This past week I got my first chance to visit the site that I’ll be living at for the next two years. You can read more about my site at the blog post here and see the pictures that accompany this post here. All day Thursday we had presentations with our community guide in Panama City and then left early Friday morning for our sites. It was a 3 hour bus ride and then about a 20 minute slightly difficult, but not too difficult walk, into the community. I stayed the first week with my guide but will be moving in with a host family when I return next week.
We spent the rest of the day lounging around on Friday, and then Saturday morning we got to work. Each day from Saturday on was pretty much structured the same. My host family would wake up before I did, probably around 6am and I followed at about 7am. We would eat breakfast, shower, get ready, and by 8am we would be off for the day’s work. Hard work would be done straight through until 1pm, at which point we would return home for lunch and spend the rest of the day relaxing.
Our activity for Saturday afternoon was pasearing in the community. Pasearing is Spanglish word that generally means to walk from house to house, stop and talk for a bit, possibly have a quick snack or drink, and then move on to the next house. This is the foundation for many of the relationships I will develop over the next two years. Our community was rather small and we were able to pasear almost the entire community in four hours. Their Spanish accent is very different from where I am staying now and I was barely able to communicate. Thankfully, I have an amazing guide and he did all of the explaining for me. After this time we returned home to relax for the rest of the day.
Originally this relaxing drove me nuts and the first two days I was out of my mind with how much free time I had. After the second day though, I completely flipped my perspective and am grateful to have it. The first two months in the country have been completely nonstop and in my free time, I made a list of all the things I could do once I got to site and now I have the time to do those things! I managed to finish a book and a half while there, worked on Spanish, wrote lots of stuff, swam in the lake, and relaxed and did nothing.
The second day was church followed by a water committee meeting where again, my guide was awesome, and presented all the information he had learned in Panama City to the community. I gave a little introduction about myself but I didn’t understand about anything the other community members said which was rough. However, the meeting in general seemed to be a success and the community is glad to have me.
Monday afternoon we went and checked out the local school and health center. Both were places I had, by chance, visited during my first tour of a volunteer’s site and the volunteer joined me for the day. I got to meet all the teachers and students in the school as well as the doctor who works in the community. There is also another volunteer who just started working on a farming project at the school and I hope to help him with that when the time comes.
Tuesday, my last day in the community, we got to tour the water system. This trip took almost three hours to tour both water systems but was well worth it. I finally got the chance to understand what I’ll be working on for the next two years. I’m excited to get back to start working on it.
And that was my trip to my community. I left early Wednesday morning back to my host family community.