Probably my favorite Panamanian word. In Spanish the word is actually oye, but I prefer when I hear Jaime saying woooooooooojeh. While oye means “hear,” people in my village use this phrase when they can’t believe something. For example, I had a woh-jeh moment myself this weekend when I found guayaba flavored jelly from Costa Rica in my handy dandy market store in Tolé. A few minutes later when I got home, I had a second woh-jeh moment when I realized that the loaf of bread I bought wasn’t put in my bag. Wohhhhjeh, niagare kuin (no good).
Where have you(r blogs) been all my li-i-i-i-i-i-fe?
Shortly after writing my last post about dreams and fears, I got super sick again. After showering one morning, my stomach started to feel uneasy so I decided to stay home. My younger host sister had been sick the night before so my host mom had taken her to the local clinic, and I was therefore home alone, with the exception of my other 12 year old host sister. I quickly went to my neighbor’s tienda to buy phone credit to call the PCMOs but they were sold out. I ended up buying a soup so my stomach wouldn’t be empty, but within 20 minutes I’d puked everything, and then some. I started getting a fever and Zareth suggested we borrow the neighbor’s phone to make a call. We eventually made it there, but before I could borrow a phone I ended up vomiting in my neighbor’s backyard. When I was finally able to call a PC doctor, they told me I had to go to the hospital in David immediately. I said I couldn’t because there was no way I could travel with so much pain. My stomach felt like it was on fire, and also very acidic. Then the PCMO suggested going to the pharmacy in Tolé and traveling to David either later or the following day. I agreed, and headed back home. Luckily my host mom and older host sister, Juana, were home by then and they helped me get into the hammock in the porch. I remember sweating like crazy, but Juana later told me my body was ice cold. I passed out for a while, and because the pain wouldn’t go away, my host mom prepared me a té de guanabana, which helps settle the stomach. However, Juana also called the paramedics because the local clinic was already closed by then. The paramedics showed up half an hour later, but by then the pain had subsided so we decided I didn’t need to travel to the nearest hospital in San Felix. They said I possibly had parasites, and that as soon as I felt better I should head to a hospital on my own to get checked out before it worsened.
I headed to David the next morning and had blood work done because the doctor was afraid I might have hepatitis. Luckily the results came back negative, so they once again gave me antibiotics to treat the gastritis, and now gastroenteritis. I spent the night in David, and headed back to site the following morning. I kid you not, within 10 minutes of being on the busito to get to my house, I started to feel nauseous and had to vomit the minute I got home. Honestly, I felt really scared and sad, so I once again contacted the PCMO, who told me that I would have to travel to Panama City the next day in order to see a specialist. The specialist diagnosed me with having a severe case of gastritis, resulting from the water I was drinking, and using to cook. I was placed on a three week treatment, and am happy to share that I have since not had any major stomach issues. Yay for science and medicine and PCMOs and caring neighbors! Throughout the entirety of those weeks the phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child” really resonated with me. Like a child who is constantly learning things about the world they live in, I am learning about how to care for myself in this new setting. I feel very thankful to be surrounded by people who are happy to continuously teach me so many new things, which are crucial to my wellbeing and happiness.
Gastritis pretty much took over my life for the month of July, but August and September were much more enjoyable. Shortly after returning from Panama City, I received the most amazing, award-winning, and beautiful care package ever. I am very, very lucky to have a mom who loves me enough to send me 4 lbs of red vines, among so many other things. Toby was equally as happy with his enormous bone. Thanks mom + family, you rock 🙂
In August, Isabel visited my site for my SECNA presentation. We spent the majority of the day at school, where I gave her a tour, and gave a presentation to my counterparts about my school & community analysis. I also provided a brindis of Cheeto Puffs and juice boxes 🙂 By that point I had already moved into my house, so we hung out here and enjoyed dried mangos and trail mix. Move in day was fun and sad, and then fun again. Zareth was especially sad I would be moving out, and a few tears were shed. After about 5 trips, and only with the help of about 8 people, was I finally moved into my new place. How to describe my house? Heavenly might be a step too far, but it sure is cozy and perfect to me. I have a really big yard, which is great for playing catch with Toby, and for sembrando vegetales y frutas. The house has a nice porch area, and it was semi/almost entirely furnished, which made moving in so much easier. The biggest purchase I made was the mini fridge, and I also recently had to replace the hose that connects the gas tank to the stove. I have a couple of PC cookbooks that were put together by previous volunteers, so I usually cook something from either of those. The books include everything from breakfasts, desserts, breads, main courses, to Panamanian dishes, and the ingredients are usually things I can get in Tolé. (More to come about Panamanian dishes later!)
Wolfie visited for two weeks, and it was such a blast! I met him in Panama City, and we traveled together to my site. Jaime showed him a bunch of songs to help him practice his Spanish, and artistic skills, and in general the kids just loved playing with him. A teacher from the school invited us to attend a school field trip to a museum in Nancito, where petroglyphic artifacts were discovered aging waaaay back. Petroglyphs are rocks with carved out designs on the surface. While he was here, he installed an antenna in my house that now allows me to have 3G IN MY HOUSE! Vielen dank, schatzi. You’re the best 🙂 We traveled a bit and ate a lot, and every part was awesome!
IT WAS A BUSY 2 WEEKS!
Towards the end of August all the volunteers from G78 traveled to the province of Cocle for IST, in-service training. During these 2 weeks we learned about how to collect, and report data relevant to our sectors, such as attendance and whether there is an improvement on the material we facilitated about, in seminars, clubs and camps. TELLS PCVs learned about starting up successful English classes, which I plan on starting in the following week/s. After IST ended, there was a week-long vacation to conclude the end of the second trimester of the school year.
Since my SECNA presentation took place early on (about a month before IST), I stopped observing English classes and instead focused on running the school library. At first I only had 10 kids coming in regularly to check out books, but now the average has grown to about 70, and one day over 100 books were checked out! (115 to be exact but who’s counting). Score! Initially it was also only 2nd and 3rd graders checking out books, and now I have student from K-7 looking for things to read! At the moment, students are only checking out books in Spanish but overtime I will start assigning them books in English. I have been keeping track of who checks out what books, and because the Spanish selection of books is smaller, I hope English books also appeal to the students.
How do you even run a library?
Before a student can check out a book, I usually check that they can at least read the title. This ensures the kids aren’t overwhelming themselves with books that might be above their reading level. Similarly, if a book seems too easy, I usually ask students to look for a book that will challenge them more. For shorter books, I ask the kids to read and return them the next day. I do this to make sure of the following things: 1, the kids are reading what they check out, 2, the books are being returned, and 3, so that other students also have the opportunity to check books out, since supply is so limited. For larger books, I usually allow them to be checked out for 1-2 weeks. These books are usually checked out by 5th-7th graders so I trust that they will be responsible with them. Finally, when students are returning a book, they need to tell me something they learned/their favorite part, in order to check out another book. At first, there were a handful of kids who were very shy to share anything, but I have since noticed that students are becoming more comfortable sharing their thoughts with me, and in front of their peers. I’m going to be starting a reading club soon, where different students will read books in front of their peers, to focus on public speaking skills.
This week all the comarca PCVs headed to San Felix for the last Regional Meeting of the year. There are 3 annual RMs, and the next one will be in late January. I got to meet the 10 new PCVs from G79, who are either WASH (water and sanitation) or SAS (sustainable agriculture). After the meeting, we headed to Las Lajas beach and enjoyed one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen. I headed to San Felix the day before RM for language reinforcement training in Ngäbere. It was so helpful and I also got to see my old Spanish teacher, Rolando. Kuin Deka (good day)!
Like I mentioned earlier, I plan on starting my English class very soon. I decided to offer an English conversational class for adults first, since I have seen the most interest from them. I am also planning on running a HEforSHE seminar in October at my school. I’m just waiting for approval from the school director. For that activity, I’ve invited Bennett, Paul, and Walker to help me co-facilitate. I’ll let you all know how it goes!
Lastly, I wanted to shout-out all the peeps who’ve visited me! You know who you are, and know the world will too! Lucy, Ian, Enid & Nicole. Come back whenever friends 🙂
Last, but not least, a new video! Click on the link below & enjoy 🙂