santa marta

Finally… some internet. Yesterday we got back from our homestays in Santa Marta which is a very small town without electricity about an hour away from El Cope. We arrived and got situated with our families who seemed very nervous to have us, I was nervous as well. Ashlee and I stayed with a family that had four kids. Two boys (15 and 4) and 2 girls (9 and 10). They were as nice as could be and made us feel extremely welcome. Even though we knew very little Spanish we were able to communicate basic things with them. They were very excited to teach us about their way of life and culture and were very happy when we complimented their food and finished our whole plate. I really think they wanted to impress us because they served us huge meals which were way more than I normally eat. The food was very good though and almost all of it was grown in their backyards or in the surrounding areas of their town. They had chickens, plantains, bananas, and more just around their house. I really enjoyed seeing their simple way of life. They owned very few possessions and didn’t have electricity so it seemed that they spent a lot of time with their family and friends. We always had visitors over our house. Ashlee and I actually became friends with 2 of the ladies that visited often and they invited us over for dinner one night. I was really happy to get to stay with a family for the four nights that we did because we have been away from our own families for a while now. All of us were acting like they were are real families and bragging that my dad is better and my mom cooks the best meals. It was nice to come home from doing things and have my mom and dad ask me what I did and to see my little brother get excited when I returned to the house. It made me miss my own family. We did a lot of hiking on the trip, most of the hikes were pretty hard but I love hiking so I didn’t mind and the views were breathtaking. We hiked three hours straight up a mountain one day to see the plane crash site of Omar Torijos who used to be the president of Panama. The hike was tough because Panama apparently hasn’t heard of switch backs so the trail was literally straight up the mountain. It was really cool when we got there because some of the men from Santa Marta came with us and one of them had been living there at the time of the crash. He told us a story of how he and his friends saw the crash happen and they were the first to arrive at the site. He said it took them half a day to get to it, the same amount of time it took us to get to it except that when they did it there was no trail so they were cutting through jungle to get there. Another day they took us to some waterfalls and a hot spring which they believe has healing powers. To me it didn’t even feel warm but I guess it was warmer than the rivers. The waterfalls were beautiful and we got to go swimming in them which was a lot of fun. One of the nights they had a dance for us and the whole community. They played traditional Panamanian music for us and we danced all night long. The last day they were really sad to see us go and kept asking when we would be back. It was really interesting to see how quickly they became attached to us. One of my favorite things about staying there and hiking around was that when we stopped to take breaks the men would climb a tree a pick a bunch of fresh oranges for us. Orange trees were everywhere and they were the best oranges I´ve ever had. Right now I´m in Penome checking up on emails and trying to figure out classes for next semester. I was going to put some pictures on facebook but my computer is not working right now so I don’t know if that will happen or not. Marc tells us it is hump day, the middle of our trip. Its hard to believe it. I hope everyone had fun on spring break this week, I can´t wait to hear about it!

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