This article appeared in the Ames Tribune Newspaper on September 9, 2008.
Glimpses of life in rural Panama
The last time we were in Panama City, we went to a big chain supermarket. Jeff was looking for the soy substitute for meat when he passed a woman giving out samples of tequila. About half a shot worth, and she even had lime and salt.
The other day, after a medical visit to the school, all the moms and babies visited our house. There were at least six women and possibly twice that many babies and children. We brought out every chair we had and then all the books and coloring supplies to entertain our guests. It was interesting to watch one little old lady with a child about one year old on her lap. She had a picture book of Curious George in Spanish. She flipped through the pages showing the baby. The entire time, the book was upside down.
Jeff sat down next to a guy he didn't know. He asked him "Como se llama?" which is the formal, indirect way to ask how someone is called. The man replied, "Batman." Jeff looked confused "Como?" he asked again. "Batman." Jeff took this for a joke and replied, "Entonces, Soy Superman." (Well, I am Superman.) Now the man looked confused. Jeff gestured with his hands and said, "I'm Superman, and you are Batman." The man started laughing and pointed to the dog. The dog's name was Batman. The dog had walked by about the time Jeff asked his question. It's so much fun to have a language with formal tense.
Foy and Jeff are Peace Corps volunteers in central Panama, some 40 miles northeast of Panama City. They live in a town of about 50 people that has no electricity. Their Peace Corps assignment is from May 2007 to Aug. 2009.