We visited our site. It is absolutely beautiful, also really wet. They weren´t lying about the beautiful flowers. I saw orchids and weird ferns and other things that I think of only being able to grow in an conservatory. I spent a lot of time asking, ¨What is this plant here called?¨
The first day we stayed overnight near Chepo and our two guides took us to meet some of the local officials; medics, agriculture extension, the public school organization and that type of thing. I didn´t know what was going on so I was dress in jeans and a t-shirt. Panamanians are a stickler for appearances, so I´m sure we made a great impression. Also one of our guides kept calling us Jovensitos which translates more or less as the little youths. Yeah, lots of respect being garnered already!
The next day we went up the mountain in a chiva. It is no coincidence that these four wheel trucks used to transport goods and people share the name of the Hindu god of creation and destruction. While chivas allow access to very remote sites they are by nature, dirty, slow and cover incredibly rough terrain. Our chiva goes up a mountain, a very steep, always muddy mountain. There were only 15 people in it for our first assent; four guys in the cab and 11 people on the two benches that line the sides of the bed of the pick up. And only once did people need to get out and push. Although, I did loose track of the times I felt the wheels spin or slide.
We got off at the very end of the line. Right in front of the house that belonged to Ramiro. Ramiro is wonderful and he´s actually going to be our host for our first three months in site as well. His house is really pretty and is right next to the edge of a river. It´s actually a small cliff, that´s why he can build so close to the river. The other bank is much lower, so if there´s too much water it floods the other side. He has a house of wood planks with a cement floor, a latrine and four bedrooms. With their kids all living down in Chepo, we had pick of bedrooms. There is no electricity, but Ramiro has a solar panel that runs two light bulbs at night.
After hanging out with Ramiro for a day, we went visiting the neighbors. They all live up the mountain aways. In fact, no one lives very close to each other. We saw the tiny one room school and its six kids. We also saw the two stores, which have the same six things: oil, rice, sugar, cookies, soda and fuel. The people seem nice, if a bit shy.
The following day we helped build a tank to hold water. Basically a water tower, but on the ground. There were several guys from the community there as well as EarthTrain. We wound up staying the night with EarthTrain. They have got five American high school students and six Embera youths living together in this beautiful campus type place. Campus is a lose term, bascially they have some really nice buildings with electricity, Internet and phone coverage. We stayed the night in one of their bungalows. It was quite interesting. I´ll have to write more about them later. But right now let´s suffice it to say, they are basically building a botanical garden to showcase the local flora. So what´s not to love?
After another day or two of meeting the community and going to the school´s party for the kids, we headed back for our final weeks in training. It´s all very exciting. There are lot´s of good stories from our visit that I don´t have time to share, but I hear once we get in site we´ll start having lots of time and maybe I´ll publish some of them.
The only other news is our laptop has a virus right now, and doesn´t want to run. We more than likely got the virus from down loading everyone´s pictures to make a slide show for the going away party for our training community. Hopefully, Jeff can get it all sorted out. I have faith.