Toucan Sam is alive and living with his adorable family right in the middle of rural Panama. He is a bit less colorful in person, and he was too shy to talk to me. But it was still nice to finally see him!
Ok… so it wasn’t a cartoon toucan, it was a real life toucan, which I think is cooler! They’re pretty rare, and today I saw about 4 of them! I nearly fell out of the hammock in excitement. True story.
Speaking of awesome animals… there is a surprising shortage of stereotypical “tropical” animals here. I have yet to see a monkey. I have seen sloths, but not here in my community (I’m sure that part of this is a lack of going out on walks to the more remote foresty areas where they are more likely to be found… but I’ve been busy). I have, however, had the full tropical bug experience.
Speaking of the bugs… they’re gross. I have seen spiders that look like they could eat me. I wish I were kidding. The first enormous spider experience was enough to last me the rest of my two years. I was innocently minding my own business getting ready to shower… when I grabbed my towel, and felt something. I then heard a “plop” and looked down to see a spider only ever so slightly smaller than my hand darting underneath my table. To say I shrieked is a bit of an understatement. I was scared to touch my towel for the next week… (Hell, who am I kidding… it still frightens me a bit). Then, yesterday, I was chillin’ (quite literally, since the water is about the only cold thing here) in the shower… when I looked up. (I’m noticing a trend here… spiders like to pester me when I’m showering or preparing to shower; either spiders are pervs or the universe is trying to tell me to shower less. I hope it’s the former.) I saw the most colorful spider I’ve seen thus far… but she was still huge. It was about the size of the palm of my hand, with long spindly legs, a green and white body… she was weird looking. Grossed out yet?
Speaking of showering… we don’t have water. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me to shower less! It’s always a bit amusing to me when it is pouring down the kind of rain I had only dreamt of before coming here, the sort of rain that makes it so you can barely see the road 10 yards in front of your house, and yet you turn on the tap and it’s dry. Then the lights will go out, just to make life that much more exciting.
Speaking of rain… do you have any idea how hard it is to get clothes to dry in this country?!? Thankfully, I have access to a washing machine. However, these are different here. You, for one, have to babysit them as closely as a toddler, because the agitator part is separate from the part that spins out the water, AND it doesn’t rinse. So, essentially doing laundry is an exercise in constantly switching clothing back and forth between different compartments of the lavadora and the sink, before finally hanging them out to dry during the few hours of sunshine we have this time of year. There’s nothing like having to sprint down the hill from the school with an umbrella in hand, trying valiantly and yet failing to keep you dry, to rescue one’s laundry from the oncoming Panamanian downpour.
Speaking of the school… I was informed of the potential for another super awesome project there today. Apparently IPACOOP, the Panamanian government agency that deals with cooperatives, wants the school here in my community to form a student cooperative. The profesora mentioned this to me today, commenting that she had no idea what they could make. My suggestion? Bread. If we get to follow through with this, it would mean the construction of an awesome wood-burning oven at the school (which would be a rockin’ pilot project for the potential construction of other ovens here! Woo!)! It would also provide my school with an opportunity to raise funds to do more, and better, activities! It would also mean that I would get to teach them how to make bread! I may also, in the future, get to teach them how to make everything from healthier baked goods like whole wheat bread, to very unhealthy stuff like chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, and cake! I’m just a little bit excited about this, if you can’t tell. Maybe we’ll get that far, maybe not. Maybe we’ll only make bread… but either way, I’m stoked!
Speaking of things that I’m excited about… I can hardly wait for our meeting on Wednesday! You can tell you’re in need for some quality time in the city when you have dreams about having a reason to actually do your hair. Yep. That happened. Last night I actually dreamt about straightening my hair. I was really excited about it too. Yes, I’m aware that’s really sad.
Speaking of things that are really sad… I’m thinking about going to sleep. It’s only 7:45 PM here. Yeah… I feel like Panama has almost officially converted me into an old lady. I say crazy things that no one understands, wear my hair in a bun, walk ridiculously slowly (so as not to fall in the mud… since the mud here is clay and more slippery than ice in my opinion), I’m always cold (even when it’s 75 degrees), and go to bed before 9. All I need is to pick up some knitting needles in the city. Actually, that’s not a bad idea… at least it’d give me something to do (and it’d give me a weapon to wield against the enormous bugs, or the bats that like to fly through my room at 2 AM, since I have yet to build up the courage to buy myself a machete. A note on machetes, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet, but they’re the multi-tool of Panama. Sorta like a Swiss Army knife… only without all the other nifty tools. People use them to open cans, cut their grass, chop down small trees, kill stuff… you name it. I, however, am much more likely to take off my own leg with a machete than do any of the aforementioned things with one. They’re harder to handle than you’d think.).
Well.. the our electricity just went out for real… I guess now I don’t have to feel quite as pathetic going to bed at 8 (since it gets dark here at 7)! Yay!