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.

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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.

Monday, April 30, 2007

I think I broke my ankle

Adam and I were surveying my future aqueduct line yesterday and we were crossing a ravine. I went first and was scaling the other side up as he was working his way down. I turned as I heard a crash and saw him tumble a little, not bad just awkward. "You alright man?" "Yeah I'm fine, but I think I broke my ankle," he stated plainly. "What? You think you broke your ankle?" "Yeah but it doesn't hurt," he kept saying.

I went back to fetch our bags and we left for the hospital, 4 hours away. It's not broke, come to find out. Gives me an excuse to use a computer though.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Stole Joe's picture

Thirty-five of us were piled into this dug-out, massive canoe a few weeks ago for our regional meeting. Joe (Boston hat) took the picture and I stole it from his blog when I saw myself. Click on his name to see a more detailed account of the trip.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

¿Vale la pena?

Peace Corps Panama quarterly puts out a newsletter. My buddy Adam recently had me rolling with one of his columns, click here, then April - June 2007 under the pic, page 42. You can view older editions here.

The conference really went well. My guy got a lot out of it, even though he was completely overwhelmed at times. My patience got a work-out, as did many's, but it was worth it. An inspiring, amazing new friend of mine says, "Vale la pena," or "it's worth the embarrassment," and I'm glad my guy was willing to take the chance to attend.

I'm now on the way home hoping a package comes in tomorrow, and hoping I can finally design this aqueduct of mine. This part is always the hardest; going back home after a week with friends...

I can't begin to explain this emotional roller coaster - the burning behind the sternum, meeting eyes with a fellow volunteer and feeling their pain, joy, goals, loneliness, and their smile begging to break. The hardest become the softest, the weak become the strong. We are walking on top of a wall, and the slightest insult, compliment, song, dream, expression, or reaction sends us plunging to either side - for better or for worse. What do they see when they look into my eyes? ¿Vale la pena?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Remote controls and bathrooms

I'm on the way to another Peace Corps conference. I'm bringing Eduardo, a strapping 20 year-old workaholic so we can plan a composting latrine project for next year. He's so excited (and nervous) it's hilarious. In our hotel room I taught him how to use the remote control, and he asked me what the bathroom was. He said he stayed in a hotel once in Costa Rica but didn't watch tv because he didn't know how to turn it on (apparently it didn't have a bathroom?). We then went to a serve-yourself restaurant and he forgot to pay he was so nervous.

This past week I stole the mason from another volunteer's site to begin working again. I bought a dump truck load of sand straight from the river (don't ask about permits) and the whole community spent 4 straight days carrying it from the road to our site (half-way to the tank). It's about a 30min hike without 50lbs strapped to your forehead. On Tuesday I made 3 trips, broke for lunch, and made 3 more in the afternoon. Eduardo didn't eat lunch and made 12 trips in total. I had socks and boots, he didn't. He carries about twice as much as me and I weigh prolly twice as much as him. But that's his world, and now we are in mine...full of remote controls, restaurants, and conferences.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I saved my picture card!

Sorry to warn you pictures would be down for awhile. Gracias a Dios, I apparently bought the waterproof SD card...he he. Martha with her dog on the banks of the Rio Teribe.
Rio Teribe, the one that swallowed my camera.
Our finished toma, or springbox. (Springwater cavitation box)
Burning grass, outsite my back window.
Sunset shot from a resort on Isla Colon.
Setting up for a scene for Survior Panama (Columbian crew). The extremely white guy posing next to the "talent" is my buddy Aaron. There has been 12 or 13 Survivor series shot in Panama from a variety of countries.
Fishing off the dock.
Yours truly at Playa Bocas del Drago.
Julia's teaching Mary (follow the link for her version of the trip) how to make a chakara (or krä, in Ngäbere.) Basically it's a man-purse, and yes, I have one...two, in fact.
Of course, you can also make bigger chakaras, strap it around your forehead, and use it to carry goods. This is how we carried 13 sacks of cement and 6 yards of sand and gravel to the spring.