Images of Panama

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I wanted to post some photos from summer in Barrigon this year (summer being January-March) and thank everyone from Saint Ben's and Saint John's who donated money to assist a few of our summer projects. With the funding our Panama Verde group was able to attend an environmental youth camp, we constructed community signs with environmental messages, we improved the trail system in town and the national park and we were able to help a new local group of ecotourism guides. It was money well spent-muchas gracias!

Panama Verde Camp! This year the kids learned about coastal ecosystems and the problems associated with deforestation in Panama. It was a great experience for my kids since most of them had never left our province or seen the ocean.

The kids worked on a beach clean-up one morning and then spent the rest of the day playing in the ocean/posing for pictures. Everyone is a model...especially that girl on the right.

And what do the Peace Corps camp counselors do when the kids are playing in the ocean? They take pictures of themselves. This is me working with Stacey and Mona who also have Panama Verde groups in their communities.

These are some of the Panama Verde kids with the signs we made to place around the community. The general theme of the signs is to not throw trash (No Tire Basura) and protect nature (Cuida la Naturaleza), although a few signs have quotes about why we should protect the environment. This is one of many steps improving waste management and resource conservation in Barrigon, and so far the community has responded favorably.

Here is the new office for the local guide group. With the help a small micro-loan (thanks to the CSB/SJU donation) the guides were able to pay the rent for this office space and buy a few basic materials for starting a business. They are a great group of people who actually care about environmental conservation, so I'm enjoying my work with the guides.

Speaking of environmental conservation, here are some Panama Verde kids working on a trail. Now you might be thinking, ''Hey, that seems like a pretty wide trail.'' You would be correct...yes, Mario and Julio got a little carried away with this part of the trail, but it was a good opportunity to talk about why we don't want to create more erosion with our conservation projects.

A big summer event at my house was the construction of my new rancho, a palm roofed shelter behind my house where I hang hammocks. My neighbors were great teaching me about the different kinds of wood and palm leaves that work best for ranchos, so just let me know if you need any help constructing your own. It really makes a house a home.

The man in this photo is cooking sugar cane juice. After the juice has boiled down he can make raspadura, sugar cane syrup mixed with ginger and coconut. My favorite part of this picture is the group of men sitting in the background. They'll watch all day, drinking cerveza and listening to music, while that other guy works hard over the fire.

This is a woman in my town weaving a hat (yes, to make those famous Panama Hats). Just about everyone in town knows how to make a hat, and some of them spend 8 hours a day weaving. When I tried weaving I could do it for about 30 minutes and then my fingers got tired and I was bored. Unfortunately, hat making is not going to be a skill I bring home.

This is Señor Goyo washing his beautiful white horse in the river outside my house. He loves his horse more than anything and always asks me to take a picture of the two of I did and here it is.

I've recently been learning more about Panamanian cooking, and probably the best part is stirring food over a fire with a huge wooden spoon. Rice for 50 people?

This is my friend Rosalyn teaching me how to make pineapple marmalade. This marmalade would win the blue ribbon at any state fair, and she didn't even learn the recipe at 4H.

Regis and I went hiking a few weeks ago and I had never seen so many moss covered rocks in my life. Beautiful, yes, but extremely slippery when you are trying to hike on them and keep up with a Panamanian.

One day I decided to visit a beach community about an hour from Barrigon. I had read that the beach had ''pools'' for swimming, and that the pools filled with water with each high tide. I imagined white pools filled with crystal water, so I just had to laugh when I arrived and saw this moss and mold covered structure. The town considers this a unique tourist attraction. Ah yes. It appears as though tourists are flocking to the site.

How's this for traveling safely?

I've got to include some Carlos photos: here he is dancing at my house with a bowl on his head. Why? Because we do crazy things like that at la casa de Ana. It's not a true dance party without silver bowls.

And here is crazy Carlos just being weird. I love the EXIT shirt.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Here it is, our brand new computer. But don't be fooled: we staged this picture. Those kids have no idea how to even turn it on, but they'll be Microsoft pros when I get done with them.
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We had a drum circle/dance the other night, Tamborito, and this niña is wearing the traditional dress.
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Here are the moms wearing their traditional dresses, too. They stand in a line singing and clapping while the men drum (I can never understand all the words...I just clap).
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I spent part of this month working in indigenous communities in the Bocas del Toro province (caribbean side). Nearly everyone lives in wooden houses on stilts because of all the rain...looks like a pleasant day, eh?
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We were putting on the Captain Planet Eco-Fair in different schools, so here is Agua Ana--cape and all--talking about drinking water. Captain Planet is the guy hanging out by the door and saving the world from pollution.
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This is Agua Ana in true Super Heroine style, flying through the jungle.
(John Kamman, this pose is for you)
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This is Loralee (Super Suelo) and Emily (Chica del Fuego) hanging out after a long day of Eco-Fairing.
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The Ngobe-Bugle people live along the caribbean coast and use these canoes in both rivers and the ocean. Here's a slightly funny story: whenever a fishing canoe doesn't come back from the ocean (say, after a storm), many Ngobes honestly believe the ''Red Chinese'' in submarines come and eat the people who were in those canoes. Accidental drowning doesn't seem to be a possibility. A lot of volunteers in Ngobe communities are frequently asked about these mysterious ''Red Chinese.'' One of my friends has just started telling them that China has enough people in its own country if its citizens want to eat humans. They don't need to send special submarines to Panama. Hmm.
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When Gina came we spent a few days at the beach. Yep, it was beautiful.
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This particular day was a great combination of things I like: bikes, a friend I've known since 3rd grade and the caribbean coast. We found a perfect forest path that led to the turquoise water.
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One more picture of Gina: here she is sitting next to the gigantic bag sent down with her by my mother. That bag was bigger than Gina (but thanks for all the stuff, Mom!) It made traveling interesting.
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This is me with part of the kids in my Panama Verde environmental youth group. We were at the national conference, hence all the matching shirts (except for that one kid, Ricky). In Panama, all official events must include matching shirts.
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What is an afternoon like at Ana's house? Kid Central. Luckily that huge bag from my mom was filled with lots of art supplies and books to keep them busy and learning.
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This is everyone in my town celebrating the feast of our Patron Saint, San Isidro.
Celebrating=Processing with a statue and banner for three hours. Fun.
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Joe arrived speaking better Spanish than I do after his semester abroad in Guatemala. He was a favorite in the school with his guitar and funny English lessons. He left two months ago and the kids are still asking when he'll come back again to sing with them. Hey kids, I can be fun, too.
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Joe took this neighbors are so cute and they love to play with my gadgets.
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Carlos is one of my best students and always comes over to my house to talk. He likes to help organize the shelves or do the dishes, and yesterday he said, ''Ana, eres como mi hermana. Te quiero mucho.'' (Ana, you are like my sister. I love you a lot.) He's one I want to put in my backpack and take home to Colorado.
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