Before I delve into the exciting long awaited site visit, I will tell a tale about my host current host family. I have baked things a few times for the family here, so; one night when we were watching television there was a cooking show on TV. My host mom asked me to write the recipe down so we could make it, and then they suggested I take a picture, but by the time we decided on a way to save the recipe it was off the screen! We watched the rest, about how to make it, and at the very end the cooking show lady said she had a facebook page with all the recipies! So, I found the recipe online the next time I was somewhere with internet and brought the recipe home. After discussing the ingredients, my host mom said she would get them so we could make the dessert that weekend. This epic tasty treat is called a “volcan de chocolate.” When I got back from working in the garden that saturday, we began to make the dessert. We started and all was going well AND THEN we realized there were only two eggs and we needed FOUR. So, my host sister ran over to her aunts house to ask for two eggs, but she only had one! My host brother then quickly shuffled out the door and came back 15 minutes later with three eggs from the store. Finally, with more than enough eggs, we continued to make the chocolate volcano. There are two layers to this volcano. First, you have to mix frosting and melted chocolate together and then freeze the mixture (this is for the center). Then, you have to mix eggs, melted chocolate, sugar, butter, vanilla, a little flour, etc..until suave. This mixture goes in cupcake molds and then gets a scoop of the by now frozen chocolate frosting mixture. This gets baked in the oven until it explodes like a volcano! Just kidding, it should not explode. Some of them might have, though. For some reason this was the most amusing thing ever; some of them were really tasty but one batch that we cooked too long actually looked like it exploded and was more rock like than anything. We brought them around to some neighbors and I gave some to some fellow aspirantes…all the while telling everyone that if they were bad it was my fault and if they tasted good it was the fault of my host mother, sister, and brother. I hope this was remotely interesting.
NOW: The moment I had been waiting for all throughout training — visiting my site for the first time! I just got back from a week in the community I will be living in for the next two years. There is currently a volunteer there, and we will be overlapping as volunteers there until the end of June. This has proven to be incredibly useful. Between the current volutneer, Lauren, and members of the community, I received a very comprehensive tour of the community. I have not visited every house yet, but we definitely did a lot of walking and talking! There is a verb, “pasear,” which literally means walking around to peoples houses and sitting on their porches and probably receiving a snack or some fruit or a juice drink or if you´re lucky maybe a meal or some sugar cane! This is how to get to know people in Panama. My first 3 months in site will probably consist of a lot of pasearing. I have met a lot of intersting people! Not only that, it is really incredibly beautiful. A few people live about and hour walk or more away from the center of the town, and on these walks there are some incredible views! I did not bring my camera around very much this week, but I definitely will in the future. Another really exciting detail: there are A LOT of coffee farmers! I have had some very tasty coffee. They sell a lot of it, but they also drink a lot of it! There are also a bunch of people who grow rice and other things like that. Plus, there are fruit trees everywhere you look.
As far as what my work will be like, I shadowed Lauren, the current volunteer, when she was working in the school and moderating the women´s group. She teaches environmental classes to a few grades and also has an English Club after school, which are things I will most likely pick up doing. There is also an already established group of women who make jewlery out of recycled materials (beads out of magazines, bags out of old snack bags or plastic shopping bags, earrings out of soda cans, among other things). I have also heard a lot of expressed interest in learning how to make compost and having home gardens. When we were there for our tech week of training, we had an “escuela de campo,” which is essentially a class outside, about compost. The woman I stayed with for this week was turning the compost since we made it near her garden, so I helped her do that this week. The first three months will be a lot of observation and getting to know everyone. If I had not said it already, it is really beautiful there and I am super excited to start my 2 years of service. Our swear-in as official Peace Corps Volunteers is quickly approaching!
If the captions don´t show up these are: myself and my community guide at the community entrance conference, my host family during training, playing dominoes,the room on stilts that I stayed in for the week (awesome, but not where I will be living for the first 3 months). and COFFEE BEANS in my site.