovate the school sometime during your service. There is a Panama Verde youth group formed that you could also work with.

My thoughts: Sweet! I had a sneaking suspicion that I would end up near this area since this is the area I went and visited. I told my APCD that I wanted to do construction instead of solicit funds, write grants, etc. I think that suits me and my personality better. I realize this strength is also my biggest weakness (besides Spanish and Ngabera) as I will be forced to sit on my hands a lot and take more a role of a consultant. I will actually be traveling out to this area next week to build latrines in a nearby community where Big Easy (the first nickname I ever gave somebody that actually Colin) is going. Ryu is nearby too, within an hour or two. Changuinola is the nearest city with internet cafes and Bocas del Toro the city is only about 2.5 hours away. It's a surfer/backpacky type hangout for tourists. I'm really excited to have Ryu, Big Easy, Joe, and Mo really nearby. Mo is on an island with dolphins, if that makes any sense.

It's really sad to see some of my great friends heading to the Darien where I will only be able to see them once, possibly more, times a year. In particular, Brian and Amanda are super sweet and will miss their senses of humor. I will miss seeing Victoria's smile everyday and her high fives and Roanel's side comments that crack me up everyday in class. Yamiymah sounds like she'll have a ton of work to keep her busy. She will be a great volunteer.

Ok, I'll be gone working in Bocas for the next two weeks. Congrats on your move Barry & Vicky, sounds like it was a lot of fun. Good luck in the new job. I'll be 25 when I talk to ya'll next.

-Chobrau (my Ngobe name someone gave me last week)

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Santa Clara´s finest keeping us safe. Don´t worry mom, they even have a jail in there. The library on the left just received a copy machine and my job was to traslate the instructions to Spanish. It was pretty funny; how do you say ¨P.C. Load Letter What the f%$@¨ in Spanish?
Victoria and I. She had to take the picture after Kevin screwed up ¨the rule of thirds.¨
Ye ol´ Ryu. Stacey, Kelly, and Kevin celebrating after another exciting day in La Chorrera.
A bucket latrine, actually quite nice. Just add a little sawdust when done. When the bucket fills up, empty it outside in the large compost pile. It´s better than the river.
My house. I live here with the family grandmother and great grandmother. It´s sad ´cuz I´ve never stayed up later then they have.

The ¨queen¨ escorted by Gabriel. We tried asking what the voting depends on (i.e. personality, essay, hotdog eating contest) but everyone just said she won because she´s ¨the best.¨
A little girl getting ready to dance at the coranation.
My mother Dora, Sara, and my other sister Daniela (6 yrs).
My 10 year-old sister Nicole.
My 2 year-old sister Sara. (Sorry, I forgot to rotate these, just tilt your head like this.)
My daily training classroom.
Skyline of the city the first night from the bus.
Panama Jack. The two stars represent the two oceans and I´m pretty sure the blocks and colors symbolize something else too.