Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A few bumps in the road...

So last week Matt and I were apart from one another. Matt and his evironmental health group were building latrines near where he and I will spend the next couple of years. It was especially rainy last week and on Wednesday he was pushing a full wheelbarrow down a really rough dirt road and he flipped over the wheelbarrow and landed on his right shoulder. The next day he had to travel to his sector conference (to meet all of the current volunteers in his program) so he decided to not seek immediate medical attention and see if it would improve with time.

On Saturday afternoon he travelled to see me and realized that he should get an X-ray. So first thing Sunday morning we got up and went to the hospital. They took a regular X-ray but it didn´t show anything. The orthopod who saw him assumed he had torn his rotator cuff, but told him he would need an MRI to see the damage. So, Matt talked the the PC medical office and they suggested he travel 6 hrs. back to Panama City for an MRI. So, he left first thing on Monday morning. He had the MRI on Tuesday afternoon and will get the results today. They suspect it´s a minor tear based on his mobility.

His injury sounds very familiar to me! Unbelieveable!

On Monday morning I headed to where Matt and I were supposed to spend the week. I went to what the PC calls ¨Cultural Week¨ aka when you live in a community near and/or similar to your permanent site. I lasted until yesterday afternoon! I had diarrhea all day on Sunday into early Monday morning. However, I then started to fell better, but couldn´t eat much food. Then on Monday night I woke up with a sore throat, so that on top of intense stomach pain resulted in a trip to the private clinic an hour and a half a way. So, last night I stayed in a hotel with my regional leader (a third year volunteer who stays on to help other volunteers in site), who´s really nice. Anyway I have to go back to the doctor again today so they can figure out if I have a bacterial infection, etc. Luckily, the clinic is within walking distance from the hotel (although yesterday we took a cab because I couldn´t walk!) I´m feeling better today, but still on edge, if you know what I mean.

So yeah, please keep us in your prayers! We need them this week especially!!


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Our site announcement

On Wednesday they announced where we´ll be spending the next two years. We´re going to the indigenous reservation 1 hour from where we visited a couple of weeks ago. I´m going to be working with one of the largest artisan cooperatives in Panama. The group has around 50 members and all but a few of them are women. They even have a store where they sell their goods, which include dresses and bags. It sounds wonderful. I´m going to help them with basic accounting and marketing. Many of them can´t read or write so it will be a challenge.

Matt is going to be teaching health education, nutrition, and perhaps English, as well as digging some latrines and working on the aqueduct, which has some problems. There has only been one other volunteer in this site and that was 8 years ago, so we are essentially starting from scratch. Matt and I are now learning the indigeous language. It´s an historically oral language and ah, is proving to be a bit difficult to learn, but I´m sure it will be fine.

We will have running water during the rainy season (8 months out of the year). During the dry season we´ll have running water 2 hrs. a day. Whether or not we´ll have electricity will depend on where we live in the town. There are 1,500 people in the town, which is quite sizable, but one has to keep in mind that these people are spread throughout the mountains and not really very close to one another. We will have a half hour chiva (4 wheel truck) ride to our site from the main road. It is about a 1 1/2 hour hike if you can´t catch the chiva. I haven´t seen the road yet, but I´m positive it´s a dirt road.

There´s another volunteer who lives a 1/2 hour walk from us. Another volunteer Steve, who in our group, will live 1 hour from us, which is excellent because he is an engineer and Matt may need his expertise from time to time. There is only one other volunteer from my group going to this reservation and he will be a couple of hours from us. He´s a native speaker and a computer genius so I´m psyched to have him somewhat close to us. He´s also a New Yorker. He´s from Long Island.

Another thing that Matt is very excited about is that we are going to be in coffee country! And our site has coffee opportunities. So, all sounds good at this point. Right now I´m at the mall in Panama City on my way to a city in the middle of the country for my week long technical training. I get to stay in a hotel. Matt is ah, headed back to the reservation to build latrines all week. He will be staying with a host family. Pobrecito!

After this week, Matt and I will travel back to Brian and Amanda´s house in the reservation (see previous post) for our cultural week. We will stay with a host family for the week.

I´ll try to post a few messages this week. I´m sorry there are no photos of Matt!! He´s the photographer and I´m the blogger. I´m not quite sure how this all came to be. It should be the other way around! I have the camera with me this week, but next week I´ll be sure to take pictures of him. He´s loving life!

Peace out.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Trip to the mountains

A group of our friends hanging out after classes one day.

Amanda, Brian and Lisa on the mountain. We stayed for the weekend at their house.

This area is being farmed by Ngobe families. It is totally beautiful.

Views of the Pacific ocean from the mountaintop.

Isn´t it gorgeous here?

This house was built by a volunteer who lives near Brian and Amanda. He has spectular views from the front of his house.

Brian and Amanda´s house.

Hey, hey, hey.

I’m posting some pictures from our trip to the indigenous reservation in the western highlands. We had a great time with our hosts, volunteers Brian and Amanda. They cooked for us every day and were very generous hosts. On Saturday we all took a five hour round trip hike to the top of a mountain. We could see the Pacific on one side and more mountains on the other. We absolutely loved the people we met and hope to be placed over there.

We find out of Wednesday where we’ll spend the next two years. We’re so excited! We have an idea about where we’ll be, but we don’t want to jinx it. Oh, in other news, one of our host family’s chickens had 5 babies. They are so cute. Some are black and some are yellow.

We still have Spanish classes everyday. My class is organizing a softball tournament and I’m helping with organizing people to make food to sell, etc. We’re hoping to raise enough funds so that we can buy books for the library. Right now there are about 50 books total in the library and none of them are for children. It’s rather sad.

We’re also hoping to start a reading program at the library. We chatted with the librarian and she said that they don’t have any programs at the library. She had never heard of a program where parents take their children to the library to hear a story. I told her it was very common in the U.S.

Matt’s technical training is going very well. Yesterday his entire class spent the day building a latrine for a family with little means who lives outside of the village. He’s a bit sore today. We’re staying very fit despite the excessive carbohydrates. We have two large hills that we climb to get just about anywhere.

We’ll email on Wednesday to let everyone know where our site will be. If you haven’t noticed, we can’t mention specifics on the blog (PC regulations).

Hasta pronto…

Lisa & Matt