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There are many mixed feelings on getting a pet in peace corps. Everyone has an opinion. Some will say it’s the best thing you can do-having a pet really helps with stress relief. Others say it’s too difficult to maintain a pet; especially if you want to take it back to the US with you. Luckily I didn’t have to choose. My pet chose me. ​

This little guy has been hanging out (pun intended) in my room for quite some time now. Sometimes when I come in he tries to leave-cue video here-but recently he just sticks around and let’s me do my thing. My host sister named him “Draco” which appeals to the Harry Potter need that will always live inside me. In my time with him I’ve also learned that bats have really long tongues! If you do nothing else today you should google “bat tongues” and be amazed. I didn’t read up enough to know why he occasionally sticks his tongue out (maybe to smell?) but it’s pretty darn cute and strange. 

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Photo Friday! 

The teachers lounge


So I thought I’d give everyone a peek at my school! This is where I spend a decent portion of my week working with pre-k through 6th grade! I have 3 counterpart teachers here and we’re just starting the second trimester. Here in Panama the school year is February-December so I won’t be getting my summer break for a little bit. Kids love to run around on the green during recreo in the middle of the day and there’s tipico practice in the teachers lounge on Wednesdays! 

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I am not a stranger to the rain

Winter here lasts from June to December and with it comes rain in the form of sometimes biblical downpours. A song from “Children of Eden” seemed only appropriate to title this post because not only did I feel a bit like Noah-I also participated in a ton of religious events since my last post. But back to the sky water. How bad can the rain really be you ask? Well, let me show you.


That’s the creek that usually runs behind my house. Notice how not angry it is? That all changed when the water nation attacked…


Here’s a list of a few things I saw float down the newly formed river while I sat watching it from my hammock:

  • Several two liter soda bottles and styrofoam cups
  • A bamboo stalk about a meter long
  • A branch that was bigger than my arm
  • A tree trunk the size of my torso

Amazingly we didn’t lose power during the storm. We have been losing power a lot lately though. The other night I showered by candlelight. Luckily my little solar lamp is pretty useful(thanks dad!).

So May was the “Month of the Virgin” here in Panama and I’ve never attended so many religious events in my entire life. My community is pretty Catholic but we do have an evangelical/possibly baptist (it’s a little unclear) church and a jehovas witness temple tucked in too.

The Catholic church is definitely the largest 

I try to go to church whenever I’m invited because it gets me out in the community. We celebrated May in a lot of ways here. Students at my school brought flowers almost daily to place on the statuette of the Virgin Mary that we have in the courtyard. I also attended my first rosario! Its basically a rosary event where the read about Mary and the mysteries of the rosary which I didn’t even know were a thing. If we do these in the US I was unaware of them.

“And we’ll never be royals…”

I attended on the last day of the event and got to see Mary get crowned. The whole shebang ended with brindis(snacks) and an invitation to attend the big rosary party that the family was throwing the next day! Parties here mean you get lots of great food so naturally I told them I’d be there.

The party ended up being a 3 hour mass in the rain. Luckily I managed to snag a seat below the tent they had set up. They had a band playing music and even brought in a priest from Panama City to speak. It was an interesting event and it ended with carry out boxes filled with arroz con pollo, tamales, potato salad, cupcakes, and candy.

Blessing the altar


After all of these ceremonies I got a bit of a break. I headed out to penonome for my regional meeting and school break started! I had a lot of free time to fill and I did that by pasearing, playing computer games, and taking long walks with Linda.

My host mom’s 5 year old granddaughter came and spent vacation week with us. I don’t have any younger siblings (that twin life) so living with a kid was interesting. She had so much energy! We watched “Guardians of the Galaxy” together and I’m pretty sure the only words she got were “I am Groot” which prompted her to turn to me and say “Yo soy Groot” which was admittedly, pretty cute. She also did some yoga with me ans me Linda

Double fisting art supplies

On Sunday during vacations two of my community members in site invited me to go play Ultimate Frisbee in Penonome. It was probably the hottest day that week but it was so much fun! There were four teams playing for the semi-finals and I actually got to join one of them to play a game. They are all a lot better at Ultimate than I am. I credit that to their having played together so often and my only having played some pick up games with friends in college. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a light up frisbee and convince some kids to play out on the soccer field one night when the sun isn’t trying to make me a tomato. It was a lot of fun and I’m probably going to try to go at least once a month. The best part about it is most of the players are right around my age and I’ve been seriously lacking in the whole “friends in my community” department. Hopefully that changes in the next few months!

On the last day of vacation Linda and I were going to go to church but she decided that it would be better to just go for a long walk. After celebrating all month I was glad for the recess. We wandered past the cemetery that’s on the outskirts of town and just headed down this road for a while. Linda was highly disappointed that she didn’t see any snakes. We did however, see a ton of butterflies, a handful of caterpillars, a super cute puppy, a dead lizard, and a teeny tiny toad! I swear he was about the size of a penny. The walk was good but very hot. Luckily we found a house that sold duro’s and I got one for each of us. It was so hot that I didn’t even care that it was grape flavored.

 

We saved his life and got him off the road

OH! And last but not least, I GOT A HOUSE!!!! I’ll be moving in August and I’m super excited! It faces out onto the soccer field and my favorite mountain so I’ll have a great view in the mornings. Plus I hear its a great house for carnavalito in February because the floats pass right in front of it. For me it’ll be my first time living alone and I’m feeling both excited and anxious. Luckily my host family is amazing and has told me that I can come there to do laundry, eat, or even sleep if I want! I’ll definitely be taking them up on the first two

 

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The sombrero pinta’o museum in my site may be little but it’s worth a visit! There’s an artisan there every day making the sombreros so you can get a first hand look at what the process is like.  Sombreros are made by weaving around the wooden form you can see in the picture above. And, the sombreros and headbands (and all of the other amazing things they make with this natural fiber) are available for purchase if you want to take a little of Panama home with you!

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Photo Friday! 

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¡Vídeo viernes!

For those reading this who may not speak Spanish that translates to video Friday which just didn’t have the right ring to it. Below is a video (And a photo) from the “Notas de Valores” at my host sisters school!  

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​The shouting you hear in the back of the video with the girl singing is pretty traditional here. I’m about 90% sure it’s called “Saloma” but only about 70% sure I’m spelling that right. In the bottom photo are all of the girls in the running for “reina” or “queen.” The queen is chosen at random-each of the girls is given a balloon to pop and one of them has a paper on it saying “reina.” The girl in red (she represented the valor or “value” of love) won! I wanted to throw my host sisters dance video up as well but alas the internet won’t allow that. I promise you-it was awesome! 

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