It’s Charlotte and Gracie (of group phoenix) writing to you from outside the Buena Vida Language School in Pedasí. We just finished a delicious lunch that was well needed after a vigorous couple of hours of dancing.
We learned two traditional folkoric Panamanian dances, one called Viva Panama a type of cumbia. And the other one was la danesa poblana.
The women got to wear polleras, traditional skirts worn for dancing. Spanish classes are going very well. Yesterday we had an intense game of Scrabble in our group; shockingly the Spanish teacher of the bunch, Patricio, and his equally knowledgeable teammate Liam, reigned victorious.
One of our favorite activities so far has been working with Proyecto Ecológico Azuero. We helped build the foundation for a “maya,” a sheet that blocks the plants from the sun. We dug holes using various tools and stuck in wood from a “teca” tree.
During the digging process, we had to be careful not to hit any pipes because the electricity and water supply ran underground.
We did hit one water pipe and one of the people at the project had to come to our rescue. His name is Vicente Vasquez and he’s 17 like many of us. He helped us all day and was a welcome addition to our conversation. As it turns out, he’s a star! He competed on a Panamanian television show called Concurso Nacional de Oratoria and won! Some of our second celebrity sighting of the trip (the first being el Presidente). Here’s a link to the video that features Vicente, skip to 2:01:10 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22eDXiBQMig . After doing work out in the sun, we ate some banana cake and duros de coco and guyaba (frozen fruit juice sometimes made with milk.)
We continued our time with PEA by shelling seeds for beautiful trees that will be planted at a school. Overall, we LOVED our time with PEA. We were able to learn more about the agricultural and environmental conditions of the country. We are jumping for joy about returning on Tuesday!
Both of us are having a wonderful time in our homestays. I (Charlotte) have a host mother named Nina and father named Dago. Dago works as a fisherman and gives tours of the Isla Iguana. He said that one day he may be able to take all of us as a group, so we can see the beautiful scenery of the island. One of the highlights of spending time with my host family has been getting to play with their three year old niece named Jaciel. Dago jokes a lot that she is the age of a three year old but the size of a two year old because she is so tiny. I spend a lot of time sitting on their patio in the hammocks and talking to everyone.
I (Gracie) have a host mother named Janet, a host father named Omar, and two host siblings, Yarisel (9 years old) and Wilson (11 years old). Yarisel and Wilson have other siblings as well but they don’t live with their parents anymore. (One of their older brothers lives with their grandmother next door.) They have a dog named Princess and the tiniest kitten I’ve ever seen named Leti. There are also a few horses near the house, and I’ve watched some friends of my host family change their shoes. There are constantly friends and family in and around the house and I’ve loved talking to them all. I’ve also ridden bikes around the neighborhood with my host sister every night and visited friends and neighbors.
Both families offer us treats and new fruits to try, like guayaba, which has been fun and delicious. It turns out that Charlotte’s host mom, Gracie’s host dad, and Sarah S’s host dad are all siblings. On Thursday night, when we first arrived, our host families all took us to meet up and see the pigs they are getting ready to sell. We both saw the biggest pig we’ve ever seen. The piglets are very cute but smell… funky.
Overall, we’re both having an amazing time in Pedasí. We’re super excited to go to Achotines but also sad at the idea of leaving our host families. Les extraño! Hasta Pronto!