Central America | Panama – Mango season
I did not end up beating Paul to Chami, but ended up running into him in San Felix and traveling to Chami together, and I apologized for not having the materials ready for the charla. But I was so surprised when I arrived, to find Albercio had actually collected the stuff- leaves, ash, horse and cow poop- stuff for making compost. And I had only mentioned it to him once! Albercio is so cool! He’s very motivated.
The charla went great. Only about 15 people showed up, but that was a good number, and everyone got involved making compost and a raised bed garden. Albercio, Florencio, Balbina, Ramon were very active. Senayda is so shy, she hid behind my house the whole time, but I saw her keep popping her head out, and scribbling down notes in her notebook. When the day was over, I had a garden! We planted cucumbers and radishes in the garden, lettuce and tomatoes in a bibero. And the people were happy because I distributed seeds that had been donated.
Senayda is also very motivated. She is a beautiful Ngabe women, a single mom with more kids than I can keep track of. They are all sweet and shy and polite like her. She asked me if I would help her get her garden started, on the 23rd. I said of course. So that morning I went, and saw she already had the cutest nursery started for the seeds. She hardly needed me. Good thing, because I am no garden expert.
The next day Trisha and I were supposed to work on the Home Health Seminar, and it was also Ryan’s despedida. So, the 23rd, after I said goodbye to Senayda and was ready to bajar around 11am. And I waited. Not a single car went by, not uphill or downhill. And I waited. Then it was 3pm, then 5pm. And I kept waiting. This is crazy! Usually in the dry season, there are tons of chivas! There are always tons of chivas when I don’t have to go anywhere! The day I have to travel there is nothing! It was dark when a mercancio truck finally went downhill. They are not for passengers, they sell goods to stores. But I flagged it down, and they let me hop in back. I sat on a plastic box they use for pop bottles, and it was a bumpy ride down to San Felix. But I got there, by 10pm, and the ride was free! I went straight to bed.
The next morning I went to check my messages, and my cell phone was gone! I tore my chakra apart looking for it, but it was gone. It had obviously fallen out in the mercancio truck! I know it is silly to be so dependent on a cell phone, especially in the Peace Corps, but I was panicked. I didn’t know anyone’s number, they were all in my phone! All the contacts for the Home Health seminar, everyone! I couldn’t even call Trisha to tell her I would be late meeting her! I tried to relax and think of how I could get a new one, find everyone’s number again.
But I thought I may as well look for the phone. I thought my only hope would be to run into that truck again. So I walked to the piquera and asked around. People there said they knew who it was. Pipo, they called him, and he lived by the police station. So I walked to the other side of town, and almost as soon as I recognized the truck, a women yelled, ‘Pipo, the muchacha is here for her celular!’ and she yelled for me to come in. And they gave it back! What great people! I coulnd’t believe how lucky I was, in the end, my phone was missing only a few hours!
Luckily, like me, Trisha didn’t want to spend forever working on the Seminar, so we worked a couple hours on the computers in David, and then headed to Las Lajas! It was Ryan’s despedida, he leaves the country May 15th. It was a beautiful day on the beach, but always so sad when a good friend leaves.
It is also mango season. The mangos are so good here, it is reason enough to live in Panama. Avacado season, too. the fruit just falls from the trees! We’ve been eating so many mangos and avacados lately.
In next couple days, there was a Ngabe language training session in David, and then on the 27th, Mike and I were giving a charla in Chami for the School Health Seminar. This seminar was for all the teachers in my district. I went to those Ngabe classes, and Mike was supposed to go. But he was gone the second day. Afterwards, at Hotel Toledo, where volunteers always stay, he said he was really sick, but he would definately still help with the charla.
We had a free ride arranged by my health center, all the way from David to Chami! Unfortunately, to get to Chami in the morning, they were picking us up at Hotel Toledo at 5am! As if getting up at 4:30 in the morning wasn’t bad enough, when I turned on the light, there was a note under my door. This cannot be good, I thought, and it wasn’t. The medical office was keeping Mike at least another 24 hours, he had giardia, he said. Terribly sorry, he said. Then, the ride was really late, so I could have slept much longer. I got to Chami, on a couple hours of sleep, and only with my part, not Mike’s. So it was a short charla, but for some reason, the teachers liked it. I showed them activities you could do to teach environmental health in the class room. I was so tired, tho, I think sometimes my Spanish was so bad I could see them looking confused like they couldn’t figure out what I was saying. O well. Then Daniel Rodriguez wanted to talk about doing a PDM in Chami and Eugenio wanted to talk about latrines and everyone wanted to hear what new things I learned in the Ngabe language class. Finally, I got a wonderful free lunch from the health center, and took the best nap I think I’ve ever taken.