Rabid Panda?

Less than a year remains of our Peace Corps service. When we arrived in DC for staging in May '07 they had a list of 34 names. Only 32 applicants showed up. Two volunteers left during training, two more right after we went to our separate sites, and a married couple went home this April to have their first child. For those of you who can't subtract that leaves 28 and 20 of us made it to Isla Grande to celebrate.
To make the trip interesting there was a transportation strike in Colon (the city on the north end of The Canal). We were almost the last to get there, the first to arrive were eventually taken by the police to headquarters. The amazingly helpful officers then provided a private 30 passenger bus and driver gratis. Our Peace Corps security officer is more than effective and I suspect the Colon police are still shaken up from the last interaction they had with her.

By the time we got to Colon all this was done and we got off our bus to try and flag down a taxi. Due to the strike all the taxi drivers avoided us like brujas. (witch or evil spirit) Foy caught the eye of an ambulance driver who took pity on the stranded gringos and gave us a lift to our friends. That's right Foy hitched an ambulance.

All that remained was an easy ride to port and a short bit by boat to Isla Grande.
The hazy central one is Isla Grande from shore at 6:00 am, as we waited for the bus back to Colon.

We had a great time with our group but the accommodations were not amazing especially the second day when the power went out. There is a nicer resort on the other side of the island. Foy and I hiked over for a good but rather expensive dinner. On the way Foy walked within six inches of a fur-de-lance (very poisonous and aggressive snake). I saw it sitting along the trail just as she was walking past. Luckily it seemed sick or very sleepy and quite uninterested in Foy's lovely ankle.

We are currently in Panama City for our one year medical exams. While we were waiting in the office Marcela, our embassy family hostess, called saying that her neighbor had met my godmother's sister. She gave me the number of an embassy nurse who was having lunch with said sister. I called and Foy and I ended up have a pleasant dinner with Jim and Jan Irene. That's networking!
Jim and Jan Irene on their 7th floor balcony.

I think the camera lens must have fogged up going from the AC to the humid air so the picture is poor. You can see the roof of the Peace Corps office and The Canal in the background. They have just moved to Panama and we shared their first meal in their fine apartment.

Foy has been working on the Volunteer Cookbook. When she finishes it Gender And Development (GAD) an organization within PC will sell it as a fund raiser.

I set up a Panamanian themed still life to paint for the cover.
Foy is aiming to finish the cook book in time to sell it at the volunteer Thanksgiving celebration.

Now for a non sequitur.

My mother sent me an email with pictures of unstoppably cute pandas. If people could have those as pets they would be universally popular. They would be crammed into tiny apartments. We would have feral populations of street pandas that people set "free" when they got too big to care for. I know they are called gentle giants but their near genetic relatives are raccoons. Raccoons can get rabies. That's the next Cujo. A rabid giant panda.
We'll keep Zeus.

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