Hola from Panama! Before I start my first report I'm going to apologize in advance for not posting pictures. I will do that when I get some good ones but honestly, I'm super busy, a little lazy when it comes to figuring out that stuff, and I only have taken like 3 pictures. Que fracasa soy :)
But anyway... After a day and a half of paperwork and ice-breaking games in DC we left for the airport at 2:30am. Needless to say my welcome to Panama was a little dampened by my exhaustion and the crazy humidity that awaited us. After a full night's rest/coma, I was my old self again and can actually say after 6 days in the country, I'm starting to adjust to these crazy conditions that are the antithesis of northern California.
We're staying in military-base style dwellings at the moment and tomorrow we leave for our rural training sites to live with our host families and begin our next 10 weeks of preparation to be actual volunteers. Right now they refer to us as "aspirantes" because we're still in training. I had two interviews a couple days ago: one with my two bosses in charge of the Community Environmental Conservation sector, and one with a language instructor to find out what my skill level was. I absolutely love my bosses and they seem to like me and want me to do education, possibly with younger children. They're very discreet at the moment of what sites they have in mind for us since we still have much training to do. In about 3-4 weeks I will know which site I am being placed in. My language interview went well too. I think I am in a high-intermediate class more or less (you have to pass as intermediate in order to be sworn in) which is awesome because that means I am already at a level necessary to begin work.
Today we visited a current volunteer's site and got to learn how to plant mangroves, visited the local nursery where they were growing tree seedlings, and ate an amazing lunch of rice, lentils, coleslaw salad, and chicken straight from the yard. Yummy!:) While we were working sorting seeds I got to converse with a couple girls who are in the volunteer's environmental youth group. They were rad to talk to (when i actually understood what they were saying) and seemed to enjoy my descriptions of the "agua frio!!!" that we have on the california coast. The highlight of the day was that I was the only "gracefull" one to fall in the mud in the magrove forest about 10 minutes into the start of the day and got to spend the rest of the day with mud all over my butt. Very Catherine of me.
Overall this experience is positive but I will not deny that I feel overwhelmed at times. Someone here described Peace Corps as a roller coaster which is sooooo true. I've been way stoked at times and very sad at times too. It's hard when we have down time and I think of my family and friends and even feel a little guily for leaving. However the more I try and step outside my comfort zone in activities, interviews, and classes, the more I feel like I could really succeed here. When I think of being here for 2 years I really freak out so I've decided to take things one day at a time. It all seems more manageable that way.
Well sorry to rant on and on but this will be the last day I get internet access for a while. Tomorrow begins our training and I am both nervous and excited to meet the family that gets to take care of me and teach me Spanish for the next 10 weeks. As soon as possible I will update you all but for the time being know that I am well, happy, parasite-free, and loving all of you! Adios!