I was urged my many to create a blog so all could keep try of my adventures as I enter the next big part of my life... Peace Corps service in Panama! The bonus aspect of this is that it seems much more efficient than flooding everyone's inboxes with mass email updates for the next two years. You're welcome. So I'm 57 days away from heading to orientaion/staging, and I can't help but smile at how I wound up here, standing on a really big ledge about to jump into what will surely be the craziest, scariest, most amazing part of my life so far. So here goes...
Flashback to late January just over a year ago. I'm sitting on top of some kind of wooden tower at Tom's little resort on the Arajuno River in the Ecuadorian Amazon. I'm unsettled which in my mind is a combination of "sad" and "friggin pissed off". We visited the children of the Santa Barbara community today. Equipped with coloring books, balloons, and a soccer ball, we arrived to find a school with no teacher, a shoreline serving as a place for washing, drinking, and bathing, and the kids that turned out ot see what these gringos were up to. Following an afternoon of gift distributing and a soccer game where we were schooled by 5 year olds, we found ourselves on the other side of the river, relaxing in comfort in our lodgings that came complete with hot showers, electricity, a tree swing, and fully stocked kitchen. Sounds nice. So why was I in hell?
I left the group and climbed to the top of the tower to soak the day in. Amanda comes and sits with me and we talk about all we have experienced in South America. In the past month I have seen the impoverished coastal desert of Peru, the Quechua of the Andes, and the children in the Amazon. How many Americans do they see? Do they know what our lives are like? If they were to ask me why I should live comfortably while they struggle for survival how could I answer? This bothered me a lot. Up in that tower I told Amanda I would not be happy unless I volunteered after college.
On January 9th, 2008 I got to fulfill my map-nerd dream of standing on the equator. On January 9th, 2009 I received my invitation to serve in Panama as a Community Environmental Conservation Extension Agent. I am overwhelmed with excitement, fear, pride, insecurity and oh, every other emotion that one is capable of feeling. But I'm hopeful most of all that I after coming this far I'm on my way to accomplish what I set out to do a year ago. Feels pretty good.