peace corps, Uncategorized

Leaky Ceiling

It’s true! As rainy season rages (hopefully to a halt soon) on my bedroom ceiling continues its incessant drip-drip-drip into the bucket in my room. In a way, the leaky ceiling is one of the few constants in an ever-changing ebb and flow of work, socialization, and just general existence. October and November flew by like some crazed jet planes on a high-speed chase. Let’s have a little recap of what happened:

October

  • The annual sombrero pinta’o festival
  • PML Workshop
  • Ecuador

November

  • So many patronales
  • Pool day with the friends
  • Two separate thanksgiving celebrations
  • Ya girl ran a 5k!

This year I had no plans to walk in the carretera for sombrero pinta’o so naturally I ended up walking in the carretera. As always, the celebration was an exciting time! This year it was a bigger party and I even ended up going to the discoteca with some PCV’s, embassy folk, and Panamanians from my community. We threw down and danced until about 1 am.  I was also invited to participate in a 2-day Project Management and Leadership workshop because the office is hoping to improve the current training program. Odiris, one of my best friends from my community, went with me. We learned a lot together and are hoping to implement a 3-day leadership seminar in La Pintada in January.

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At the end of October, I took a well-deserved break and went to visit Aliza who was living in Ecuador! It was an incredible trip and I was pretty much going non-stop until day 5 of my trip when my body basically shut down on me. I think it was miffed that I fit in so much fun in such a short time. But, I saw the middle of the world, I did a walking tour of Quito, I went up to the tower of the basilica, and I took some cable cars up to the top of a dormant volcano. I also at a lot of chocolate, drank a lot of coffee, and ate roughly 8,000 berries. I’ll definitely be going back to Ecuador in the future—gotta see Galapagos one day!

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November is the mes of festivales patrias—there are 2 independence days, flag day, Colón day, and el primer grito de independencia. Try saying those 3 times fast. I stayed in my house for a lot of them this year however I did make time to go walk in the parade with my school on November 4th. It was lovely and we somehow managed to not get rained on!

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Then, a little later that month Odiris invited me to go out to the pool with her and her family. It was so nice to just float around and hang out with people without worrying about work or school. Plus, Odiris has the cutest nieces and we had a great time splashing around with them.

Thanksgiving this year meant two celebrations—one with friends and one with the ministry of education. Both were nice in their own ways. I made apple galette for our volunteer thanksgiving on the 18th and it was a huge hit. Plus, the ever-incredible Gina set up a scavenger hunt for all of us which was a fun way to start the afternoon. The food was great, the company was better, and at the end of the night we went to a casino where I sang karaoke! Thanksgiving with MEDUCA was nice because we had to do 0 prep work and got fed an amazing meal of pork with pineapple, endless fruit, and the best bollos de coco I’ve ever had.

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And, finally, I ran a 5k! I’ve been preparing for a few months but hadn’t even ran more than 1.76 miles until Friday (where I ran 2.52). I was feeling apprehensive about the run—3.1 miles is a lot and I am by no means a runner. We had a group of over 20 volunteers and Peace Corps staff running on behalf of Cody Oser, a volunteer who we unfortunately lost a few months ago. The energy at the marathon was high and we had some great support from the office on getting us to our relay spots for the 5k’s. Gina was the MVP again and, after running her 5k, she ran mine with me. I’m not sure I could’ve finished it without her—the route was all hills and sun which I had not prepared for. I finished in about 37 minutes which isn’t too far off from my usual time running in site. Afterwards I felt pretty good, but my right knee swelled up to about the size of a grapefruit, so I took some ibuprofen, got an ace wrap, and went to meet Katie at Starbucks. To cap race day off all of us went out for sushi afterwards where Ben, Francie, and I split an actual boatful of sushi.  I’ve never felt so glad to see raw fish in my entire life.

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And now I’m off to a friend’s site for 7 days to give some English charlas at the school and give some swing dance lessons! It’ll be a nice break because there’s no signal in their site, so I can kick back, ice my knee, and enjoy the cellphone-less life for a bit. Plus, my parents will be here in 31 days! I can’t wait to show them all around the country I now call home.

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Uncategorized

My first Thanksgiving away from home

Thanksgiving, turkey day, mashed potato day, día de acción de gracias; these are all of the names I heard for the holiday that we Americans celebrate on he fourth Thursday in November. For the past several years I’ve celebrated thanksgiving with friends and family, often preceding the actual day with a “friendsgiving” at someone’s apartment. I’ve never spent a thanksgiving away from my family before and I’ve certainly never spent one out of the country. Luckily I have an amazing group of friends here in Panama and we all got together to celebrate. Some highlights include:

  • Eating stovetop stuffing that tasted just like home
  • Eating pumpkin pie with whipped cream
  • Eating caramel apples and pretending it was fall 
  • When the hammock Erin and Dillon were in fell and showered us all with styrofoam

That last one took us all by surprise but luckily we had a good laugh and no one got hurt. Plus the styrofoam created a nice white thanksgiving-guess we’ll have to replicate it for Christmas! 


I didn’t know how I would feel today but I can honestly say that I wasn’t sad. I didn’t miss home any more than usual and I got to spend time with a group of people that I’ve really grown to care about. Not only that but I got to stuff my face and show off my mashed potato and gravy making abilities (all made from scratch)! So I’m thankful for my Peace corps family, I’m thankful to be in Panama, I’m thankful for my real family, and I’m thankful for American food. 

I sat on a gas tank for dinner

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