Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Advance Cleaning

This is the kind of toothpaste that Lee likes and he can´t find it here in Panama. Our favorite thing to get from people is letters but if anyone feels like sending a little something with a letter you could get a bigger envelope and drop a tube of toothpaste in there and I know Lee would greatly appreciate it.


This is a baby hummingbird. They said that the egg she hatched out of was about the size of a jelly bean. We see hummingbirds just about every day but this was the first time I had ever seen a nest.

Los Patronales

In Panama most or all towns have a patron saint. Ours is San Antonio de Padua. Every saint has his or her day of the year. The nine days leading up to this day are called the novena and they have church in a different part of town every evening leading up to the big day. On the big day they have church in the morning and activities the rest of the day. For us the next activity was the feria. The first picture shows all of the fruits, vegetables, and other produce that people brought to sell at the feria. This was the nicest one we have seen in our community. Usually they all show up with their stuff in bags and then they just pass them back and forth because they know who wants what and then everything is gone and Lee and I are left trying to figure out what just happened. This time we could tell when it had started and Lee got up there in time to get some avacados and a papaya.

This is the after picture. Everything was sold, even the bananas and platanos that were left hanging
After the feria there is a little parade through the center of town. They were really excited that we were taking pictures of it because they have never had pictures of it before so we are going to print some out for them.

Santa Fe

We just finished a series of seminars in a town called Santa Fe. We did 3 days of Leadership and Project Management, 3 days of accounting, marketing, and contracts, and 3 days of farm planning market analysis, quality control, etc. There were 2 weeks between each 3 day chunk. The last afternoon we had a little closing ceremony where we presnted gifts to the people who had helped make it happen. Lee was asked to paint bateas and a gourd instrument. As usual, everyone was very impressed with his work.

The first picture is of the hostel where the Peace Corps facilitators stayed each week. We also used a rancho on the property as the classroom.

The second set is the coffee made by the coffee beneficio in Santa Fe.

The final one is a gourd that has a ridged part and comes with a fork-like thing with long skinny tines that you rub across the ridged part for rhythm. The band is called Conjunto Folklorico Benjamin Rodriguez. They played at a culture night that we had the first week and the afternoon of the closing ceremony. Some of them had made their own instruments. In the background of this picture you can see how they do their floors sometimes. That is just cement but on the top layer they make it smooth and add colors. I have seen green, red, and yellow.

This is Lee dancing the cumbia at the closing ceremony. Dancing and music are a big part of the culture here in Panama. If you had lived in Panama for a year you would dance the cumbia too. Everyone just moves in a circle dancing with the man on the inside and the lady on the outside so she will have room to swing her skirt like the lady on the far left. Every couple of minutes the music changes up and then it is time to spin and revolve around your partner. Then it settles back to shuffling in a circle. Lee is also wearing the awesome baseball hats that we had made for the seminar. It has the Peace Corps logo and a logo that Lee created for the agribusiness program.

The Comarca (Reservation)

We went to a feria (a farmer´s market plus other activities) in Stephanie´s site and then we hiked to Nate´s site. This is a view from the hike. I wish I could say that our destination was where the sun´s rays are falling but it was not. The hike to Nate´s site is 2 hours like ours. He is at a higher altitude and there are fewer trees. He lives in the Ngobe-Bugle reservation. These indigenous groups used to live in the Azuero region but the fled to the highest mountains after the arrival of the conquistadores.
This is Lee with Nate and some of the kids in front of Nate´s house. Nate told the little boy to act like he was punching Lee.

Nate´s gas tank had run out a few days before we arrived so we made little camp fires outside to cook over. We made a mixture of rice, raman noodles, beans, soya, etc. and fried eggs for supper. We made pancakes from scratch for breakfast.

This is Stephanie with one of her friends These are the dresses that the Ngobe women and girls wear. They come in all colors but they are all the same design. Oh, and they are looking at pictures they just took on the digital camera. People here love to do that.

June 22 and classic Lee

Lee and I celebrate birthday eve´s now so I got to go to my favorite restaurant in Panama, and possibly in the world, for my birthday eve. It is in El Valle de Anton about a 4 hour hike from where we live. From our site you can see the Mountains that line the crater where the town sits. We did not hike there though. We did the 2 hour hike and took chivas and buses. The food was amazing as always and I love the atmosphere there.
On my birthday morning we went to see one of the waterfalls. There is about a 5 minute hike to get there and they give you a walking stick so you do not slip on the rocks.
Birthday afternoon was at the beach. I love the beach rain or shine, cold or hot. I will let you guess whether Lee feels the same way or not. I took this picture on my way into the water. It was sprinkling and a little cool but the water was nice and warm. We ate supper at the restaurant behind Lee in this picture. The seafood was fresh and delicous like it usually is in Panama.

Here is the link to Lee´s blog. He takes good pictures and has an eye for things that are interesting, beautiful, and-or weird. Those of you who know Lee will not be surprised to find that his blog has fewer words than mine. By fewer I mean none other than the titles of the pictures. Classic Lee.

Mister Johnny and Sweet Pea?

We got 2 sweet little kittens from our closest volunteer, Melissa, who lives in Vaquilla. This is Lee holding them after their first night at our house. Melissa hiked them in. She carried them in a cat carrier in the rain. We thought she was not coming when it got dark and she had not arrived but it turns out the river had crested and she had to wait until it was safe to cross. Water was getting into the cat carrier so she started moving clothes from her backpack in there to help protect them from the rain. They survived the journey, all 3 of them, and the kittens were even okay with meeting our dog friends that night. Canela comes by a few times a day just to say hola and look for food. Oso comes and hangs out and usually spends the night on the porch when we are there. He is one of the best-fed dogs in Panama and we hardly ever give him any food. He just comes to hang out.
The kitties liked to sleep on Lee´s chair when they were still allowed in the quincha house.

They like sleeping on their food bucket too.

They were sleeping on the window sill yesterday. Above the window is a piece of zinc that Lee put up to cover the hole that the kitties were using to get in at night. Last night we only heard them bump into it one time and meow a little bit before they went to sleep.

The orange and black one is named Mister Johnny in honor of one of Lee´s former co-workers at Publix in Albany, Georgia. If anyone from Albany reads this can you pass along the story to him. Lee really enjoyed working with him and he still tells Mr. Johnny stories. Oh, she did turn out to be a girl though so we shorten it to Johnny most of the time. The other one with more white fur is a girl too but we are still working on her name. There are a few Spanish names still in the runnig but this would be a good chance to teach our community another English name. I have called her Sweet Pea a few times and that might stick... We´ll see. I was singing that song on the porch yesterday when Severiano came to visit. Lee saw him approaching and did not warn me so I turned around mid baw-chica-baw-chica-na-na-na to see Severiano arriving in our yard and laughing at me. It seemed appropriate though because we always laugh with him and his family. He laughed really hard later when we were explaining the postal system in the U.S. to him and Lee acted out how some of the rural delivery people sit on the right side of the car and put the mail in the boxes (which they do not have here) while driving with their left arm and left leg.

The Ambassador´s House

We went to a reception at the Ambassador´s house to celebrate 45 years of Peace Corps in Panama.

These first 2 pictures show the inside of the house. The first one is the room where we hung out by the food tables. They kept bringing out different kinds of delicious finger foods and they went fast. The second one is just an area where people were milling around. Just before the reception the new group had their swearing-in ceremony. There were about 50 new voluneers, the director of Peace Corps (worldwide), the Ambassador, a lot of RPCV´s (returned Peace Corps Volunteers) from the last 45 years, and a handful of current voluneers.

This is me with the Ambassador, William Eaton.

Then we have the fancy outfits. I had to get a dress because I did not have anything nice enough to wear. I even wore high-healed shoes for the first time in years. Lee is looking schnazzy in his picture with a Great Dane and a Chihuahua. We did not get any good pictures of the two of us the night of the reception so I put my outfit on the next morning for a picure. Lee did not so we will have to settle for this picure of Lee missing half his head featuring a comical pairing of dogs.