Archive for February, 2010

Two minutes!

in the internet cafe with two minutes left.  life is good.  went to kuna yala and hung out with the indigenous people while they celebrated their independence day.  one of the best days of my life.  more to come later.

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krazy kunas

So much to say and so little time. Im at an internet café at a mall in Panama City and the clock is ticking while I try to write with this ghetto keyboard. Literally most of the letters are taped on and written in white out.
So, we went to Kuna Yala and stayed on a beautiful tiny island with palm trees and sand. It wasn’t really our own island it was more of a touristy place I guess but there were few other people there than us. We each got out own little tent to sleep in. The first day we took a boat to one of the Kuna islands and met their congress. It was actually really cool because the man we met was speaking in their kuna language and then Kunglur (marcs friend) translated it to Spanish and then marc translated it to Spanish for us. Then we walked around and bought molas and things from the indigenous people. We also got to go swimming for a couple hours and im pretty sure everyone of us got burnt. A little to close to the equator for our gringo skin. The next day we got on the boat again and they gave us a tour around the islands. This “tour” turned out to be a 4 hour boat ride in the mid-day sun with no commentary. Needless to say I was very hot, tired, and ready for land by the time we got back. The third h}day in Kuna was by far my favotie and a once in a lifetime experience. It was the Kuna peoples independence day which they celebrate every year. First they act out what happened in 1925 which was a little boring and drawn out for my liking but the party begins. They go into one of their building and the men and women are separated to each side. (They were very welcoming and let us participate). Then they do some ceremonial things, I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, some of the men were smoking something. Then comes the cheecha beer which is made from corn and coffee or something. They drink it from coconut bowls and you have to chug the whole thing at once and then they smoke a cigarette after they drink it. It was wild, the women were way crazier than the men and they loved their cheecha. Anyway it was crazy and fun times were had. I would love to write more but Im pretty much out of time. Sorry for any typos or grammar errors this keyboard is funky. Hopefully Ill write again soon!


Island time

I guess we were all still on island time this morning because when we arrived on time for our bus to Panama this morning we missed it. We caught the 11:00 bus two hours later and now have less than two hours to spend here, but were pretty used to going with flow by now so all is good.

I severely underestimated the power of the sun at 8 degrees latitude in combination with the side effects of my meds and now have the worst sunburn I´ve ever had, but I still have to say Kuna is the most wonderful place I´ve ever been. The people were so welcoming and accomidating that I almost felt like guilty. I wish I could say more, but my internet time is almost up so I have to go.

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My Spanish is terrible

Yesterday I went with Macedonio (our Panamanian helper) to go see a drainage on the Pacific side of the divide for my study.  He speaks zero English, and the only Spanish I know is what I´ve picked up on the past 6 days, so it was interesting.  Latin Americans are blunt.  Several times he told me I spoke terribly and needed to practice my Spanish.  I inferred that the word ¨hablo¨ meant to know, since no hablo espanol means I dont know Spanish.  So I progressed to tell him all the words I know in spanish… hablo barba, hablo rana, hablo rio, etc. Little did i know that i was actually saying, ¨I speak frog, I speak beard, I speak river.¨  Now he probably thinks I´m a crazy American hippie.

on another note, i won the contest and am already up to two showers.

while we were sifting through leaf litter macedonio threw aside what appeared to be a stick.  on closer examination i found it to be a small brown lizard, approx 4 or 5 inches long.  i thought it was dead, since it was stiff and unmoving, so i took its picture on a rock.  when i set him down, though, he scurried away.  I took the picture back to Chad, who said it was from a genus of lizards that lives in the leaf litter and is likely an undescribed species, which is kind of cool.  I´ll be going back next week to collect more samples, and I´m going to see if I can capture a couple and bring them back to LaMica for closer inspection.

Today its off to Kuna Yala to see a unique indigenous community for the next 5 days.  Google it.

We have begun assuming alternate personas while on the latrine.  I am Tony Romo, for my blue and white tshirt.  Ethan is Bruce Willis, and Chris is Al Pacino.  Will is Maverick.

Times up.  Peace.

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Beach Bound

I´m in the internet café in Penome again, I´m in a bit of a hurry so I´ll try my best to say everything that’s happening. We are on a bus heading to Panama City where we are staying for a night and then getting up very early in the morning to go to Kuna Yala. Kuna Yala is a bunch of islands in the Caribbean coast where the indigenous Kuna people live. We will be visiting them and staying on our own island! Chad thinks we are getting way too excited about the whole island thing because he says it will be more of a sand bar but either way it sounds amazing. (Greg this is where the sand and palm trees come in)
Since the last time I wrote I´ve been to the park a few more times. The other day I got to go at night and start my project. There is a lot more action in the forest at night although it’s a little more scary since its hard to see where you are going and you have to stay very aware of your surroundings (check for snakes and such). Maeve and I found some more katydids for our collections, I believe someone named one of them George McLeaferson because it looked just like a leaf. I prefer not to name them because it makes it easier to kill them later. We saw lots of frogs in the park that night as well as a few snakes. Nancy and Ethan found some crabs for their project and we also saw tons of ants. The leaf cutter ants are my favorite but it’s the army ants you have to watch out for, Chad got attacked by some that crawled into his boots it didn’t look pleasant.
The food is still good although some of us were starting to get tired of rice everyday and were craving sweets. I think Julie might have overheard us saying this because last night for dinner we had BBQ chicken, French fries, and ice cream. Just what I needed.
Most of us have still been bathing in the river. We named the rocks in the middle of the river hygiene island. Even with hygiene island our room STINKS. Last night I was on a mission to figure out where the stench was coming from. I couldn’t figure it out at all. Later we found Nancy´s wet shirt under one of the bunks but the room still stanks. I think its just a combo of many things.
We also found a new hangout place. A little down the trail there is a spot of rocks that sits in the sun next to the river. It’s a great place to lay out and read. I don’t think I applied the sunscreen well enough yesterday and have a few awkward spots on sunburn. Oh well, it sounds like that way better than the 2 feet of snow I´ve heard about in Kirksville (suckas!).
I would like to thank Angela for the email and Shannon for the fb message of updates, its nice to know you still remember us. I miss you guys. I listen to the Oh! song twice already on the way here and it reminded me of you guys.
I don’t have time to put up picture yet maybe later. Got to go and beach it up!


alright so this is the blog post that is actually due this week.  oops.  honestly i feel like i have been here for weeks so i dont know what to tell you guys.  i found my first snake yesterday.  and to the surprise of many i did not scream like a girl and run away.  i was told by chad montgomery himslef that i handled it like a pro. nbd.  today we are headed to panama city for the night then headed to Kuna Yala.  im pretty freaking excited about this.  we will have our own island that we will be camping on.  dont get much better than that.  this part of the counrty is a lot more indigenous as well so  that will be a change from where we are staying.  already there has been so many great quotes and i hope that jackie doesnt mind that i am putting this in my blog for all to see but this has been my favorite quote by far.  “I thought that i would be BMing like a rock star, but that is just not the case” – Jackie.  havent been taking many pics, be patient people but i am just too amazed i dont even think about it really but contrary to what my mother is telling me there is indeed enough time to take pictures.  someone here has already filled up a 4 gig card and i think that i have taken like 30 pictures.  oops.  what else do you want to know.  tell me and i will provide.  peace out for now.


The Simple Life

Sorry if things are kind of messed up in this post, I´m typing on a Spanish keyboard and things are a little different. It´s been almost a week and I´m still loving Panama and La MICA. The food has continued to be excellent, I still haven´t gotten sick, and the weather´s still beautiful. I´m starting to adjust to the heat… I hear Kirksville got another snow storm, haha. I love hiking in the park and I try to go there as often as possible. As far as wildlife goes, I´ve seen 4 snakes (2 that were captured by Chad) and 2 tarantulas. I went to La Pintada two days ago for their Carnival Festival. It was definitely an interesting experience, I tried banana chips and a delicious fruit shake, and got squirted by a water gun. Right now we´re on our way to Kuna Yala where we will be staying over their independence day, it should be an exciting experience. While we are there we will be sleeping in tents on the beach of our own island, I´m quite excited. That´s about it for now!


primera semana

so this is the first week in panama but this is going to be a really rushed blog post.  not much time.  last time we were on the internet it was like 40 cents for two hours of internet so  it is pretty expensive as well so enjoy what  you get.

this is basically the coolest place that i have ever been.  everything is beautiful and green and i dont think that i am coming home, just so you know.  not much to complain about, i actually cant think of anything to complain about at the moment.  living at La MICA is definately a full body work out but it will be good.  the food is really good.  i think they got the hint that we like sweet food because they started bringing us sugary cookies and breads, popsicles and ice cream.  it is so hard to think of things that that we have done beause we have done so much already and it feels like we have been here for weeks instead of like three days.  so this is all you get for now but since this is supposed to be the post from last week i am going to do that one right now so go read that for more…

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Percy Jackson and the search for the tritant of poseidon

Me and chris have played some cool games, and we ate a pig in a blanket, poor little guy. I have also realized that we are doing well without knowing much spanish, but nonenglish speakers in the usa get trucked. I love everything about panama.


La MICA weight-loss program


We made it! And ‘wow’ is pretty much all I keep thinking.

I got to experience a bit of Carnaval craziness in Panama City with my fellow KC people, and I feel like it was a wonderful introduction to the next 2 months of unpredictability. I have certainly never been so aware of my race and gender before. Something about being a pale, white girl labeled me as a prime target for water guns, foam spray and the most effective confetti attacks I’ve ever seen! All I can say is, you win you sneaky, confetti-throwing children. You win.

After a continental breakfast at our hotel with Julie and Pablo and a tour of Panama Viejo, we ate lunch at the airport and picked up the St. Louis folks. We are learning that 25 gringos is quite the sight in Panama City, let alone El Copé. We piled our massive amounts of baggage and people onto the bus and headed to the drop off point to hike to the La MICA station. Luckily we had a crew of incredible Panamanians to follow us with our bags, since carrying a small backpack was enough to make me worry about toppling over on the trail. Something about seeing a wiry little Panamanian 10 year old girl in flip flops carry our stuff for us made me feel more pathetic than I ever have before. But, finally we arrived at our new home!

Nothing here is what I expected or could have ever imagined, and I love it! So when Chad referred to our research station being relatively out ¨in the sticks,¨ he wasn’t joking. We are living on the side of a steep hill with the most incredible view of the forest and river below us from our porch/classroom/dining room/common room/lab. Now that the PVC pipes carrying water are glued together and we’ve figured out the generator, we have running water and electricity (at night). I still can’t wrap my head around this being home for 2 months. How did I get lucky enough to be a part of this incredible experience?

Wednesday we toured El Copé and the park, and I cannot wait to get to spend more time in both places. I have to admit, I’d take the cool, rainy weather of the park over hot sticky humidity any day. I think I could wander in the cloud forest looking at the plants for a year and not get bored. It is beautiful, and I feel like a sap/nerd as I realize how happy being around this much greenery makes me. Maybe I should just ignore Julie’s warnings about Visa-hassles and move here…

I have too much to say for now, but it is crazy to think at some point even this new lifestyle will feel normal.  Other than that, I am glad to be getting to know the group better, and thank goodness for everyone’s sense of humour. The boys are funny in their own right, but together in their (super roomy) side of the dorm, they make for great entertainment. Though, I may feel differently the longer they take this ¨be like Che¨ mantra too far.

The girls, on the otherhand, are sweet-smelling and dealing with our cozy room quite well. Our mosquito nets and closed windows make the dorm pretty sticky at night, though the longer we’re here and more tired we are, this won’t matter as much.

We go to Panama City and Kuna Yala next week (after some more time in the Park and a History midterm this weekend) and I can’t wait for our first real excursion. I am trying to write as much down as things happen since I can’t be on here as much as I had thought, and because we are fitting so much into our long days! I actually don’t miss the internet much, and it’s wonderfully quiet to be cut off from the outside world.  But ’till next time we enter civilization!

Hasta luego!

(Amelia, Nina and Hayley, you should be proud of my acceptance that I should probably learn more Spanish.)