It is hard to believe we have had only five days in Panama.
Yesterday we traveled to our training site and met our host family and moved in. They are wonderful. We live with a mother and father and their two daughters (26 and 19) and one granddaughter (6). Their house is cielo (sky colored) and made of cinder blocks with a zinc roof. It is really loud when it rains, which it does every afternoon and often at night and sometimes in the morning. It’s the rainy season . . . for the next eight months.
We have our own room with a door. It is the only interior door in the house. Otherwise there are only curtains. Our family has four dogs and three baby chicks. Our mother feeds us really well. We had been warned they might give us too much, but so far it has been fine. We had chicken and mashed potatoes for lunch and for dinner seasoned ground beef with beans and rice and a salad similar to coleslaw. They really like hot dogs here and they will serve them for any meal of the day. Rice is really common and we’ve had beans several times. The fruit here is amazing. The fresh pineapple is especially good.
On the first day we told our host family we liked cereal, such as cornflakes for breakfast. That night the boyfriend of the 19 year old daughter brought us duros, which are frozen concoctions usually of frozen juice and sugar in a simple plastic bag. You bite a corner off and suck on it, kind of like a popice. Literally translated duro means hard in Spanish. Earlier we had pina duros (pineapple frozen juice). However, this time they were cornflake flavored. That’s right, cornflake flavored. It was a mixture of frozen milk, sugar and cornflakes frozen together. As the flakes unthawed they were soggy and limp. I couldn’t finish mine, it was gross. So I pretended to eat it and then fed it to Ken, on of the dogs. He thought it was really good.
We had our first round of classes today. In the morning I have Technical Agriculture Class. We will learn how to use a machete and grow different types of plants and how to become a good teacher. Jeff has language in the morning. Then we come back to our house and have an hour for lunch. After lunch we switch. Jeff goes to Technical Ecology Class and I go to language class. We have four hours of technical and four hours of language. That’s a lot! All our classes are in Rancheros, a house with no walls, only four posts and a roof of palm leaves. It’s a very traditional type of gathering place.
At the end of this week we are going on a field trip “adventure in the city” We’re not sure which city, there are two towns close by and Panama city is about an hour away. I hope to be able to post this all then. There are three public telephones in the town, however they run on solar power and do not work at night or when it’s raining. I have not attempted to use them, but hopefully I will get a chance soon. I have to figure out what I did with my calling card first.