I hope you are well. It has been a challenging, encouraging week. Three of us who will be stationed in the Comarca Ngobe Buble, a large plot of land set aside for two indiginous groups, spent a week living in the community of a current Peace Corps volunteer, Andrea. She stationed us with our own host families and then organized some language and culture classes throughout the week.
God has shown me His beauty in the beautiful views, sunsets, and the beautiful people He has created. He´s forced me to rely solely on Him, being sick on Wednesday on the top of a mountain in the rain with a host family from an indiginous culture who I´ve only been with for less than a week.
I´m encouraged even as I write this because my host brother Efehemio, a host brother who´s in 5th grade, saw me reading my bible and pulled out his own bible and read a chapter together in our own languages. How cool is that!
It´s been a joy to be with my family this week. Efehemio is 13 years old and so eager to learn. He teaches me the indiginous language Ngabere every night and then I teach him some english. The family has also taught me some of their traditional dances. The family has two parents and 13 kids, ten of whom live with them. They have a palm roof with wood walls and dirt floors. They don´t have electricity, but use a kerosene lamp to light up the house for a bit after the sun goes down. They listen to lots of Christian music, often at 2 or 3 in the morning when they can´t sleep. The father is fairly quiet, the mother a bit more outgoing. They talk to me in a mix of Spanish and Ngabere.
As Efe continued his dances, his brothers and sisters joined in as I took some pictures. Eventually, I started to dance too and then they all started laughing as I tried to learn the steps.
Showering has been quite an adventure. There is a path down the hill to the creek where they have a small bucket. It´s kind of fun showering in the jungle, but the water is actually quite cold.
Sleeping is a bit of a challenge. There is plenty of time to sleep as the sun goes down around 7pm, but my bed is just bamboo rods with my sleeping pad on top. It gets quite cold up here in the mountains, so it gets fairly cold at night. I´ve worn pants, sweatshirt, and socks to bed every night.
Every morning we walk over from our host family´s house to Andrea´s house, where we have some lemon grass tea from her yard and then catch up on our host family experiences. We usually spend a few hours learning Ngabere each day and then have some type of field trip in the afternoon.
On Friday, we came back to my host family´s house, where we learned how to shuck some fibers from the plant to make rope to make a chakra, a type of handbag that can be dyed a variety of colors. My host dad also was working on a sombrero which he will sell later. He works on it for 3.5 days and sells it for around $25 down in San Felix. We also toured the vegetable garden of one of the men in the group.
Other fun activities this week included hiking to the top of the town, where we could see down to the river valley, out to the Pacific, and up to the tallest mountain peaks. We´ve learned about the history of the Comarca, typical family foods, typical family responsibilities around the house, and other helpful bits of information.
I hope you have a bit of an idea of what life is like and I will try to post again after my upcoming technical week.