Visitors, T-shirts, and the Hair Buzzer

The month of April has brought us our first volunteer visitors. Teri stayed for two nights then our regional leader Alison visited. We took some photos of us and Teri playing in one of the nearby waterfalls but they are good enough to deserve their own post.

This is Alison making a sour face, but I only took one photo so... Foy looks happy!

This is part of the view from our porch. For about half an hour in the early morning when the sun breaks over the valley everything is golden. Just a bit more incentive for anyone who is considering a visit.

In the process of getting a masters degree in illustration I ended up with a masters degree in Photoshop (best image editing program ever) as well. There are many subgroups in PC, and each group commemorates its existence by making t-shirts. Photoshop is good for many things not the least of which is making t-shirts. When someone says ¨Who can do the t-shirt design?¨ This string of somewhat related facts plus my love of praising my own abilities leads me to say ¨Oh! Oh! Me I could do that. It will be a snap.¨

We made a special trip to the PC office in Panama so I could use their computer with Photoshop to finish our regional t-shirt. It only took three separate visits and five hours to put it together.

These are all the volunteers currently living east of Panama City. They are my regional PC family. Why are they all cut out looking with deadpan expressions on their faces?

Because, this is a example of the family portraits that can be found in most Panamanian homes.

PC brings in two new groups of volunteers every year. This fellows name is Franklin, and he works with volunteers in training. He has a constantly, overwhelmingly cheerful attitude, and speaks nonstop English in an understandable but very distinct accent. One of his favorite exclamations is ¨OH MY GOD!¨ During training enough of our group became sufficiently enamored with Franklin to select him as our Group 59 shirt.

In the first ten weeks of training when we learned that our site does not have electricity. I asked my mother to mail me a battery powered hair buzzer. Apparently this is hard item to come by. She eventually found a battery powered beard trimmer in one of those ¨gifts for that guy you can´t think of a gift for¨ magazines, and mailed it as a Christmas present in early December. The box arrived in February and when we got back to our site we mentioned that we had gotten our Christmas gifts. The next quest being ¨What did you get?¨I listed our haul. That same afternoon this teenager showed up on our porch and asked if I would give him a hair cut.

He asked what the charge was, and foolishly I said nada. As we have mentioned before there are only a few teenagers in our town, and none of them girls. Without girls to annoy, TV to watch, or video games to play, cutting hair is about as fun as it gets. They asked to borrow this new source of amusement that very day. The next day when they did not bring it back I went to retrieve it. I tried it out when they handed over, and it made a sad little buzz the batteries being nearly dead. The buzzer runs on two AAAs and that is enough for a limited number of full hair cuts. One of the boys had not had his turn yet and asked if I would cut his hair. We went back to my porch and I told him the batteries had enough strength to start but not to finish. He was sure I could get the job done so I proceeded about half way until the machine could no longer cut through his thick black hair. Over the next several weeks the boys pestered me to get them more batteries, but I staunchly refused. The first set only lasted one day, and I did not want to get into the trap of buying a never ending supply.

Several weeks later I cut my own hair using the batteries out of one our head lamps. We didn´t have any meetings coming up for a bit so I decided to shave my head. When our neighbors next saw me they told me without reservation that it looked awful. I don´t think it looked that bad. The boys asked why I had ¨cut to zero with the Gillette¨ and not used ¨the machine¨. I told them the batteries were all used up. Ingenuous and ingenious. All along they had been waiting for me to buy more batteries. Knowing that I was willing to suffer such an awful fate before purchasing new batteries they were forced to by their own.

I do not care to guess how many batteries have been drained since but only the soccer ball is borrowed with more frequency. Since Feb. they have probably each had more than ten haircuts, and when like Barbie there is just not enough left to cut they have gone around and cut small children's and parents' hair, just for the fun of it. If I chose to train barbers instead of teaching English or working on environmental projects I think I would face far less resistance.

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