So let´s see. I have been working in this sticky situation with my youth group. Basically I had this grand idea of going on a trip to Coiba Island which is the World Heritage Site which is right off the coast from where I am in Panama. It has protected virgin forests, crazy amounts of wildlife (including guacamaya and other endemic species), and supposedly fantastic scuba and snorkeling in its reefs. Plus, despite being so close, no one from my town practically has seen it! What a pity! And me being the fearless leader of an environmental youth group, and this will take a fearless one to deal with this situation I`ve created, what a better place to go. First problem is that it is expensive to go. But we do have some funds for the group and since I am dying to go, I thought I would pitch in as well. But not all of our 20 plus kids can go because only about half will fit in one boat and contracting another is WAAY out of budget. So, I am left with the pickle of how to decide who goes. Yes, I have thought of having a point system, like good old Kristi Houk would do, you gotten earn your way. However, in this scenario, there are several members who go to school outside of the community and would not be able to participate in all the activities due to cost of transportation. So, points don’t work, because we’d say that these kids would pay a ¨fee¨ for their absence but then everyone would just pay the fees for all the events and everyone would remain with the same amount of points! Oh yes, they are that tricky, they’re teenagers. SO…I made them vote if they thought that we should still go, EVEN THOUGH, all of them would not be going. The idea was for each to think if he or she doesn’t go, will they be upset and quit the group, send their mom or dad to yell at me or talk behind my back (all of which will happen none the less, despite my precautions). They voted yes. Yikes. So now, I am sending a note to the parents with the date of the drawing of the names (because they know and believe in the system of drawing from a hat) and a note saying if they have any questions or concerns, to speak now or forever hold your peace POR FAVOR! We’ll see. But it is exciting because if it does work out, which many obstacles still remain, then Ariel will come along for this wild ride! Could be good. Ohh, the trials of youth work.
Other projects have been arranging a leadership workshop for the youth group in 2 weeks with members of another more ´senior´ group close to Santiago who will come to do the workshop. I’m very excited about this one and think it will be very beneficial for the group! Elsewhere, I have been painting some signs to hang up giving direction to visitors of where the restaurant is. And also, giving support in consulting with ANCON, a Panamanian organization for conservation which has several small business owners in my town which have ecotourism projects. This means looking at their cabañas and seeing what a tourist would see or see lacking or with a store owner putting together some figures to show progress for the donor’s sake.
English classes for me start this week and my computer trainers have set our date to work together.
Funny little story…or maybe just funny to Panamanians. I went to my friend Ramona’s store to buy a pound of rice and she puts it in the bag and hands it to me. I look and it is chock full of ants! Now I’m one who’s used to eating ants by now, but that should happen in my house when they are looking for food, not from the start! So I tell her I’m demanding another pound without ants (jokingly, of course). She laughs and I tell her since there is nothing to eat (meaning chicken or meat in the store)she was just trying to round out the deal to make a full meal, you know, with some good ole protein. And if this isn’t funny to you, you haven’t been to panama then because oh man how the couple onlookers in the tienda howled at this one. I honestly still think that they are surprised every time that I make a joke and laugh out of surprise that I can indeed be funny in their language! But it sure does feel good to be witty (or some version of it) again. It is hard to lose that for a time while trying to figure out the nuances of a culture and its humor. But…I’m back in the game!!!
p.s. people are always asking me what they can send...i came up with something which is novels, what you have read and enjoyed because there is always a moment of hammock time. also since i was in the states and bought a portal dvd player, movies but sadly they canNOT be burned because it knows about those and doesn`t read them, so originals only. they can be super old or whatever, but as rainy season approaches I would love to see a movie on a rainy day trapped in the hut! if not, i`ll be okay. these are for me. things that the children always enjoy are games, cards like UNO (which has been sent and now lost) and other such travel games or coloring books. you wouldn`t believe how much they play with these simple things! Thank you all for all you have done and all you will do. If anyone happens to send a package, if you could send me an email so that I can be looking for it, it will get to my hands faster. Thanks! Happy Earth day, a day late!