I will do my best to be coherent, but I admit my mind is elsewhere as I await the arrival of my fiancee Sarah here in Panama City this afternoon. After not seeing her for almost six months, I am truly grateful for the chance to have her visit. She is on a plane from Tampa to Miami at the moment. My host family already gave her a Ngabere name, so you'll have to ask her what her new name is!
The past month or so has had its mix of good and bad. A prime example is watching my first Vikings game as they beat Dallas 34-3, only to hear through the phone that they weren't able to make it to the Super Bowl. At least the Twins will sign Joe Mauer, right?
I don't know if you heard it on CNN or not, but Panama has 10 new graduates of English 101. After conducting their oral interviews in English, our group celebrated with chicken, rice, kool-aid, and dominoes (playing dominoes, not eating dominoes).
On a sad note, my cheap Digicel international calling plan ended on January 15th. The price per minute rose from 3 cents to 15 cents, so I apologize in advance for not making as many phone calls. If you want to chat, email me and we can set up a Skype call!
I have been a proud engineer, seeing the people of my community become better engineers by the day. In two communities, we used a surveying device made of PVC, clear plastic tubing, and water to survey the entire acueduct system. Using the data, I can enter the numbers into a computer program to make a nice spiffy map of their system, complete with horizontal distance, vertical distance, flow, and pipe diameter. During the surveying process, they taught me how to communicate to friends far away by yelling at the top of my lungs in different vocal patterns. We also celebrated a long days work by playing baseball. Ground balls are a bit tricky on the uneven terrain.
Our community also organized wood pit latrine workdays. The owner who wants the latrine built would get the materials ready and cook food while the workers would work all day and eat the food. It's great to see everyone working together to make these beautiful works of art called latrines.
A representative from the Ministry of Environmental Health came and visited our site last week. We were able to have a great discussion on Community Organization and Participation and were able to lay out how the Environmental Health Ministry, Peace Corps, and the community can work together to improve environmental health.
A member of our own community working for a government agency put together a workday on organic fertilizer. Everyone came with a big sack full of ash, dried leaves, rice husks, horse manure, and even a fermented corn drink. They were making jokes all day on how they couldn't believe the alcoholic drink was better off in the ground making compost than in their stomachs.
Another current project is writing solicitudes for the latrine and aquaduct projects. We will be soliciting help from the district representative, mayor, and two government agencies. Next up will be putting together material and price lists.
The last highlight was our Comarca Regional Meeting. We got caught up on our different projects and even had time for an organic coffee and wine tour. I highly recommend it!
Ask the audience: Vote for your Top 5 photos from my Picasa albums-the link is located on the right margin above. I'm going to submit photos to make a Peace Corps Panama Photo Calendar. Leave a comment below with
1) The Album Name
2) The row and column of the photo
Thanks for reading! I'm off to spend two awesome weeks with my fiancee! Goodbye!