When the praises go up

The blessings come down!

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Hola! camarón con cola!
Hiya friends! I know I know! There’s so many things to update you on. Lately I feel like I’ve been running out of juice, with the school year having ended, and the daily, scratch that, HOURLY rainstorms or tormentas. If I were to describe November in 5 words, I would use the following: rain, no school, parades, & rain. In fact, it’s raining as I type up this new blog post. How unexpected.
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morning cafesito while we enjoy the rain
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my little angel
Let’s start where we last left off. Ah yes, my successful Halloween party. Well the following day my host kids came over and helped me take down the decorations, many of which they ended up keeping. Very slyly they asked if I would throw another little party next Halloween, and I responded, “Dios primero, porque no?” Something really cool that I forgot to mention last time was that Jamie and Lily were a big help with the decorations. We spent hourssss making bats and pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, during which I told them what Halloween is like at home.
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Before diving into Panama’s Mes de la Partia, I should mention that the school band began practicing for the parades SINCE AUGUST. AUGUST! Every day at school, I would hear the kids playing instruments, while I organized/dusted the library books. Neighbors told me that in previous years the kids had to march during rain storms, and were soaked from beginning to end, orrrrr the sun was beating down on them, while sweat ran down their faces during the entire parade. I thought to myself, is there no medium? Poor kids, in addition to carrying around heavy instruments, and in the case of the girls, having to wear make-up, they had inconvenient weather to look forward to? Why not just cancel the parade to spare the kids? But then my neighbors enlightened me in telling me that the kids are very excited when they are chosen to participate in the parades, and that it’s something they look forward to all year long. Finally November 3rd arrived, and the weather was….(DUN DUN DUN) fine actually. There was a slight overcast so it was neither too rainy nor too sunny. It was, as always, very humid, so I made sure to pack my handy dandy green umbrella (which has finally reached its end). The day of the desfiles, I sported my very own, custom-made pollera blouse that was also painted with the traditional Ngäbe geometrical triangles. It was gifted to me by my host mom, just a few days before the parades started. I’m a little bummed I didn’t get many pictures wearing my pretty shirt, but I’ll be wearing it for future community events. The parade started in Cerro Sombrero and made its way down to the school, where the kids did a couple of presentations about the history of Panama, and it’s separation from Colombia.
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mi Jamie en su bella pollera!
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yes, that is my little Toby participating in the parade
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when you take your child to school, and you have to keep him from running around during the performances
There were a couple more parades in neighboring communities, and then I had visitors come over. Cherisse, Andrea and Bianca came to my site and we enjoyed lots of rain and cuddles with Toby and a neighboring pup. The pup was unfortunately run over a few weeks after, and it actually happened right in front of me, while coming back from pasearing. It was very sad, but in general no one was really affected or impacted by it. This is because dogs are very often hit by cars that are speeding down the carretera. Since the terrible event, I have started to take greater precautions with Toby. I’ve somewhat trained him since he was little, to run away from cars who are quickly approaching. I yell, “car” and he usually scoots out of the way. Eine sehr gut und schlaue hundlein, ich finde. Unfortunately, Toby has gotten some death threats recently because he barks at anyone who he isn’t familiar with, especially at night. Since then I’ve been training him with a leash which he absolutely loathes to be honest, but it’s been working! The main thing I’ve been trying to get him used to is being inside the porch before it gets darks, so roughy 6-6:30pm. Since moving into my own place, I have always gone into bed around 8, usually to watch movies, buuuuut the minute we go inside, Toby falls asleep. He then wakes up a 6am, which means I ALSO wake up at 6am. Yaaaaaaaay!
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Panamanian Holidays in November

November 3rd – Separation from Colombia/ Independence Day
November 4th – Symbols’ Day
November 5th – Colon’s Day
November 10th – Uprising of Los Santos
November 28th – Independence from Spain
aaaaaaand in December…
December 8th – Mother’s Day
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In addition to the multitude of holidays, Panama was also visited by Hurricane Otto. All PCVs were alerted to avoid travel and to stay in our sites if possible. Fortunately everything was fine in my site, even though it did get a bit boring being stuck inside the house for about 2 weeks. Right before the hurricane warnings arose, my host sister Juana and I traveled to Coclé for PML (Professional Management Leadership) (I think that’s what it stands for). PML was 3 days jam-packed with information about how counterparts can collaborate with volunteers for specific projects. The highlight of that week for me was hearing that my host sister has decided to go back to college and work towards her degree in IT. After PML, Lucy and I stayed at Vannessa’s beautiful house for a couple of nights and while we were too tired to cook the friends-giving meal we had planned, I still got a birthday cake so win! On my actual birthday my host family also surprised me with a dinner. My host kids came to my house around 5pm and as we approached their house, they started playing las mañanitas and when I finally got down to the house (remember that slippery hill), I danced with my host mom for a bit and then the kids sang me happy birthday and we enjoyed tonsssss of arroz con pollo. All of my host siblings surprised me with little presents, cards and candies and literally just melted my heart. As we were having dinner my host mom told me that even though it wasn’t the same as being with my own family in California, that I would always be welcomed in her house and that she would watch over me like a daughter. I felt so happy that night that I literally went to bed with a smile.
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one of the potential projects Juana and I brainstormed at PML
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my talented friends!
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mis amigas!
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your typical Panamanian birthday dish
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family selfie
The more I write, the more I’m realizing how out of order everything is. Scheiße! Ok so, the independence day parade was on November 3rd. The following Monday night, I was up aaaaaalllll night with stomach pains again and a raging headache. I called the PCMO the following morning and she said I would have to go to the hospital in David immediately. That Tuesday, however, was the day of my final English class so before heading to Tole, I went to my host sisters and asked them to please tell my students I wouldn’t be able to make it for heath reasons. On the busito to Tole I ran into one of my students and asked him to tell everyone I wouldn’t be there for the two following Tuesdays. (The next Tuesday I would be at PML). Well apparently that student didn’t share the information with the rest of the class because, they showed up both Tuesdays and were angry that I wasn’t there. I reached out to the class right after PML and one student told me they had all agreed they weren’t going to continue wasting their time and that they didn’t like being treated like kids and lied to. Obviously I was disappointed that the class ended on such a bad note but it wasn’t my decision to get sick. I’m going to continue offering English classes next year, and hopefully some of the same students attend because they all had a lot of potential.
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wash-your-floor-day
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my baaaaby!
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library selfies are the best selfies

Knock knock

-Who’s there?

-GASTRITIS

So yeaaaah, my stomach is currently just extremely sensitive to soon many things, including dairy products (tears). I’m on another treatment to control the acidic levels and prevent another gastric outbreak and it’s been an ok month so far. Yay for small victories! On a similar note, I had been experiencing some itchiness all over my body for about 2 months, so last week when I was in Panama City, I went to a lab and got a bunch of blood work done to find out what’s going on. Turns out I have allergic reaction to something but we don’t know what exactly so I will just have to take medicine for the remainder of my time in Panama to treat the allergy.
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wash-your-clothes-and-break-a-nail-day
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paseando con Munda
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the storm’s a’coming
Oh my, this has felt like an eternal post but I’m almost reaching the end! PROMISE! 🙂
As inconvenient it was, Hurricane Otto fortunately cleared up in time for my Thanksgiving celebration! I invited a couple of kids to my house for a Thanksgiving day lunch. We had mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and ham sandwiches. I have no pictures of the food because it was gone pretty quickly but I realized I made waaaay to much food, since half of the kids got full pretty soon. Oops. After the meal, we did a couple of arts and crafts, and I also read a story to the kids about the creation of Thanksgiving and how my family and I usually spend the day. It was a really fun day, and helped with the homesickness I felt that day. My favorite part of the day was hearing what all the kids are thankful for, which was mostly their families and their health.
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Last week I traveled to Panama City to receive a TOT (training other trainers) in order to help facilitate tech week for the next group of volunteers arriving in February. I honestly got the coolest week because I’ll be hanging out with Jordan, Walker and Gabby when I’m not working. My main responsibility for tech week will be to explain to the trainees the university activity they will create. I’m also going to observe a handful of trainees when they co-teach with their counterparts for the week. The TOT was only 2 days, and then I spent the rest of the week at the labs and at the dentist. Jordan, Cherisse, Bianca, Andrea, Gabby and I went out a couple of nights and it was so much fun! We even got to see JLo in drag 🙂 This week I’ve just been hanging out at home, pasearing, reading, spending quality time with Toby before going home for the holidays! Too many feels! eeeeeeeee!
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Last but not least, and especially because one of my favorite holidays just passed, I wanted to compile a list of all of the things I’m thankful for this year! By the time I’m able to upload this post I will have spent roughly 10 months in Panamá! How crazy is that?! So here goes, all the things I’m grateful for…. 🙂
I’m thankful for:
  • my host mom, Munda
  • each and everyone of my host siblings
  • my beautiful little Toby Woby woo
  • my house!
  • PCMOs because they are alwayssss there to listen to my medical needs – MVPs
  • my fellow TELLS volunteers – tell’emmmmmm
  • all the support that I’ve received from my loved ones
  • the truly-made-with-love hard drive Wolfie put together for me – love you bae
  • all the kids at my school who made me feel welcomed right away
  • further opportunities to contribute to my beautiful little community, Alto Caballero

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petting a baby deer 🙂

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when I took Munda out for lunch to celebrate Mother’s Day 🙂

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our picture is now hanging in the PC office 🙂

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happy holidays! Smell you next year 🙂
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