Peace Corps Panama

Hello, welcome to my blog. I created this blog as I am preparing to leave to Panama for the next 27 months. I will be serving as a Sustainable Agriculture Systems Extension Agent. I will try to keep my blog as updated as possible. Come Visit and Stay tuned so that I can share this experience with you.

Hola, Bienvenidos a mi Blog. Me estoy preparando para ir a Panamá los próximos 27 meses. Voy a estar sirviendo como agente de Sistemas sostenibles de Agricultura. Tratare de mantener este blog lo más actualizado posible. Vénganme a visitar. Manténgase informados con mi blog para que pueda compartir estas experiencias con ustedes.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Week 3

(I wrote this on the technical trainer´s laptop yesterday)

Another week has gone by!

Right now I am in the living room at the house where I am staying. It is really difficult to see all the things that go on at this house right now. People always screaming at each other, the dog bit the 2 yearold kid that my host mom babysits on the leg...and she got mad a the little kid, having to hide the computer at times because ¨neighbors¨keep coming by to ask things, being hot and uncomfortable in this seat that is uneven and hard.....sorry about venting...but I´m just really appreciative of home (my home) right now.

But a little about this past week:

On Tuesday I ran and did laundry. I had so much clothes!! It had piled from the trip and from the week before. While I was doing laundry, Frankin, our tech trainer, came by and asked to speak with me and another one of the volunteers. He handed us both a list of documents that we had to translate by the end of the week. From there I went down to the school in hopes that I could talk to someone at the school about opportunities to help out. Unfortunately, the school was closed during sessions and no one could go in. So I went back home, but after lunch, I went by the school and was able to talk to the director and the science teacher. I set up an appointment with the science teacher for Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday I ran and went to my meeting. The teacher was really nice and gave me the last 30minutes of her Thursday morning classes to speak to her kids about the importance of gardens and its benefits. When I got out I had a meeting with Aimee, Franklin, and Elaine (our trainers) in reguards to my site placement. They talked about the site they were thinking about placing me in (vaguely) saying that with my background in animals, they would rather place me in an area with cattle farmers. They did mention the chance of electricity and running water!!! Can you imagine if that is true!! I don’t want to count on it since they are still going to play around with our sites until Wednesday next week (the 20th) where we will receive our PERMANENT SITES!!!

On my way home I was really happy because I got to talk to Leilani. She told me she was on her way home from FSU. I couldn’t believe it! A lot of us are going through so many changes right now, making decisions that could be life changing!

In tech class that afternoon we talked about conflict resolution. POCA: Problems, Opportunities, Consequences, and actions . It was an interesting workshop. When we got out of class I worked on the garden behind the class for a while with some of the guys spraying the plants with fertilizer and weeding. I quietly heard some of their frustrations and didn’t really know what to say because they were well founded, and I couldn’t think of anything to change his mind. All I could do was listen. When I got home, I learned that Peter was on his way to Kentucky. He’s become such a business traveler (last week he was in San Diego). Suzy called me that night too and we talked for a while about Miami and life…it was nice to hear about the world outside of the one here…lol.

The best thing about Wednesday night was that I found the channel where they show CSI MIAMI and LAW & ORDER!!!!! The bad thing is that it is at 10pm…which is REALLLY REALLY LATE for me here in my new sleep schedule.

Thursday Morning I gave the “charla” at the school to 6A and 6B. It was a lot of fun. It was interesting to see how much they new about agriculture and science.

During tech training in the afternoon I got to make bocacchi, an organic fertilizer.

Part of the recipe requires molasses. When I first smelled it, I was taken back to my childhood days when I used to go to Arauca (little town in Colombia down from our farm) to get molasses to give to the horses. I would have to dilute the molasses in the water with my arm. Since I was so little, I would have to stick my arm arm-pit deep into a 5 gallon bucket to stir. Debbie and Plata loved drinking it. When our group was asked to dilute the molasses for the bocacchi, I jumped at the opportunity. Surprisingly, I still had to put my arm in almost up to my armpit…I guess I haven’t grown that much.

When I got out I walked home and I bumped into some TEA people at the Bus stop. They told me I looked hard core since I had my rubber boots, my machete, and I smelled like molasses. We talked for a while, played 2nd grade games (miss mary mack…) and then we started playing a hilarious game of Hacky sack where tools and other body parts counted. We laughed so much that we couldn’t breathe at one point….it was really nice to laugh so hard that tears find themselves rolling down your cheeks without your permission or effort.


We went to Chorrera again! AIR-conditioning, fruits!!!, clean bathrooms with sinks!!! And soap!!, and chairs with cushions (and clothes over them that look like a fifteens party is about to take place. We started doing one skits that we had prepared the day before.

I got to dress up as a male Panamanian theif who stole the laptop from a female volunteer (played by Damian) who was flirting with another panamanian male (Michael )at the time. When Damian struggles to take the computer from me, I punch him in the face and run away. Unfortunately I get apprehended and arrested. The moral was that if someone tries to steal from us, don’t fight with them, let them have what they are after and run away yourself. If you fight, you run the risk of getting hurt. * note to self.*

After lunch some of the volunteers came over with deliveries that had arrived. I felt like I was in elementary again waiting to receive and invitation to a party or a gift at Christmas at a family reunion. Some people got little envelopes, others got huge packages and just as I was about to turn away, MY NAME WAS CALLED OUT. I was happy to receive something but even happier when Natalie (the girl giving out the deliveries) said…”it’s from the House of Love” with a huge question mark on her face….I just laughed because I knew it had to be from Peter!

I skimmed over the letters inside with a huge smile on my face trying to hold back the tears that were trying to squeeze out.

After the meeting in the banquet hall, we went to Grill Friends again (our favorite bar in Chorrera). We hung out there for a while and then took the bus back to Santa Clara.

I fell asleep as soon as I got home. Too many emotions for one day…


I couldn’t really sleep. At 4 in the morning I woke up. I had to go to the bathroom but was too scared to go outside. I layed awake in my bed thinking about everything that was going through my head, counting days, writing in my journal, and trying to relax. Finally it was light out. I went to the bathroom and went on a run. On the run I stopped and talked to a woman that I had been meaning to meet. He has a horse. But the horse is in terrible condition. It is really sad. She was really nice and gave me a tour of her home, introduced me to her daughters and nephews, and showed me her garden. I told her I would come by and help her whenever I could. Even if it just to bring the horse some platanos or molassas. After we met with the whole group to distribute work for the community analysis we have to present next week. Tensions were running high in the group but luckily we finished quickly. A group of us got together to start drafting a letter we want to send to Obama inviting him to our inauguration. We also plan on inviting Hilary Clinton, the Embassador of Panama, and the Director of Peace Corps. If any of you have any suggestions on how to go about this…PLEASE LET ME KNOW. I know it may seem farfetched to expect Obama to come down to panama at the end of June but I hope that he at least gets our letter. He has inspired all of us in the group in one way or another to serve our country. I will make sure to keep you all posted when we send out the letter and when we hear back from him!

Please feel free to call me and update me on your lives! I get out of class everyday at around 5pm!

Next week I findout the location of my site. Please pray that I don’t have to hike 2 hours and that I have running water (at least) if you want to pray for electricity too, that would be awesome….lol.

Love you all…MUAHH!!!


  1. incredible to see all the things your doing valeria!!! im so happy to see you with all those kids at the school....I will be praying for you and all those things you deserve. Keep doing an awesome job!!! TE QUIERO MUCHO VALERIA>>>im so proud of you

    Props to PETE.....u gotta lovee it....

    I also enojyed reading that your laughing to tears. I could just see you....keep smiling and laughing b/c it helps. When i was away i just remembering smiling at all the small things in life.....your making an incredible difference in the world and we are all proud of you

  2. Hey Beautiful! I will be praying that your site is just right for you :)

    I am glad that you are coping well with all the changes, and I'm really enjoying all the pics.

    Thanks for keeping us posted.
    Love You