Or in other words what’s up? Short answer: A LOT.
Luckily for you, and as you may have already noticed, I’m not one for short answers. The last time I blogged we were still in la Cuidad del Saber, awaiting Sunday morning, when we would 1: find out who our host families were going to be for the next 10 weeks, and 2: move into our new homes in Santa Rita. After breakfast we were handed our home placements, and I found out I would be living with a family of four, two parents and two younger boys, ages 11 and 16. The drive to Santa Rita was about an hour, and once we turned in the community, the jitters started. I was of course a little nervous to meet my Panamanian family, but also very excited! The parents, Elvis and Nilvia were very welcoming and I quickly got a tour of the house and met the family members that lived next door.
After I got settled in a bit, Nilvia asked me to refer to her as Mima, which is slang and a current trend in Panama. The word mima is actually the word mami backwards. Another example is que sopa, which means que paso. Elvis asked me to call him Calobre, which is the nickname that all his family and friends refer to him as. Because the weather was so hot that day, my host parents planned a trip to the river. Once we got to the river, we met up with some family members and enjoyed a great afternoon out. There were even cows walking near the river that decided to grab a drink of water.
The next day was super tiring because we had to be ready by 5am, in order to avoid traffic on our way back to the PC office. However, we still hit EL TRANQUE / traffic and what would usually take one hour, took two hours and a half. Fortunately, we got to watch American Reunion in Spanish, which was even funnier than the original. The upside to being up so early was learning who and where we would be visiting. Since the very beginning of my application, I shared an interest in being placed in an indigenous community. As a result, I will be traveling to and staying in Chichica for one week while I visit Kristen, an english volunteer in that region. Chichica is inside the Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé region of Panama. Woooohoooo 🙂
The rest of the week has been almost routine-like. In the mornings my class meets up with our language professor Rolando, and we study Panamanian Spanish and specific DICHOS that we hear often. In addition, our class has been focusing on an upcoming TELLS (Teaching English and Leadership and Life Skills) field trip. On Saturday, we will be heading to La Chorrera, which is a nearby town for most of the day. My four classmates and I will be facilitating the trip and helping other students practice their Spanish in everyday scenarios, such as shopping and asking for directions.
During lunchtime, we return back to our host family CHANTIS – or homes – and have lunch, before heading back to PC training. So far this week we have reviewed how PC has developed over the years and the role of a PCV in a volunteer community. Both the language classes and training are held in the homes of Santa Rita inhabitants. My language class is held at Mima’s grandma’s house, and our afternoon trainings have been taking place at a ranch a few minutes from my home.
In the afternoons I usually lay in the hammock and call my mom and Wolfie before having dinner with my family. After that, I take my second shower of the day and I’m usually asleep by 9. I would say the only downfall to this week would be the insane number of bites I have, especially in comparison to everyone else in TELLS. However, my mosquito net has helped a lot and I’ve been applying bug repellant like crazy, twice daily, so I hope this issue subsides soon.
Hasta mañana iguana.
Fun fact, I have been struggling with saying goodbye in Panama because I have always excused myself by saying ADIOS – or to God – but here most people either say hasta luego, or ciao. They specifically do not say adios because it means someone is quickly approaching death and will therefore be with God eternally, so I definitely need to keep looking out for that.
As usual, I have so much to say but so little time. Feel free to send questions if there’s anything else you want to know about my life in El Cuerpo de Paz so far. Ciao!