Archive for April, 2010

Goodbye Panama. You shall be missed.

So here I am sitting in Gamboa on my last night in Panama. We have wireless internet, a luxury as you can probably tell from my sparse blog postings. So many things running through my head. The things I miss about home: carpet, clean water, hot showers, clean feet, clean cloths, clean things, my bed, ect. ect. ect. The list goes on and on. So many things I will miss about Panama: showering under the stars, showering in the sun, the jungle, the park and my lizards, laying on the rocks, hiking (sometimes), the sun, the bus system (its very convenient), the MOUNTAINS, the waterfalls, the views, again, the list goes on and on.
I can not believe I’m going to get up tomorrow and get on a plane and leave Panama. Its all over. Though I’m so very ready to be home and see all my favorite people, I find it peculiar knowing that this adventure of a lifetime is coming to an end.
Some of the highlights of the trip for me were: staying with my family in Santa Marta. Living their culture and economic status was eye opening to say the least. The day we spent at the waterfalls was amazing and helping to build the mud house was so much fun. Kuna Yala was so beautiful and seeing an indigenous culture and their way of life was interesting to say the least. I even enjoyed the last night there when we slept on picnic tables at 4am becasue it was pouring rain and our tents flooded. I enjoyed sleeping in the park that one night to do our research at 3-8 am. Really, it was fun. Then it rained all morning so we didn’t even get the data we needed. No sleep and lots of lizards made for an interesting day. Salsa lessons from the Panamanian at the resort we went to on one of our free days was fun, I always love to dance! The talent show was hilarious and knowing that a few months ago there were 24 strange people that now all feel like good friends is also always a plus 😉
So now to bed, to the plane in the morning, to my casa tomorrow night. Goodbye Panama, you shall be missed.

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locas en bocas

What can I say about Bocas.  It is a wonderful place to be.  Good, clean fun was had by all. Ha. The perfect place to just let loose, relax, hang out and make new awesome friends.  I think that all of us that went had a great time and would not mind visiting in the future.  Aside from the ten hour travel days I think that we had a pretty awesome time.  We were able to hit some beaches, do some snorkeling, see some dolphins (kind of), and eat some American food.  We made friends that were from all over the world, one of our favorites being José that was staying at our hostel.  He was from Costa Rica and had a lot of insightful things to say about life.  I will probably have to tell you guys about Bocas later, there is just so much awesome things about it that it is hard to think of them all right now.

When we got back from Bocas we only had a couple of days left before we were leaving Panama.  Over those next couple of days we all just kind of packed herer and there and tried to keep the place clean, but some people still can’t seen to manage to keep things tidy.  People were getting pretty on edge these last couple of days because we finally don’t have to be around each other all the time.  Not that we don’t like each other of course, just that we all enjoy our personal space.  Which we have none of at La MICA.  It was quite the sad goodbye today.  I think that Tio Mac might have shed a tear.  He loved us.  I’m pretty excited to go home though to see the fam, get some good meals, and head back to the wonderful land of Kirksville to see all my loves.  I wonder that if we were staying longer in Panama if I would be ready to go home now or if I am just ready to go home now because it is so soon.  Who knows.  Either way I’m ready now so I hope that you are all ready for me, because I am definitely ready to see all of you!!!

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last day

I can’t believe it’s already time to leave however I am ready to go. Tension is growing between the 25 of us and it’s about time that we get some alone time without each other. Overall though I think the trip was a grand time and I had some awesome once in a lifetime experiences and made some new friends in the process. Despite all the fun we have been having I am ready to go back to normal easy life. Some things I’ll miss about living in Panama: fresh delicious fruit, being outside all the time, bathing in the river, not having “real” classroom type class, saying buenas as a greeting, seeing wildlife every day, taking free days to boquette and bocas, scenic mountain views everywhere I look, and the crazy public transportation. Some things I won’t miss: waking up to my bed shaking from people walking in the dorm, never knowing exactly when or what I’ll be eating for the day, sweating a lot, never having truly clean clothes, hiking to the bathroom, and the crazy public transportation. Some things I’m looking forward to: mom’s home cooking, friends in Kirksville, mirrors, cheese, peace & quiet, sleeping in late, a washer and dryer, cold milk/water/beer, and my comfy bed. Anyways, I can’t wait to be home and see everyone!! I’m attempting to put up pictures on facebook now but I’ve said that before and it didn’t happen so don’t count on it.

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Héctor Gallego

Priest Jesús Héctor Gallego Born January 7, 1938 Kidnapped June 9, 1971 His parents: Horacio Gallego, Alejandrina H. de Gallego "If I disappear don't look for me; continue the struggle."

Priest Jesús Héctor Gallego Born January 7, 1938 Kidnapped June 9, 1971 His parents: Horacio Gallego, Alejandrina H. de Gallego "If I disappear don't look for me; continue the struggle."

We arrive in the lovely town of Santa Fe and I see a monument to Héctor Gallego. He is standing in front of a replica of a peasant hut, and below it has a quote that carries echoes of Joe Hill’s dictum “don’t mourn; organize!” Everything in this tourist mecca seems to carry his name–the peasant coop, the grocery store, even the internet cafe.

Good Friday when everything is shut down is not the most conducive time to ask around for information on who exactly Héctor Gallego was and what he had done. Lonely Planet says that he was a catholic priest from the 1960s who organized the local peasants until the government became wary of his teachings and murdered him.

In 1971, Omar Torrijos was in power. At the same time that Gallego was killed, Torrijos was giving land and water buffalo to peasants at Coclecito. I assume if Gallego was organizing peasants to wrest power away from the coffee barons and to put the profits in the hands of the farmers that he was probably influenced by liberation theology.

What does this say about Torrijos if he would want to kill a radical priest? Is this evidence that Torrijos did not have a revolutionary ideology, but instead like a traditional nineteenth-century caudillo he was an authoritarian leader who handed out favors to his friends but tolerated no one who organized power bases separately from him? Does Panama have a strong tradition of social movement organizing?

I keep finding indications like this that this weird little country has a much more fascinating history than the traditional focus on a big ditch going through the middle of it would ever seem to indicate.

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Go leñas rojas! go!

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A turn for the worst

Just heard some bad news.  Chad just heard from the airline that our tickets got messed up, and somehow they processed them for Thursday, April 15th rather than Thursday, April 8th.  He’s been trying to get things switched around, but the airline is being uncooperative, and alternative options are very expensive.  Couple that with the local strike by the Bean Growers Guild (BGG) and things are getting very frustrating.  You may laugh, but that’s a big deal down here.  Marc said we’ll probably end up having to just stay the extra week in a cheap hotel in Panama City somewhere and return on the 15th, because it’s looking like too much of a hassle to switch the dates.
Wish I could offer some good news but not a whole lot has gone right recently.  The local herp populations have been recently decimated by a virus that has been sweeping through Central America for the past 3 years and so it has been difficult to collect enough data for many of the groups.  One groups study organism, Norops lionatus, has gone locally extinct due to poaching, so they have had to shift their research focus to studying the effects of adding human feces to the water supply for the biological station.  The frog people discovered upon arrival that frogs haven’t been invented yet in Panama, which threw a big wrench into their plans.  In addition, radiation from the local Twinkie factory has mutated the local aquatic organisms.  Ethan and Nancy’s crabs begun to grow modified claws that double as radio antennas broadcasting Phil Collins.  I’m a big fan of Genesis, but not everyone here seems to appreciate musical genius.
My research project has been getting steadily better as my sample collection techniques have improved.  I’ve discovered that dead leaves only come out during the daytime to sun themselves, and if I’m quiet I can sneak up on entire packs of them at once and cleverly capture them in my trashbags.  A word from the wise- don’t even try to get them during the nighttime, they are much too agile and good at swimming.  If you let them get to the river you’ll never catch them!
Nobody has seen Andrea in awhile.  We were joking on the bus with this old Panamanian man, laughing a lot, having a good time, not really understanding anything he was saying.  I’ve found that nodding my head and repeating “si!” over and over is a good way to make people think you speak Spanish.  Anyway, once we got off the bus, the man handed me 5 bucks, plopped poor Andrea in a wedding dress and rode off with her into the sunset on his horse, a silvery steed named Tonto.  Sometimes I wonder what their children will look like.
In other news, Cameron will be offering an informational seminar upon our arrival on how not to let your crap get stolen in a foreign country, open to all who are interested.
Right now I’m in Bocas Del Toro.  That part isn’t a lie.


One week left!?

Are you joking? Only 7 days left here in Panama! I have done so much here but at the same time I feel like it´s not enough. I can´t help but to wonder if I will ever see this place again- it feels like a second home. I´m so excited to live my future- what if I do come back and bring friends or family? And show them places like La MICA, Omar Torrijos National Park, or who knows what else! I can´t wait to see what my future holds!

Listening to Happy by Natasha Bedingfield and can´t help but to smile and know that my life is awesome. I am really looking forward to seeing my family and friends when I return home! Can´t wait to share a Saturday night dancing with my crew- especially Ben, I absolutely cannot wait to share a dance with him!

In Aguadulce today spending some time with my best friend Audra! é´re just relaxing today, going out to lunch soon, and shopping a bit for friends and family. It´s nice to spend some time with just her (I get jealous when I have to share her with so many people 😉 ha!) I am really glad she is here sharing this trip with me, because when we get back to the states I have someone that I know understands all the amazing things that we saw and understands how I feel about them!

We´re headed to lunch now- to waterfalls tomorrow!

See you in a week!


Uno mas semana?!!!

What? only one more week! Im really excited to be home but at the same time I cannot believe this is almost over! Its been a long time since the last time I have posted a blog.. internet is hard to find here! Im excited to see eveyone and I really miss home! The last few days we have just been in the park doing research on our lizards. Im getting a lot better at catching the little guys, and our data is looking pretty good I think.
Last week we had a few free days so Hanna, Ashlee, Rebecca, and I went to an all-inclusive for a night. It was great! We had sushi and danced the night away 🙂 Learned from salsa from a Panamanian and a guy from London who knew he couldn´t dance. We also swam in the ocean and the pool and ate two dinners and swam some more! I felt like I was on the show survivor and I won a reward challenge. Haha Mom, Kristin, and Lynn, I thought you guys might appreciate that comment.
I know I am really going to miss this place; Ive been taking hundreds of photos and writing down everything I want to remember. I cant wait to come home and share it with all my favorite people!
I decided to take a job working at a summer camp in Texas for three months this summer. Im a going to be such a pro at camping!
Traci has made a list of ´firsts´that she has done here in Panama. That was a great idea. I think i´d be up to about a million by now! So many experiences cammed into just two months! Crazy. This will most likely be the last time I blog while in Panama. I wish I would have had internet more often so I could have blogged more often, o well. I was having too much fun to miss out on for internet would have been silly. Home soon 🙂 See you then!