Central America | Panama – Giant grasshoppers and chiva crashes, part II
So lately, I have been on a health kick. There have been lots of vegetables available in Chami, lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers. All organic of course, and grown here. And I even been sqeezing oranges and lemons, making fresh juice and lemonade. (I admit I add lots of sugar.) And I’ve been doing yoga in the evenings, on a mat on my dirt floor, with my kerosene lamp lit.
So there I was all relaxed after dinner, doing yoga, sitting on my mat, leaning forward, with my forehead against the mat. Imagine my horror when there was a huge thud and scurrying of legs on my mat inches from my head! I just about jumped out of my skin! A giant grasshopper! It was back! Okay, this one wasnt huge, only as big as my hand, but I couldnt get away fast enough. I then grabbed a shoe, and pounded on it, and to add to my horror, nothing happened! Beating it with my flip flop did nothing! Somehow I managed to open my door and scoot it out, totally alive and unhurt. No more yoga that night, relaxing was not possible.
The next night, I was again by the light of my kerosene lamp when it went out, from the wind. I burned my fingers on the hot glass, taking the cover off, then dropped my matchbox on the floor, sending matches flying everywhere, and I had to feel around for them on the dirt floor in the dark. Oh, the joy of being in Peace Corps!
For some reason I no longer get cell phone reception by the Centro de Salud where I used to, so I hiked all around one day, trying to get a signal. I finally found one on a beautiful point on the way uphill to Cerro Flores. And good thing I checked messages. It was Monday. Ryan left a message saying they had set up a meeting with MINSA, the Ministerio de Salud, for Wednesday, regarding the Home Health Conferences. So I would have to bajar Tuesday, to be in San Felix Wednesday morning at 8am.
So I packed and went down Tuesday. But close to Oma, something was obviously wrong. People were everywhere, Ngabe people obviously traveling, women in nagwas, cargo strewn everywhere on the road. People not looking happy. Our driver stopped to ask someone, who explained how a too-heavy chiva was climbing the steep gravel section of the road outside Oma, lost its grip, and rolled downhill! Lots of people were hurt, and the really bad ones were taken to the hospital. Then we proceeded on, and I saw the chiva! The cab was smashed! The roof was dented in and the windows broken out. The rolls bars on the back were almost flattened onto the bed of the truck! I wanted to cry. This is my main form of transportation? This is ridiculous! For a few hours I decided I was switching sites. No other volunteers I knew were risking their lives whenever they entered or left their sites!
I arrived at Andre’s, in San Felix, where Katie was. She was working on getting materials up to Salto Dupi to improve their aquaduct. I told her the story, and she thought it was wierd, that happened by Ryan’s site recently, too, a chiva rolled. Wow, and Ryan has a good road and the village is pretty accessible. Okay, I guess I had nothing to complain about, other people do have to deal with it.
I went to the MINSA meeting the next morning with a couple other volunteers who are working on the conference on the Bocas side or the cordillera. It was kind of frustrating, because the MINSA workers talked so fast in Spanish, and kept laughing and making jokes, but in the end, after a couple hours, I felt like we got a lot accomplished. I went on to try to send an email to the volunteers on my side of the cordillera, but had problems with the computer. I kept getting an error message. Oh, the joy of working in a developing country. But I had to send it. In all, it took about three hours before I got it sent, and in the meantime, had missed all the chivas to Chami (not that I was excited about getting on a chiva), and stayed another night in San Felix. But I was happy that I did get to buy a big barrel to store water in, a big red one, for most of the day when I dont have water in my faucet. And that brought me up to March 15th, 6 months in site. Whoa, what happened to month five? It flew by! I am in Chami for 2 years, and one quarter is done!