Monday, March 24, 2008


We had our quarterly fiesta Saturday. This was our second one. We started them because Julio was coming and helping with seminars, projects, and everything else and he wanted to have a day where everyone who was working so hard could come together just to have fun and spend time together. The first one was good and this one was even better. They built the rancho in the first picture the day of the event. That is not how they build them if they want them to last a long time but they use that style when they just need shade during the summer time. They are planning to build a permanent one though. Lee and I made the piñata. Around these parts we call him Esponga Bob.
The second picture shows Lee almost winning the sack race. Can you believe the altitude of that hop? He says that if he would not have relaxed a little in the middle of the race he would have won. Julio is really competitive though... We will have to wait 3 months for the rematch.
And the 3rd picture shows me being the M.C. Don´t you think that someone with Spanish as a first language would have been a better choice? I was a little nervous but I think it went well. I had a little help from the menacing figure lurking behind the bushes. He is not really menacing. It just sort of looks that way from the photo. He is actually the father(Severiano, I know, the name seems kind of menacing too...) from our 3rd host family. He wanted me to narrate the smashing of the piñata too. He would tell me to say things like: The piñata no longer has feet. It sounds better in Spanish. The other guy in the photo is Eugenio. The violin that he played was made in a nearby community. He taught himself to play it.
We also had a decima singer, a harmonica player, a salomar contest, and a guy who sang and played guitar. The decima is a type of song that you hear a lot here in Panama´. It has a certain type of rhythm and there are rules about the rhyme scheme. They can be prewritten or improvised. Victoriano improvised and Lee and I got our names mentioned. Also, there are certain guitar stylings that have to accompany the singer. One of them is called Storm of the Rooster. I think they are also supposed to use the mejorana (sort of like a guitar) for this too but we did not have one. Also, the singer should be wearing a sombrero pintado. We just learned that that is very important.
Salomaring is a type of call that is sort of like a cross between the scream when that cartoon coyote falls of a cliff, yodelling, and the noises people make when they are trying to move large farm animals like cows or horses. It is one of my favorite things about Panamanian culture. The first person salomars and the second person answers by trying to match the first one. It is actually pretty hard to describe. You just have to come to Panama´to experience it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


It was a big day for Lee. He got to see where the magic happens. For those of you who do not know, when we were in the states he would go through a gallon of milk in 2 or 3 days sometimes. He loves it. We both got to help milk the cows. Olgin, Maggie´s counterpart, has a model farm and it was really nice to see such healthy, happy cows. Some of the ones in our site are pretty skinny... He said that they get about 2 liters a day from the cows in the dry season and around 4 per day in the rainy season.

World Map

Lee and I visited another volunteer´s site in the province of Herrera to make a map of the world on the wall of her school. The first picture shows Maggie(the other volunteer) and Lee.
Herrera is very different from Cocle´. It is almost completely deforested so it is a lot hotter and drier. Almost everyone there has cows and horses. It actually looks and feels more like Alabama. The people are very friendly. There are a lot more tall people there. There gritas are different but I think I earned some respect for attempting to do it their way. We got to see cantadoros singing decimas with the mejorana. There are too many Spanish words in that sentence that need explanations. Let´s just say that we got to hear some awesome Panamanian music. After the cantadoros there was a band that played typico, cumbias, etc.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Canal

This is a cruise ship, along with about a hundred smaller boats, passing through the south end of the canal. You can see it better if you click on it to enlarge it. The huge ships can pass through one at a time but the little ones have to wait and go through with a big ship because it is not worth it to operate the locks for small ships. I read somewhere that some ships pay more than $100,000 to pass through the canal. I think it is based on weight.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The House

This is a video that Lee took of the house and the yard. The thatch-roof house is the kitchen and the other one is the bedroom/everything else. It is not a long video but it may make you motion sick. You will have to turn your head to the side at some point when the camera goes on its side.