Despedida which means going away or take off in the case of an airplane is what we call a going away party and so last night and tonight we have 2 of them for volunteers who are completing their time in panama and leaving. Last night it was for our regional leaders, Sara and John, a couple, with all the veraguan volunteers. Dari and I went and we had a great time! I was so pleased that he so easily integrated into a very intimidating all English'speaking American group where he was the only Panamanian. But my fellow volunteers are also very gracious and considerate to talk to him, in spanish, to have him be included. We had a poolside toast of our leaving duo at a local hotel and then to a restaurant for some good grilled chicken and beef. There was a good size group of about 20 of us and it was great. Some went on to the disco but I was pooped and since I have another one tonight, dari and i went back to where he lives. So today I have traveled to the city where we will in a bit have the despedida for Trisha who was the coordinator of the HIV/AIDS efforts in panama and before that a regular volunteer like me. I have gotten to know her and we trade tales about the joys and trials of dating Panamanian, however, she is going to marry hers and they are in that trial of getting papers and visas together! yikes. But I have been happy to have been able to see a bunch of faces that it has literally been months and months, almost a year for some since i've seen them last. I have realized I needed to make a more concerted effort to meet up and participate with other volunteers since I was feeling a little out of the loop.
Life in madre vieja is good and I felt like a real campo man the other day. With my youth group we are going to make a seed bed for reforestation, so I went out one day last week and got the materials, or some of them. This consisted of taking my machete with pinkie, my dog, by my side and traipsing down my road to where i found some fairly straight limbs that I could hack off, while obviously leaving the tree growing. These will be the legs of the bed. Then to tie them together to carry, find a grass'like plant and bind them together and throw them over your shoulder (like a continental soldier...ahem, mom). I wasnt planning on it, but I came across my neighbor mariano who has stalks of bambu in his back yard and asked if i could cut some. I left the bara or wood pieces I had just cut and went for the bamboo. Climbing through the barbwire fence, I started cutting away at a stalk. Mind you, this is a good 40 foot long piece and at this point, I'm hoping I know what I'm doing and it doesn't fall on my head bc I am the only one around to yell timber if so! but it worked out, although I had to cut it in sections because it didn't have room to fall down as a whole. I felt super strong and very authentic while doing all this by myself. Later too, as this seemed to be my day of manual labor, another man in town said I could have some of the leftover pieces of a tree his group had cut down for wood siding. So I mosied over there and hauled it out on my shoulder once again. I'd like to say it didn't phase me to do all this, but the next day, the bone on the top of my shoulder was bruised and sensitive a bit. Guess I'm doing something wrong in the process. But it was fun and everyone always loves watching me do this stuff especially cause women don't really get into this type of work. Christy Crais, breaking the gender barriers one bamboo stick at a time!
My boss has now officially sent my partnership project to the states for approval in washington so be on the lookout in this journal if it gets approved for more details of how you can help. The project is in order to build a suitable and appropriate computer center, a basic room really, to have community members learn and teach basic computer skills and for children to have a study space after school. I am really praying for this to happen!
Happy Mother's Day to my mom and my grandmother tomorrow! Take care all and I hope to have more adventures to write of soon as next week ariel comes into town and old WAMS, SHOW antics will run wild in Panama!