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long email...from Panama

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  • Debbie Anderson
    Shazia Davis wrote: Date: Sat, 23 Sep 2006 13:03:10 -0700 (PDT) From: Shazia Davis Subject: long email... How
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 24, 2006
      Shazia Davis <shaziadavis@...> wrote:
      Date: Sat, 23 Sep 2006 13:03:10 -0700 (PDT)
      From: Shazia Davis <shaziadavis@...>
      Subject: long email...
      How is everyone?  Hope that all is going well for all of you.  I miss you guys!  But I have tons of news from Panama.  Basically the situation is that every time I go to the computer I walk away from the tienda and remember all these things that I wish I would´ve said and forgot.  So i started writing everything down.  You guys are in for a long email.  I´m really going to work on the pics and getting a blog started so that you can just read when you want to.  In the meantime, you will continue to get these emails....  Lo siento! (sorry)
      So, I am currently at the end of the best week in Panama since i arrived, by far, absolutely no doubt about it.  This week was cultural week and I went in a group of 7 (with only one guy!) to Isla Gobernadora on the Pacific side of the country.  It is a small island of about 350ish people.  I stayed with a family, which turned out to be only one woman named Delia who happened to live RIGHT smak on the beach.  It was absolutely awesome to fall asleep listening to the waves crashing into the shore.  Still woke up to roosters at 5 am...b-c chickens are everywhere even on the beach.  Unfortunately for Delia (and I really do feel bad for her), she has heart problems and therefore is not able to eat much oily food.  Yeah!!!!  Therefore, I received tons of boiled food and such.  It was so so awesome!  You definately are what you eat and my body feels 100x better after eating boiled fish, soup, crema de maiz, boiled eggs, and some other stuff that you don´t know what it is that was boiled...  explain later...  On the way out to the island to start the wonderful week we randomly saw a humpback whale up very very close, about 10 feet away.  Then later that week saw several dolphins as we were on a boat ride to another island to swim on a different beach in the Pacific.  These beaches remind me of the ones you see on the movies or hear in books but never actually see.  They seem uninhabited practically.  You look around and instead of seeing giant condos and hotels you see palm trees, banana trees, and mountains.  That´s all, maybe a couple palm thatched houses, maybe if you´re lucky there might be a shop, but most of the time, no. 
      We didn´t really get a chance for all of us to fish but did watch one guy do it. They don´t use fishing poles, instead it´s like the wooden thing you see on kites, with just fishing line and a hook and a rock.  He got a big fish though just hanging the line out the back of the boat as we were moving, and we had it for dinner.  Talk about fresh fish, heads, skin and all.  It was great!  The crabs are everywhere on the beach.  Really bright purple and orange ones and more hermit crabs than I have ever witnessed in one place in my life.  We also learned to pillar rice, which is basically taking the dried out rice they pick in the fields (looks kinda like wheat) and using this thing that is hard to explain, i think it´s made out of some kind of rock and it´s a bowl shape but on a stand about 3 feet high.  You hit it with a giant wooden block like thing to smash the peels off of the rice.  Of course they don´t stop with just the brown rice b-c that would be too many nutrients, so they have to work harder to get pure white rice.  Also hiked up the mountains and saw the yucca trees, used a machete to dig into the ground and get the yucca out.  It is actually a root that you eat, sortof like a potatoe.  That was dinner, yucca and fish in a soup. 
      Many people did not have electricity there, however several families used solar panels and car batteries to rig up systems for some light and maybe a little black and white fuzzy tv for novelas.  So anyway, we left the isla today and are in Santiago for the night doing laundry and supper psyched b-c today for the first time in 6 weeks I will be able to take a hot shower.  We are staying in a hotel for the night for the shower, and hoping to get a little wine, perhaps some real cheese in a block and go out for a real dinner.  We hear there´s a place that is supposed to have real salads with dressing and all here, although sounds like Ranch is totally nonexistent.  Also heard of a cheescake bakery place that we are hoping to make it too.  Imagine the things to get excited about!  Saw a mirror today too, frightening!  No, it´s not a custom people are just poor and typically only own maybe one small mirror that is usually broken. 
      On the poor aspects....Panama is an absolutely beautiful country, but yes it definately is really poor.  The paper I received wasn´t kidding, all the houses are basically dirt floors and palm thatched roofs or concrete with tin roofs.  The city is sadder than the country though I think.  Then the people are smashed in these little apartments for a whole family and they look so dirty and miserable.  There are a lot of thoughts and concerns, confusion in my mind.  I have to admit that the first few weeks were really rough.  I definately was not sure how to take anything.  (I am doing much better now, it just takes some time to adjust and training is very straining...)  I still stop and wonder though, exactly how am I going to be able to help here.  I think that is probably a question that I will continue to answer for the next two years.  Right now, I do feel that this is basically hard core grassroot development.  The cultural exchange itself is something that will change lives.  It´s not really about telling people to do things this way or that, instead maybe it´s more about just teaching them about things they don´t know that will help that poor business, family or community survive, and providing different options to people.  It´s only one small group of people, but you have to start somewhere.  I think I will also continue to learn alot about myself, my life goals, etc. etc. 
      Ok - - - the life of a coconut....There are three palm trees you see with fruit on them.  One has lots of little fruits that are yellowish orange in color.  Those are peefas and I do not like them raw.  They taste like a weird sweet potatoe, but I hear that if you cook them they are not bad.  There are trees with green and with orange fruits.  Both of these when a color are called pepas.  You can eat them and drink the juice.  They are basically young coconuts.  Then they turn brown and fall off the trees so hard that they could easily knock someone unconcious and you hear them fall all the time.  Of course then to get to the coco you have to crack open two shells.  If you don´´t open them and they just sit there they will start to grow a palm tree out of them and root back in the ground and start all over.  Interesting, huh?  Took me a while to get that figured out with the spanish, and english mix problem. 
      Ok, so I need to check on my laundry and you are all tired of ready for now.  More later.  Take care.  Heading off to the mountains tomorrow.  See you guys!  Love, SHAZIA

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    • Niki Herron-Sawh
      Hello. If any RPCV s are looking for a job, RCI is hiring. Send me an email and I can give you more details. www.rci.com Thanks, Niki Herron-Sawh RPCV Guyana
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 27, 2006
        If any RPCV's are looking for a job, RCI is hiring. Send me an email and I can give you more details. www.rci.com
        Niki Herron-Sawh
        RPCV Guyana 03-05
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