Friday, July 2, 2010

Travels & Visitors: The story of our life from April on...

We've now caught you up on some of our activities and work through March, and if we had to sum up much of our time since then (in two words) we'd say: Travel and Visitors!

We've been on the road quite a bit lately - traveling for work purposes - working on revising materials for each of our "Community Economic Development" iniatives, seminars, charlas, etc.  and hosting lots and lots of visitors! 

The flood of visitors started in late April with my sister Sandra.  She brought "Christmas" with her - or in other words, she brought a lot of replacement stuff with her from what was lost in Ben's bag.  Even though we spent our own money replacing most of the items, it was still awesome to get so much new stuff at once - and even better to get a bag of Easter candy too!  Sandy spent 9 days in the country, and she was our first visitor to spend 2 nights in our community!  We had to brave a few significant bug attacks, but we had a great time and she got to experience an 18th birthday party, Comarca Ngobe-Bugle style!  Complete with arroz con pollo, a "chicha" made of fruit cocktail, a cake baked in my oven, and a pinata filled with candy and flour!   Not only did she brave our site for that long, but we all almost got stuck in the area because our chiva drivers went on strike on the day we tried to leave!  Good times! 

We also spent time in Cerro Punta, we hiked in the Parque Internacional La Amistad and saw a great waterfall - it was a steep hike and we all learned about "shaky legs syndrome" in the days to follow!  We had good spa time, and then headed to Boquete where we ziplined through the canopy!  We also spent some time at the beach.  It was a full trip, and made all the more exciting the last day when our David-Panama bus broke down TWICE.  The first time we had to wait an hour and a half for a replacement, the second time (with different bus) we lost the AC but continued on.  Because of the break-downs we barely got her checked in for her flight on time, but we made it!  Major kudos to Sandy for her patience with all the public transport (and it's issues)!

Sandy and I pose in Casco Viejo in Panama City.

Visitors = Good food!  We enjoy Mexican food in Panama City.

We even cook better foods for visitors!  Here I show how excited we are about "garlic bread."

And Sandy sure looks excited to eat it, or by how awesome our house is!

Lovely Las Lajas.  Ben is enjoying a Panama.


Sandy & Ben play a heated match of Ping Pong in Cerro Punta. 

Look, something cool in the jungle - hiking in PILA outside Cerro Punta.

Picking mud off Sandy - the climb down to the waterfall was steep and slippery!

In mid-May Pat & Casey came to visit us from Fairbanks, Alaska (our farthest visitors) for two weeks.  Ben and them hit up the city briefly and then saw El Valle and did some horseback riding in the rain.  Then they met up with me and we worked around some of our work commitments and regional meetings and saw Las Lajas, Boca Brava and then our community!  From there we spent some quality time in Cerro Punta and then made a summit attempt on Volcan Baru.  We turned back at 1am, and it was a good decision.  Not a fun hike!  Our visit to Boquete was quick, but we then headed back across the country to go to San Blas - PARADISE!!  We spent two nights in the land of the Kuna, relaxing in the crystal clear waters of the carribean before they jetted off back to the U.S.
Outside Finca Dracula with Pat & Casey.

Getting ready to climb Volcan Baru with a group of Volunteers.

Hanging out in Carti, Kuna Yala, waiting for our boat to go to Devil Island.

Exploring Devil Island, view of Dog Island.

Combing the reef and shoreline for cool things.

Sunset - looking at a hut, and toward Dog Island.

Nice Catch!
(Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from other visitors on this computer, so you'll just have to wait, or visit us on Facebook.)

Ben also flew out of Panama that day, to visit my family in Virginia for a week.  He went back to study and prepare for the LSAT (law school admission test). He had an excellent week hanging out with Nikodemus, eating lots of awesome food, and bragging about it to me everyday.  I was in our community, hanging out with the bugs and soaking in the rain.  Poor me.  :)

When Ben got back, he stayed in Panama to help with a few training activities and then his parents arrived to spend 9 days here!  They flew to David and rented a car to come up the mountain and met up with me in site in time to enjoy a 5-year olds birthday party.  This was the birthday party to beat all Comarca birthday parties!  A significant portion of the town was there, we used a formal agenda, we had special invitees (us), and lots of good food and the biggest pinata I've ever seen!  It was a fun cultural experience for Doc & Meg!  Then, true to our normal hotspots, we hit up Las Lajas, then Boquete where we learned a lot about coffee and then on to Cerro Punta to learn about orchids and to relax!  Ben then headed back across the country (in airplane, lucky duck) with them and then saw them off.

In the meantime, I was off to the Business Plan Development seminar (the culmination of A LOT of my time and work in the past year) with my incredible counterpart, Balbina.  She is writing a business plan for her restaurant.  Just as an aside, Balbina is so awesome - she entered her business in a contest for Female Entrepreneurs in Panama recently, and was selected as a finalist and presented herself and her business in Panama City - she won $1,000!  Go Balbina! 

Ben arrived the next morning to help with the seminar because I was facilitating many of the sessions, and he was a great helper in helping Balbina to write her plan.  We've got one more weekend of the seminar coming up in July and then she will have a complete plan!

After the seminar, we both headed back to site (the first time we've had some "alone and together time" up there in a while) for a few days, and then Ben headed back to the city to meet up with his sister, Sam and her husband Rob.  They rented a vehicle in Panama and drove right up to our site to meet me (I'm always in site!).  Instead of a birthday party they came up on "San Juan day" - which basically means that all the men get REALLY drunk and race around on their horses through town all day.  Interesting.  The second night (they also stayed 2 nights), there was a "discoteca" in town.  Discoteca in Chami can best be described as a junior high dance with alcohol.  No one really dances, they stand around the edge drinking a lot.  After a long night, a few brave souls might lose enough inhibitions to dance a little, but the music pumps until daybreak, or longer!  In our time in Chami, we hiked out to Escopeta (the somewhat abandoned mining town), and saw the "sights" of town.  We then went to Boquete where we did a coffee tour, and then ziplined the next morning.  Then it was off to the beach, and then back to Panama.  Always on the move!

We've really been blessed to have so many awesome visitors lately, but to be honest, we're also glad to be done (for now!) - it will be good to get back into our routine, and get more time in our community.  Our time is drawing to a close (our time in our community, at least) and we really want to enjoy every moment we possibly can.  We've only got about 3.5 months left in our service now, and we're looking to the future.  We've decided we ARE staying, for a while.  We are currently working out the details, and some of them are supposed to be kept under wraps for a while, but look for the info in a blog coming soon!!

21 comments:

DRS said...

A very nice summary. We truly had a super time and greatly appreciate your guiding and company. Sam and Rob debriefed with us, sharing their experiences with you. Enjoy your time together (like you said) and maintain those awesome positive attitudes that you possess.

Casey and Patrick said...

Pat and I had a great time! Thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality, and tell Balbina congratulations on how well she did in the contest for me!

于庭 said...
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Carole said...

AWESOME ! Loved the photos and the highlights of entertaining your visitors. You are great hosts and it's a beautiful place. Keep up the great work, you have made quite an impact on your community - congrats to Balbina !

Take care as you start your new adventures. Love ya - miss ya !

Mom, Dad,Lady, Nikodemus, Daisy, Amigo, Nikki & Gordo :->

鄭湘定 said...
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anacarolina said...

Wow. It looks like you guys had a great time! Did you make it Boquete at all?

天花天花 said...
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芳容222許林堅林芳容儀 said...
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建佑建佑 said...

let us be happey everyday!!............................................................

方偉白方偉白 said...

要保持更新呦,加油!!!期待你的新文章!!!.......................................................

dawsonfelicia張君dawsonfelicia均 said...

人生中最好的禮物就是屬於自己的一部份............................................................

吳淑芬吳淑芬 said...

唯有穿鞋的人,才知道鞋的哪一處擠腳............................................................

楊容茂楊容茂 said...

不論做什麼事,相信自己,別讓別人的一句話,把你擊倒。..................................................

吳許芝蓮佩儒 said...

老天爺賦予了強者的能力,就是要他比弱者多擔待.......................................................

莉真詹詹莉真詹詹 said...

Judge not of men and things at first sight................................................

凱許倫 said...

Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today..................................................................

esthermelvin said...

真得很不錯的blog,加油哦............................................................

惠桂刁惠桂刁惠桂刁 said...

時間可證明一切~你的BLOG是我覺得不賴的............................................................

江仁趙雲虹昆 said...

我來湊熱鬧的~~^^ 要平安快樂哦..................................................

阮艳 said...

要持續更新下去喲!!期待~~............................................................

王辛江淑萍康 said...

說「吃虧就是便宜的人」,多半不是吃虧的人。......................................................................