Showing posts from September, 2012

A Day in the Life

(September 18, 2012 to be exact)

4ish AM- I wake up with a start, and I am not happy about it. I was having a really good dream about being in the US. It takes me a minute to realize where I am. Oh yea, my bed in my site. In Panama. Then, why did I wake up? It's only 4AM, going back to sleep. Oh. That's why. There's droplets of water falling off the roof above me right into the middle of my face. Awesome. I move my head 6" to the left, roll over, and go back to sleep. At least when it is raining it is cool enough to curl up in my blanket!

6AM- My 3-year old brother Feli throws his morning temper tantrum. Ugh. I lay in bed, refusing to acknowledge that I am now awake.

6:45AM- Sunlight is starting to make my room hot and stuffy. And I have to pee. I admit defeat and get up. I throw on yesterday's peruma, grab TP, and head to the latrine, mumbling a half-hearted, slightly incoherent blend of Spanish and Embera greeting to my host mom. After saying it, I re…

Short Stories from the Selva (Selva means jungle in Spanish)

Story #1 - Conversations with a 4-Year Old
(Written September 6, 2012)

Diorleni: Amber, what are you doing?
Amber: Sewing my new peruma.
D: Where did you get the scissors?
A: The United States.
D: Why do you have 2?
A: Because one is big and the other is little.
D: You have 2 shirts on too. Why?
A: Because the top shirt comes  down too low in the front.
D: (Grabs the top of Amber's shirts and pulls down) Are you wearing a bra?
A: (Retrieving her shirt from D's control) Yes.
D: Can I see your boobs?
A: No.
D: Why?
A: Because I don't want to share them right now.
D: How come you don't love anyone here?
A: ...Uh, What?
D: You sleep alone.
A: I have a boyfriend in the US.
D: Where?
A: In Nebraska.
D: Oh. I have a boyfriend too.
A: Really? Who?
D: He lives there. (points with her lips)
A: How old is he?
D: How old is your boyfriend?
A: Uhhh, 25.
D: Ha! Mine is 43. I have 2 boyfriends. How many do you have?
A: Just one.
D: Just one?
A: Just one. How old are you, Diorleni?


A cow ate my underwear off of the clothesline.
My bug bite started growing.
There's a ______ on my _________.
My pillow molded.
I got stuck in the mud up to my knees and my neighbor had to come pull me out.
I fell in the latrine and was shouting for help for 6 hours before someone found me.
My bus broke down on the side of the road in the jungle at night. FARC stopped and helped us jump the battery.
There's a 250 lb pig in my canoe.
I took a shower in the rain. Halfway through shampooing, the rain stopped.
I can't build my house this week because the moon isn't right.
I can't teach English at the school this week because it is possessed and needs to be exorcised.
I can't remember if I took my malaria pills this week or not.
I have a double infected foot fungus.
I ate an endangered animal, and it was the best tasting thing I'd had in weeks.
I don't know what I am eating.
I DO know what I am eating.
I missed my pee cup.
My boat ran out of gas halfway upriver to the port.

Futbol...Tribal Style

The following is the running commentary I had going throughout my 2 week tenure as Captain of the soccer team:

Day 1- I am informed of my new title.

I hate running. Ok, not true. I enjoy running with my best friend in an air conditioned gym with an unlimited amount of clean, cold water whilst watching NCIS knowing that I have a hot shower coming. But out in the sun, in 95 degree heat with ridiculous humidity, a ridiculous amount of biting insects, with a limited amount of water at "room" temperature? Ew. No thank you, I'll take the hammock. And yet, my community decided without me that I am the Team Captain of our all female soccer team. Damn it. My job as a Volunteer at this point is to integrate and get to know the community, to build relationships and friendships. What better way to do that than by playing soccer, right? Ugh. You are so right. And this is the "first" time they have ever organized a women's team, so that is huge for gender deve…

Many Different (Panama) Hats

My community calls me an iguana because my skin color changes so dramatically- from the bright whiteness of my wrist under my watch to my almost Panamanian brown shoulders to my tomato red face when I am hot or sunburned. And it is more true than they realize.

I am a stage manager and a set designer. Turns out when you explain that to my community that makes you an architect. To my friends with actual architectural degrees, I apologize. I have given  up trying to explain otherwise. So I am la arcitecta. I am working on the same project as the previous Volunteer, who is an engineer, so that must mean I am an ingeniera as well. I am also a maestra de ingles (English teacher) whenever any one of my 254 students feels like it. I am an assistant band director at times, talking about rhythm, dynamics, and technique.

A few weeks back my neighbor had a seizure. The town medic, basically Panama's version of a Registered Nurse, asked me what to do. I asked, is she laying down on…

So Many Stories, So Little Time

Hey everyone! I am finishing up what has been an awesome mental health weekend for me in Panama City- Seeing a Husker Game on TV, seeing The Dark Knight Rises, skyping and/or phone calling so many friends and family, and eating a lot of American food. Or at least food that is not rice, plaintains, or boiled bananas!

Tomorrow it is back out to site and an attempt to make the Panamanian mail system send things for me. Fingers crossed!

This past month has been lots of things, and while I hate writing these narrative, summary posts rather than telling stories, I am afraid that my to do list is still a little longer than I would like and the number of hours I have left with the internet is drastically dwindling. So, to highlight the many pages of journaling that have happened since last we left our hero:

One day I found this quote in my address book that made my Monday morning totally awesome:

'You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer s…