If you`re reading this I`m assuming you are one of 3 things.
1: Friends and Family (Hi guys!)
2: Hoping to join the Peace Corps and devoring every blog you find (good luck my friends!)
3: Weirdly obsessed with both musicals and peace corps service (Hello. We should be friends)
For anyone who deosn`t fit strongly into category number 3 I`m going to assume you have only some, if any, knowledge of musicals (with some friends and family being exempted). In that case I highly reccommend you go to youtube and look up the song “Getting to Know You” from “The King and I.” I`ll give you license to choose either the original or the recent broadway revival. Go on. I`ll wait.
You back? Great. That is exactly the task I}m faced with for the next 3 months in my site. Before I delve deeper into exactly what that means lets take a little stroll down memory lane and see how the last month developed.
After site visit all of us aspirantes dragged ourselves back to Santa Rita for another few weeks of training. Spoiler alert: Everyone was pretty much over the whole training scene by this point. We had the usual classes and did the usual things. However, one Saturday we had a water feria! Basically we learned how to clean and store our water so we don`t get giardia or worms. We also made these nifty little cubos.
Not so nifty was having to carry this to site
After the water feria I spent some time just hanging out with some fellow PCVs and with my host mom. Near the end of our stay we hosted a party in Santa Rita for all of the host families as a way of saying thank you. I got to emcee the event and, per my spanish teacher`s reccommendation, I wore a full pollera. The pollera is the typical dress for celebrations here in Panama. The skirt of the one I wore is usually worn to dance tipico. I also got to do some work on the 3rd goal of peace corps, promoting american culture, by making my host mom some good old fashioned Maryland style crabcakes! For using crab stick they turned out pretty good if I say so myself. Anything is good if you add enough Old Bay to it though.
*insert crab emoji here*
For anyone wondering, that is not my real hair
We said goodbye to our host families and Santa Rita at 5 am on Monday May 2nd as we boarded the bus and were whisked off to Ciudad del Saber for some last training in the dorms. Getting to see everyone before going to swear in and going to site was really nice and, the best part about it, MAIL FINALLY ARRIVED. I`m still missing a few letters but I think the woman at the desk understood why I was bugging her on a weekly basis after seeing my stack. To anyone reading this who sent me something-thank you!!
Getting mail honestly made my week. I feel so loved by all of you guys back home! I hope all my letters are slowly making their way into your hands.
But lets move along. May 5th was the big day-SWEAR IN! All of us Aspirantes officially became Peace Corps Volunteers! We sang the Panamanian national anthem as well as the American one, we ate some food, we hugged a lot of people, and generally just had a good time. My host mom came to see me get sworn in too! I wish I had the chance to get a picture with her there but alas, I didn’t. I did however get some pictures with some fellow volunteers including 2 friends that are going to be living forever away in Bocas (literally halfway across the country) and one who is going to be in the Comaraca Nogbe Bugle.
Kobo Kuin Courtney!
Leaving me for Bocas
After swear in we spent some time in Casco Viejo in Panama City at a lovely little hostel called “Luna’s Castle.” It’s a great little place, the staff speaks English, there’s a bar attached to it, AND it’s super affordable for those of you traveling on a budget. It was great to get a free night to relax with some other volunteers before really starting these next two years. Saturday I headed to what I’m now calling home-La Pintada. Almost more exciting than that-two of my friends from home got engaged!!! Congratulations Cherish and Kari! I hope you read this! The past week I’ve spent relaxing and settling in to my new house and family. My family here is so amazing and so welcoming. This is evidenced by the SUPER EMBARRASSING STORY I’M ABOUT TO TELL YOU.
The other day my host sister and I went to the rio (super beautiful but I didn’t have my phone so I couldn’t get any photos. We came back and we both planned to shower and then head out to pasear in the community. I went into my room, threw my keys on my table, changed into my towel, went to the bathroom and showered. I walked back to my room to discover that my door was somehow LOCKED. So I’m there in nothing but a towel trying to figure out what to do. My host sister came out in her towel to shower and I told her my situation. This resulted in both of us trying to pick the lock in our towels and then it turned into a family affair with my whole host family trying to figure out how to get into this room. My grandfather ended up REMOVING PART OF THE ROOF in order to reach down into the room and hook my keys. All in all it was a great bonding experience that we all laughed a lot about.
Having a bad time
Embarrassing mishaps aside I’m settling in well here and I’m adjusting to the school and the community. Like Anna says in “The King and I” I’m “getting to like you, and hope you like me.” That last part is key. Since I’ve been here I’ve visited the Sombrero pinta’o museum, seen a lasso competition, and seen a bull riding contest. And don’t worry, the videos are below for your viewing pleasure. Till next time!