Saturday, June 26, 2010

I'm sitting in an airport...

So, the next two weeks of my stay in Panama are pretty much vacay. I am waiting for my friend Camille to arrive tonight, we are going to an island, and she will be here until Wednesday. Thursday and Friday I have more condom talks. Sunday (I believe) is Amanda's Panamanian bachelorette party. Monday I am back in Panama City for my parents' arrival which well last until Friday of that week. Ha.

But really, I have some experiences in Panama, I swear. Proof:

I call this my classic third world picture (thanks Amanda).

So, I took a bus from Chitre to Panama City. Its the same thing I took the opposite way when I got here. However, this time I took it with a person who works for Amanda, and is from PC. On the way, knowing I planned to take a bus to the airport (1 dollar vs. 20) he tried to talk me into taking a ride with his friends for 30 bucks both ways. In comparison to a taxi both ways, this really is a good deal. However, taking only a taxi to the hostel and a dollar bus here is 21 dollars. In my broke ass head my way makes more sense. He was clearly only looking out for me. He kept telling me how dangerous PC is and when we got to the terminal he ran into a friend who said the same thing without prompting. But by this point I was severely frustrated. I asked him what part of my plan was so dangerous. I had been to the airport at night. I had cabbed to a hostel. I had stayed in a hostel. I had bussed to the terminal (the same terminal for distance busses as the airport we are leaving from tomorrow) and I had successfully navigated the terminal. He told me yes, but you did that with Amanda. NO I DID NOT! I DID IT SOLA!!!! AMANDA WAS IN CHITRE!!! Is the bus the issue. I am not afraid of the bus. I am going four hours early because I want to take the bus during the day, not at night. I am being smart about this. So, he took me to the bus, literally stuck me in the first seat, told the driver where I needed to go, asked how much, took my phone number and gave me his, and told me to call him when I arrived. I REALLY REALLY REALLY appreciate the consideration, but I also have this side of me that wants to DO IT MYSELF! Anyway, I made it to the airport in one piece and am now chilling in the restaurant upstairs (the only place with free internet) drinking wine to pass the time while I wait for Camille.

I also went to some random rural island that I had to walk in muck and take a mini boat to get to, and also to Contadora (but with a massive headache), and to Las Minas to a rural rural school for a picture day. I have pictures posted here:!/album.php?aid=2912236&id=13905659 and will do my best to hold myself accountable to updating on that!!!

Worst. Blogger. Ever.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

About the Monkeys and Stuff

So, I guess stuff isn't a good enough description of Panamanian countryside. I will do my best to describe a beautiful picture for you all to enjoy!!! So, we drove out to a little community, not a town, but a conglomeration of houses. They were open puertas, no doors, and at Abuelo's house random chickens kept wandering through the house as we sat on the porch. Upon leaving, he gave Amanda a bag of eggs...and an avocado (I think) and some mangoes (which are eeeeverywhere here). So on the way out there, we drive past all this picturesque tropical forest, stop and get out to peer at the monkeys. I'm really bad at zoos (I know Rebecca is a rockstar at them) but they are cute little creatures, with the baby on back thing going on. And it was pretty cool that they were in these gorgeous tropical trees. I think I had a stronger impression in the community. So tranquil. After my father's decision not to visit Chitre when he comes to Panama next month (even though I explained to him that there IS in fact a KFC here) because he is afraid to get on a bus that might have passangers carrying chickens (again, dad, this isn't a movie about Mexico), it was fun to watch the chickens wander about. I mean, they're around in Chitre, too, in the yard sometimes, as are the random horses tied to the gate at the school now and then, but given the more developed layout of Chitre (compared to the campo, I suppose) some of these things strike a different chord. Random! Also, an guy had a bunch of hand carved shallow bowls used for sorting rice at his home. They cost like three bucks. Talk about undervaluing your work. "How long does that take?" "Oh, about a day for each." Three dollars. Are you kidding me?

I hope that is an adequate elaboration, Rebecca and Trina, on my "monkey's and stuff" comment. I will leave you with a photo of Abuelo:

Tell me he isn't adorable.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I'm not a big blogger. But I figure, down the road, I will be happy to read through my experiences.

I'm 24. That happened.

I went to a show in Panama. It was like battle of the bands. While it wasn't the best music I've ever heard, I do love a good show.

Amanda is getting married. She goes back to Montana next month for a US reception and then gets married here when she returns. Bachelorette parties aren't so common here, but we're having one. Not only are we having one, we are having one with the women at the brothel. Seriously. Be jealous.

I spent a good little chunk of my birthday eve exchanging songs with translated lyrics to a friend here. Watts would be proud. There is a video for The First Day of My Life with Spanish Subtitles on youtube. This progressed into a spur of Conner Oberst's lovely words, which may or may not be as beautiful in Spanish, but that happened, too.

I saw some monkeys and stuff. We went out to the campo to see Franklin's grandfather (significantly different than Chitre--think lots of free range chickens and lots of greenery). Anyone who has heard my talk about my great grandmother who passed in September knows that I think she is the sweetest person I've ever met. If there could be a male equivalent to how cute she was, it's Franklin's grandfather. I wish my Spanish were better, so that I could really talk to him more.

So, the brothel tends to depress me. But not terribly, just something each time. I absolutely love the women, though. They are so nice, most from Colombia (in fact only one is Panamanian) and have to work a ton. I talked to a girl about her boyfriend. She's 21, Colombian, and has a boyfriend here. I want to ask more questions about their lives, but don't want to pry too much. I've still got a good few weeks left to visit, and I'm sure I will learn more.

Sometimes we have to take a cab to the Flourida (brothel) because someone else is using the car. This is always fun. The cab driver looks at us...two young white girls...and asks again, just to verify. Its just outside of Chitre, in a town called La Arena. It might be a mile from the office...actually I have no idea, but its not a bad walk. However, we have to walk past a construction site, and it is always hilarious. There is a stark difference in dress when we go to the brothel vs. the high schools. At the high schools we have to wear pants and sleeves. When we go to the brothel, its relief because we can put on shorts and a tank top and know that we will still be wearing more than most of them. But when we walk back, I kid you not, the hissing, I love yous, and halting, beeping cars is absurd! Last Friday in particular. Amanda, who is used to living here and the remarks that are frequently directed toward (especially) white women, was so taken aback that she exclaimed: "What! Are we naked?!" Okay, so that is the best line of my trip so far.

Woo! 24.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Soliciting guidance in this troubling time...

I realized today that my birthday marks my halfway point in Panama. Weird. Smack dab in the middle of my time in Chitre, I...dun, dun, dun...age. Eff. I prepared for 23 for two months so that I wouldn't experience the trauma of 22. Ok, but today, I lost part of my face ring, which I knew needed to come out eventually, but was thinking 25 was an appropriate time. So, today I 1st came to terms with my face au natural and 2nd admitted to myself that I am 25. Shut up. Thats what this means. I turned 25 today. Now, I hope to live to be a great grandmother (well, or something of the sort), so I need to find a better way to come to grips with my age. But seriously, I'm afraid of khakis and polos and loafers. I like young. I want to be old. I think I go through my quarter-life crisis annually. Well, for the past three years at least. And I'm sure I have a handful more to come.

So. Advice. Por favor. How do I age without flipping out? Gracias.

Tambien, this is the song I hear 8 times a day. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

But Debbie, You're in Panama...

Yes, AT, I am ridiculously excited about this game. I am streaming game six of the Stanley Cup finals on my computer live (by live, I mean with a mere minute delay). I have been a devoted hockey fan. Since arriving in Panama, I believe I have heard at least a part of every game but two (easy when I'm in the same timezone I was in LR). Definitely cheering for a Flyers win tonight. There are few things I enjoy as much as a good game seven. Especially the last game seven of the season.

Yes. I know I am in Panama. And I love being in Panama. I can't imagine a better IPSP experience. However, my time in Panama will leave me, but I trust that hockey will be in my life forever. So here I sit. On my new sheets (Mama Petra surprised me with lovely new floral sheets tonight when I got home) in my fort room (will explain fort room later) listening to the most intense time in an NHL season. LOVE IT!

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Revelation. I am white. No shit. Men of ChitrĂ© have made that very clear. No, they don't call me "blanquita." They call me "mi amor" and tell me, "I love you" when I walk past. It's like when you go running, and you pass a house with a dog in the fenced in back yard. It's fenced for a reason--the dog has this natural tendency to chase and bark at things/people that pass. That's what it’s like when I walk past a restaurant or some group of men here. I get hisses, whistles, mi amors, que bonitas, and I love yous. Once in a while a "vamos a mi casa." It’s not because I'm anything to look at, other than white. I have worn make up three times in the three weeks I've been here. I wear my hair back in a ponytail and a headband holds my hair off my enormous forehead. I took a picture one day when I passed a particularly obnoxious group of what I was wearing, but for some reason my computer is rejecting my camera today. Description, though, is cargo-esque green shorts to my knees, a beater tank top, my satchel bag, sandals, sunglasses, and the aforementioned hair-do. No makeup. Hot and smelly. Everything any man ever dreams of. Today I am working in the NIDA office. There is a restaurant across the street. Having eaten something fishy (or something) last night, I needed to get food to replenish around lunch, and decided to walk to the store. It may have been my hunger, the fact that I don't feel the greatest today, the heat, that it was truly more obnoxious than usual, or any combination of these, but when the dogs barked, I took the liberty of lifting that pretty little finger of mine. (I have seen Amanda do the same, and given the time of day I didn't feel it was too risky.) Public Service? Well, I think it would be one if someone could tone down the machismo half a notch.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Torrential Downpour

I am in Panama during the rainy season, but this year was an el nino year, I'm told, so my first couple of days here were spent in grueling, unforgiving heat.

Since about day three, there has been rain nearly everyday. It lasts about twenty minutes, and pours from the sky. I love it. The temperature drops like 5 degrees afterward. And on really lucky nights, like last night, the rain falls for an extended period of time. It is cooler outside today than it is in the house (okay, thats an everyday thing, too, since there is no A/C and houses tend to heat with the day, but the difference is quite dramatic today). Anyway, as I write this it is pouring outside and there is no more beautiful sound to me this summer.

Also! Yesterday went back to the bar and met with the girls. It was an amazing experience. It started slow, and they weren't terribly receptive at first, but there were only like two missing for a voluntary session, and about a half hour in they were asking plenty of questions and engaging in the conversation. I learned some crazy things that some people do, and there is a reason for this work. I worried they wouldn't care or were already well versed, but there is plenty to do and they were interested in meeting again. Next Tuesday I have only a half hour but am excited, knowing now 1. that they are receptive, and 2. some specific issues they may want to know more about.

I am now awaiting the opening of a hamburger joint next to the office. (yay!!) I will compensate by visiting the gym that opened yesterday for a little martial arts with Amanda. (fingers crossed)

I almost fainted at the vet today. This would have been a better post if I had, but instead I sat down and waited for it to pass. Sorry guys.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Dear Judy Watts,

I present to you my latest work:

This was obviously done with a good amount of wine (it would be blasphemous if my Cab were not invited to the party), and remembering how great our music selections can be with art, thought it absolutely necessary to post this along with my creation:

Hope you enjoy!!!