Saturday, April 25, 2009

Aqui en Panama!!!

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!


  1. Well thank goodness for being parasite-free!!! As for feeling guilty I think you have the roles reversed. It is us who are still sitting on our butts back here that should be the ones feeling guilty. You are taking action while we, or I, am just talking about it. Congrats on making it through your first almost week. Ciao

  2. mmm... chicken from the yard. Sounds delicious! Its OK to feel overwhelmed. You'll get the hang of things in no time. Just know that everyone in Cali if rooting for ya! I cant wait to hear what your assignment is. Even when your knee deep (or flat on your butt) in a mangrove forest, don't forget to step back, take a deep breath, and remember what an awesome opportunity this is!
    I love you and miss you so much! Stay safe!
    Love, Eva

  3. love mangroves ... and the sweet mud so easy to slide into. Reminds me of other great field experiences. Cat you're so great! I can't imagine anyone being more well suited for what you're doing -- just remember we're enviously sitting here excited for you, vicariously enjoying but also sympathizing, rooting for you.

  4. i no you will love it,everything takes time getting used to,this is a great opportunity for you and everyone that will meet you because you are a ggggggreat person and at the end of 2 years they wont want you to leave ,love always cousin jeff

  5. Oh my honey! i'm so happy that things are going well :) I love that you slipped in the mud! i can just see it now!!!! :) I am going to watch idol for the second time with out you tonight so i will give you another emial in the next couple days and let you know who the next to go will be. I love you so flippin much!!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

  6. Jessica O'NeillApril 28, 2009 at 10:16 PM

    I bet you looked hexy and sot with mud on your bootay. It sounds like you are doing awesome there...even though you can't see me everyday. When you get sad about friends and fam, just think of me in the ice cream freezer at Albertsons and I'm sure you'll get a huge smile on your face. LOVE YA and MISS YA times a million!!!!!!!!!!

  7. we love you and miss you ,hope you will love it there and be safe and happy,love always auntie babe

  8. Cat! I'm so happy/proud/jealous of you!! Work it out girl!

  9. Cat! I'm with Jessica on this one! I bet you looked sot and hexy in that mud! I look forward to reading more about your wonderful experiences in panama. It's great to hear your voice even through a blog :) bueno suerte chiquita! Ciao ciao!! Muah -Janna


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