A lot has happened since my last post and I can practically hear the leading player from “pippin” singing in my head every time I walk down the street in my NEW SITE! That’s right ladies and gents! I found out that I’m going to be spending these next two years in the beautiful town of La Pintada. La Pintada, formerly known as El valle de la Concepción (the valley of the conception), is famous for making the beautiful “sombrero pinta’o” that you can see in Panama.
Before I get into all of the semantics of site announcement I’m going to summarize everything that happened in between!
All of us aspirantes got a chance to visit some actual volunteers for a week! I visited the lovely Kara (and her cat Canela!) in Veraguas. We both love theatre so the “Hamilton” soundtrack was playing on repeat all week. I got a chance to sit in with her on some classes in the primary school and I got to see the first meeting of her community English class for adults! Over the weekend we went to Santiago and I sat in on a meeting of a bunch of Panamanian youth that are trying to improve things for youth in Panama.
After that week it was back to training for a bit and then we got to travel to Coclé for our Tech week! I worked in a primary school with a first grade teacher for the week and I bunked up with four other PCV’s. Having roommates for a week was great-I feel like all of us got a lot closer which is nice because most of us ended up in the same province!
Working in a primary school, especially with really small children, was a new experience for me. My counterpart was amazing though. In the span of one week we built a lot of confianza and I got the chance to co-plan and co-teach with her! At the end of the week the school I was at had a little party for all of us and we presented our counterparts with certificates. We also got a chance to travel to La Pintada to play a game of ultimate frisbee! Little did I know that soon I would be calling it home.
After all of that moving around we finally got a break-a free night to do whatever we wanted! We decided to hit up the beach. Playa Santa Clara is beautiful despite the tiny jellyfish in the water. Luckily their sting doesn’t really hurt. I’ll definitely be bringing friends and family there once they come and visit.
And now what we’ve all been waiting for! My site!!! It’s better than I could have ever imagined. I LOVE my host family so much already. And I have some host siblings living with me this time around! My host sister is 16 and I think we’re going to be good friends. I’m working in a primary school and I have 3 counterpart English teachers that all seem super excited to work with me. Throughout the week I got to observe their classes (pre-kinder through 6th grade!). It’s going to be an interesting time for sure. Anyone who knows me knows that primary isn’t my thing-I was really hoping and asking for a secondary school. However, after seeing the kids and the amazing teachers I’m excited to take on all of the challenges primary school has to offer. Plus it’s nice to walk into school and get hug-swarmed by a group of children shouting “teacher!” with big smiles plastered on their faces.
My afternoons were filled with pasearing. One of the women who works at the municipio met up with me at 4 every day to take me around and introduce me to people and show me the town. I’m so glad she did because I feel so accepted and so excited to get know these people more. I’m also fairly convinced that I was sent to the art district of Panama because everyone here is an artisan of some kind. I met people who make crafts, people who make sombreros, and people who play music! I already got an invitation for flute lessons and for dance lessons. They dance tipico here and I’m dying to learn!
(Fun fact: accordion is super popular here)
I live in a valley surrounded by mountains that I hope to climb during my two years in Panama. The most notable mountain is called “Orarí.” I’m not sure that’s how it’s spelled but you get my drift. On Friday my community guide took me to a nearby community so I could get a good view of the mountains. It was pretty breathtaking.
(Orarí in the top photo)
I passed the rest of the weekend with my family in penonome, my capital city, and at home just hanging out. I also went to church with one of my new cousins. He’s Christian but I promised my host family that I would attend mass with them once I got back since I wouldn’t be able to Sunday. When I made it home to Santa Rita I was so excited to see my host mom! I didn’t realize how much I missed her. The people that I’ve lived with here really do start to feel like family and I’m going to be a little sad when I have to leave. I’ve also had some twinges of homesickness this week-not because I’m sad but because my family has been so kind! I’ve got to hang out with them so much and it makes me want to hang out with my family at home-start planning your vacations guys! Luckily my new site has great access to cell phone signal and Internet cafes so I’ll be able to stay in touch. Plus once I change my address my mail should come a lot faster!
It finally feels like my peace corps journey is beginning and it can be a little overwhelming. I’m keeping my positive attitude and I am really excited, if a bit anxious, to turn the page and begin the book because the prologue has gone on for long enough. As the leading player says:
“You look frenzied, you look frazzled
Peaked as any alp
Flushed and rushed and razzle-dazzled…
If you’d take it easy, trust awhile
Don’t look blue, don’t look back
You’ll pull through in just awhile
‘Cause you’re on th right track”
Can’t wait to update you all in another month!