Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I think it's safe to say I've gotten caught up in my Panamanian life. So much so that its been months since my last blog post. (Its been since May...really?) Or maybe it's just laziness...but that's also a typical part of Panamanian life.  I've thought about writing a blog every few weeks but I always get stuck on what to write... My days start and end and nothing epic ever happens that makes me think, "I better hurry up and share that with the online world." But thats life anywhere right? Yet for some reason I started this damn blog... So here is a quick glimpse into my Panamanian life. The good, the bad, the ugly and the downright annoying.

Daily challenges: Life here is often full of daily challenges that I never quite expected. Who knew living on your own in a foreign country could be so difficult. Especially after all those months of pampering by my Panamanian mothers. Lets start with clothes. Hand washing jeans is miserable...after attempting to do it once, I decided to sweet talk my way into getting my neighbors to let me use their washing machine every once in a while. It works like a charm, as long as there is actually water and electricity, I'd say about a 50/50 chance. And if it happens to be rainy season when you get home and hang out your clothes to dry, it'll be about a good two weeks or so before there are dry enough to wear. If i don't get around to washing frequently, everything molds. Im not kidding. And theres no getting it out. The janitors at my school told me to use a lot of bleach and to just keep scrubbing. They offered to do it for me and I declined. But thirty minutes and raw hands later... That freaking mold was still sitting pretty all over my clothes... Note to self, next time say yes when the janitors offer to clean something for you.

Apparently, mowing your yard is not as easy as sitting on the couch watching TV, while your Dad does all the work. First you have to search for someone with a weed wacker. Then once that man tells you he is going to charge you $7 to do it, you go out and try to machete the grass yourself. Now that you have blisters all over your palms since the most your pretty little hands do is write in chalk all day, you complain to the janitors at your school. They tell you a man will do it for $4 with a machete but that the grass should be super long. So you let the grass grow. Meanwhile and quite unexpectedly, the kids at your school hold a secret fundraiser to pay the man $7 to mow your lawn since apparently not mowing your lawn is dangerous...something about snakes. Yeah, you would feel like crap too...

I know you're reading this thinking, okay where is the good. You all know I'm a bit of a pessimist. But heres something. A few days ago I was craving something fried. All I had in my house was rice and pasta which wouldn't do. So I went out to my backyard, machete in hand, in search of some yucca. Now, the first time I did this, my neighbor was able to sense my struggle within about thirty seconds and came to my rescue by digging up the yucca for me. This time I was feeling like i could conquer the beast myself so I went out past the latrine where no one could see me. The hard part about digging up yucca is you don't know what you're going to get till you pull out the root. Luckily you can just stick it back in the ground if it's too small. My kind of plant. Now if it's actually a big root, it can turn in to quite a struggle. I'll admit, I'm still learning the proper digging technique as I've only had two lessons. But after stabbing the ground viciously and repeatedly for a few minutes (worked out some of my anger issues), somewhat careful to avoid the yucca, and then pulling the tree and the root as hard as I could, I finally got the damn thing out and it was a good size too.   I triumphantly went back to my kitchen, muddy yucca in hand, and promptly failed at frying yucca. Don't ask. And yes I boiled it first.

Sleeping is another challenge in Panama that my unfortunate parents will attest to. The first noise upon awaking is a symphony of roosters singing across the mountain valley... Not as pleasant as it sounds. First one starts, then another off in the distance, followed by another one right outside my window and on they go for hours and hours. In fact, roosters in Panama never stop crowing. They go all day and all night. Come on guys, whatever happened to only crowing when the sun comes up? All those movies lied to us... The rainy season means colds for the roosters too and hearing their voices crack and gurgle has been some what entertaining if only for the fact that its not as loud. Dogs are the next big pain in the... There is over twenty living in the three houses around me and when one goes off about something they all go off. If I've made it to morning, it only means that my lovely neighbor will now start blasting tipico music at 6am. I thought I had suffered through the worst until a a group of ducks appeared a few weeks ago adding to the cacophony. But as I'm writing this I'm pretty sure I just heard one of the dogs kill one of the ducks. And now there is a very strange noise outside my house at night, my best guess is that's what a dying duck sounds like. To be honest, not very pleasant but thank god there will be one less noise in the morning.

I'll be back soon, I promise.

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