So today marks 19 days in Panama! What’s happened over those past 19 days? SO MUCH
Let’s start from the beginning. We started off by leaving our hotel in Dallas at 2 am to head to the airport. There we waited until 4 before they would let us check in. From there it was a plane to Miami for a brief layover then straight to Panama to begin the next 27 months!
We started off our Panama journey in dorms where I met this handsome gentleman!
The first 3 days of training we had both CEC(community enviornmental conservation) and TELLS(teaching English, leadership, and life skills) together and training went from about 7 am to 5 pm. However, in Panama you can only have hot showers and wifi for a brief period of time-it was time to head to our first host families! TELLS and CEC split up into two different communities and I’ve been living with my host mom Mabel for a little over 2 weeks now!
Training is intense in Peace Corps. Tuesday through Friday we have four hours of language class starting at 8 am, an hour break for lunch at 12, and then 4 hours of technical class from 1-5. It’s a little exhausting. Not to mention on Mondays we have to catch a bus at 5 am to head to group training. We usually get there around 7:30/8 and are there until 6 when we catch the bus home. Never in my life have I felt more like Lin Manuel Miranda’s Alexander Hamilton-the work is non-stop.
Luckily, in those first 19 days I already suffered through my first bout of Panamanian illness! About two days into living with my host family I just didn’t feel well. I felt cold which did not make sense for the 75 plus degree weather and when I checked I was rocking a fever of about 101. Cue me having to find a phone with minutes so I could call the medical officer. I ended up getting sent to chorrera, a nearby city, to get diagnosed. I had the flu! A few days of no appetite, several occasions of diarrhea, and being around people who don’t speak your language is incredibly difficult. There was nothing I wanted more than a hot shower or bath and my own bed as I lamented to friends back in the US. However, after I got medication into my system and illness out of it, it wasn’t so bad. All of my friends in PC were super supportive of me and everyone checked in to see how I was feeling.
I’ve been trying to acclimate to my new life-it’s very different than life in the states. My backyard here hosts chickens and stray cats(that I love), and I wash my clothes in a washing machine made by Samsung.
The past week has been really amazing. I’ve connected with more of my fellow volunteers and we got to go on a trip into Panama City! It’s beautiful there and it helped me get more comfortable with public transit which always makes me anxious.
Today was one of my favorite days so far in Panama though. My phone stopped working for a few hours and I had to seek out other volunteers to help me fix it. Luckily they knew exactly what to do and got me back up and running in no time. After that I pasear-ed at a fellow volunteers house and a group of us coordinated a trip to a local swimming hole. While on the way there I met an adorable puppy so really the day couldn’t have been better.