I just wrote this for an email, but I think I´ll reuse it for a blog post in the interest of time.
It´s a really strange experience in Panama. I still feel like I am on vacation. We´ve been here three weeks, but we are always with someone who speaks English so it isn´t complete immersion yet.
We just spent the weekend visiting an indigenous community North of Panama City. We stayed with a currently serving volunteer couple. It was a lot of fun to see what they were up to. They are economic volunteers and are helping their community with managing tourism. They had lots of wonderful projects including building restrooms for the visitors and starting a Girl Scout troup.
All the other trainees each went to visit a different volunteer. We haven´t been back yet to see how their trips went (I´m at the bus station), but I´m sure ours was one of the best. We got to stay in a house on stilts with no walls and a thatch roof. It was amazing. The locals were very friendly and they have the most musical laughter, and they laugh easily and often. I felt really welcomed even with my poor excuse for spoken Spanish.
One day we hiked up into the mountain to help bring down big logs for house building. It was a lot of work and I couldn´t carry more than three down before I was exhausted. Jeff managed to carry down more bigger and heavier logs than me, and he has the bruised shoulders to prove it. Instead of walking back the way we had gone up, we cut down to the river and swam/floated back down to our community. We also visited a waterfall and took several motor canoes into different communities. I can´t wait to get my pictures posted, but I don´t have them with me. So I guess we´ll just have to wait until I get another chance.