I received the following to post from Courtney.
Hello to everyone,
Just to refresh your memory, I am the Peace Corps Volunteer currently serving here in the province of Chiriquí who was invited by Don Ray to be a guest author on Chiriquí Chatter. I previously posted about the Girl Scout (Muchachas Guias) group in the community where I am working and generally about life in the Peace Corps, but I have not had the opportunity to post in quite a while. Today I am in David running errands and catching up on some internet work so I decided that I would take this opportunity to give a quick update on how life has been in rural Panama over the past couple of months.
In June my parents came to visit from the States so I took some vacation time to travel with them in Panama. We also visited my community for 4 days, and my parents were great sports about adjusting to rural Panamanian life! We all stayed in my little wooden house which consists of two rooms. One of the rooms is a narrow and relatively small kitchen, and the other room is what I would call my “everything room.” The “everything room” is pretty large and houses my bed, a table, a bench, etc.
In preparation for my parents visit, one of my neighbors built a bed frame so that there would be a second bed where my mom and dad could sleep. The builder of the bed in what I would refer to as my Panamanian dad. I lived with his family for 4 months, and we are still neighbors. The family feeds me every chance that they get, and I often buy yucca and bananas that the father harvests. He worked for the government (MEDUCA) for many years doing planning for and construction of schools throughout Chiriquí and what is now the Comarca Ngabe Bugle. Essentially, he is very skilled when it comes to carpentry and any type of construction project. I, of course, paid him for his labor and the materials required for the construction of the bed, but the care that my Panamanian dad put into building the bed was truly something special. He meticulously took measurements and talked to me every day before I headed to the city to meet parents about how he was planning to reinforce the cane on which the mattress would lay so that the “señores” (my parents) wouldn’t fall through the bed in the middle of the night. The thought of this obviously made both my Panamanian dad and me laugh. When my parents and I arrived to the community the finished bed frame was sitting on of my front patio ready to scoot right into the house. Now that is service!
My parents got a little taste of my life during the few days that we spent in my site. We killed a chicken, ate pollo guisado, “paseared” (visited) at the homes of many community members, cooked yucca, fried green bananas, walked a lot, cleaned and organized my house, and cut cane that I hope to use to make a compost area in my yard. My dad also bravely killed a scorpion that we found in the house. My water comes every other day in the spigot so we also got the true “campo” experience of bathing using a cup and water from a bucket.
My favorite part of their stay in my community was probably the lunch that we had at my former host family’s house with my Panamanian parents. My parents don’t speak much Spanish so I did my best to translate, but in a weird way I felt like they could all kind of understand each other. Maybe it was the pointing or just the fact that words are not really necessary to express appreciation. My parents are so appreciative to my Panamanian family for taking such good care of me. We played cards with the kids and we also got a tour of the bedroom where I had lived for 4 months. After my site, my parents and I headed to David with a greater appreciation for hot running water and drinks with ice than we had before experiencing life in my community. Then we enjoyed a few days of luxury at the beach and in Panama City before my parents boarded the plane and headed back to the States. We had a great visit, and I am very thankful that they were able and willing to come all the way to Panama!
Now I’ve been back in my community for over four weeks. All is well and I’m continuing my work with the Girl Scouts, the cooperative, and the school. I have many other projects in the works, but sometimes progress is quite slow. Patience is definitely the key!
Unfortunately, I’m running out of computer time and will have to end this update here. I will do my best to be more prompt with my next post. I hope everyone is well, and thanks for reading!
Until next time,
Peace Corps Panama Volunteer
Province of Chiriquí
Note: The contents of this post are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.