Sunday, June 20, 2010

Oh the books I've read...

In Peace Corps that is. The following is my list of all the books that I read in Peace Corps. Some I loved, some I hated. Here goes in order from the first book read to the last....

1. Redeeming Love
2. Dante's Inferno
3. Tao Te Ching
4. The Posionwood Bible
5. The Alchemist
6. Running with Scissors
7. Bluebeard's Egg
8. Water for Elephants
9. Eat, Pray, Love
10. Shalimar the Clown
11. Wilderness Reader
12. Million Little Pieces
13. Congo
14. Kingdom of Fear
15. Sailing Alone Around the Room
16. She's Come Undone
17. Lolita
18. The Outsiders
19. In Her Shoes
20. Sphere

21. Eleven Minutes
22. A Thousand Splendid Suns
23. Memoirs of a Geisha
24. The Nanny Diaries
25. The Last Juror
26. Kite Strings on the Southern Cross
27. Berdolf Blondes
28. Reading Lolita in Tehran
29. Lay Down with Lions
30. Getting Over it

31. Sick Puppy
32. Me Talk Pretty One Day
33. Can You Keep a Secret?
34. Girls of Riyah
35. The Other Boyln Girl
36. Four to Score
37. Truth Seeker
38. The Noble Fugitive
39. Body Surfing
40. One Flew oVer the Cucoo's Nest

41. Their Eyes were Watching God
42. Chances
43. The Life of Pi
44. Seeking Fame
45. Hard Eight
46. Twilight
47. To the Nines
48. Ten Big Ones
49. Two for the Dough
50. Midwives

51. Outlander
52. One Fifth Avenue
53. Salem Falls
54. Year of Wonders
55. The Lady in the Tower
56. Unbridled Dreams
57. Little Earthquakes
58. The Copper Scroll
59. CSI: Binding Ties
60. Third Degree

61. 4th of July
62. Sex and the City
63. Dune
64. The 5th Horseman
65. The Pillars of the Earth
66. 2nd Chance
67. The Simple Truth
68. One for the Money
69. The Blindman of Seville
70. The Second Summer of the Sisterhood

71. Animal, Vegetable, Mineral
72. Angels and Demons
73. Prey
74. Loving Frank
75. The Mermaid Chair
76. Shooter
77. This Present Darkness
78. Night Journals
79. The Monsters of Templeton
80. Sex, Murder, Frapacino

81. Catching Genuis
82. The Teeth of the Tiger
83. Naked
84. Journey
85. Devil in the White City
86. Cuba
87. Bound South
88. The Great Influenza
89. Trojan Odessey
90. The Memory Keeper's Daughter

91. Persepolis
92. My Horizontal Life
93. The Glass Castle
94. The Legacy of Luna
95. The Lost World
96. Atonement
97. Jemima J.
98. Beyond Innocence: Autobiography of Jane Goodall
99. The Man in the High Castle
100. Veil of Roses

101. The Power of One
102. Sleeping with Schubert
103. Orchid Fever
104. The Last Lovely City
105. The Professor and the Mad Man: Making the Oxford English Dictionary
106. Picture Perfect
107. Nineteen Minutes
108. Under the Banner of Heaven
109. The World Below
110. The Female Brain

111. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
112. Tomboy Bride

Books half-read and never completed:

1. Anna Karina
2. Atlas Shrugged
3. The Great War

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

¿Mä tä dre noine?

I´ve been getting that question alot from people in my site and from all of you out there in the United States of America. It´s Ngabare for "What are you doing?!"

And since it´s been a good 6 months incommunicado I thought I should at least write a short bit, bare my soul and all that.

1. Building a library. We have a room in the school with old desks, National Geographic maps that I laminated, and 3 boxes of books. Since we had zero books before and no room I think it´s a big improvement. The equivalent of the PTA and the principle have been really awesome helping me out with it. Along with BESO and WorldCare for the book donations. (Have to give a shout out somewhere!)

2. Building those idealic cabañas on the beach. Yeah. We do those.

3. Teaching lots and lots of English. If you want to practice "I am pretty" with my people, come on out.

4. Giving health talks on AIDs, HIV, STDs, and personal hygiene. Here on the penisula we have an alarming rate os AIDs, HIV, and STDs. Before Peace Corps, I always thought they just existed in Africa. Living here has opened my eyes.

5. Drinking ice cold Coca-Colas from a glass bottle.

6. And pretty much anything else. From study hall teacher, tourism consultant, librarian, health worker, and the occasional hairdresser I tend to do it all.

Love you all. Thanks for still reading. Someday I will post pictures. I promise. I just have to get around to it.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Piojos that bind us

The other day my head was itching. Assuming it was just dry scalp, I bought some head and shoulders and stopped washing it everyday. However, the itching didnt get better, it only got worse, and worse and worse.

Knowing that there are kids with piojos (lice) in my community, I asked my fellow PC Volunteer, Joanna, to check my head out. She looked, and said, Nope, youre good. You dont have lice. (But then again since we really dont get lice in the US, we really dont know what it looks like either)

So the next day I had my host sister, Mona, look through my hair. When she parted my hair she said, Xuacala! Su cabeza es llena de piojos!! (Shoot, your head is full of lice).

What happened next showed my how much the women in the community care for me. Me being the single, white, female...without a man, and without babies, Im odd in my community to say the least.

Two woman sat me down and searched, and combed and scratched and turned my head raw from all the work. Then my host sister washed my hair twice, scrubbed it even more raw, and combed it over and over and over agian.

Throughout the whole week, anywhere I stopped the women would look through my head over and over again.

Now it might sound gross. Because it kinda is. But when it happened, I saw how much they care and how much I am a part of the community.

My counterpart said it best, he said, Chame, youre no longer a gringa, youre an indian, just like the rest of us.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Me Vale Todo

So it's been one year since I've been gone. Almost. I've gotten used to odd things, wierd things. Getting used to life without electricity, cars, cell phone service, and speaking a couple of different languages. I guess I'm constantly adjusting.

Case in point:

The other day, Melchiades peed in my foot wash bucket. (We place a bucket with water outside of each house so that people clean their feet before entering.) So I just laughed and had him throw out the water and refill it. Odd right?

Arriving to Bocas del Toro in a dug out canoe with a 15 horse power motor. It took me 4 and a half hours. The guys ended up catching a fish.

My community believes in Chino Rojos, Red Chinese that prowl the shores of my penisula looking for people that they can kidnap and then steal their organs. Everytime they mention it, I nod seriously while thinking "Really?!!?!?!?"

Trying to explain to a child who just lost his tooth how the toothfairy works. I think I ended up telling him that witches in the night come in, steal his teeth, and if you are good they give you money.

Going to bed at 7:30 mainly because the sandflies are eating you alive. And the safest place to retreat is your mosquito net over your bed.

Explaining the history of Lacoste to the apostolic pastor in a vain attempt to liven up the general conversations I normally have. I ended up telling him the history of the polo shirt, and he just stared at me open mouthed.

Telling a little girl that she is smart enough that if she studied hard, she could be a teacher. Her face lit up.

I finally got a funnel and a tube going out of my bathroom....hey, I'm not peeing in tin can anymore!

Kids looking at me surprised when they find out that I do know how to cook pixbae. And then being more surprised how it is somehow better than their moms.

Watching the movie Black Hawk Down for a month straight in the health center. We didn't have any other movies to watch.

Buying cold oranges that were refrigerated with the healh center's refrigerator. I'm pretty sure it's only for vaccinations, and oranges???

Getting into a boat without flashing everyone.

Talking to my closest volunteer through notes. Like the ones that you used to pass in class. Only she lives a 40 minute hike away.

Sitting in your hammock during a earthquake, not doing anything cause you think the neighbor kid is just jumping on your porch.

Reading over 45 books. Woo-hoo for literacy.

Seeing first hand the effects of malnutrition.

Realizing that not everything is sustainable.

Getting to walk up to tourists on my beach, welcome them, ask them where they are from, etc. And when they ask me, I say, "I live here". I love their reaction to when they find out a gringa lives in paradise.

Knowing that my clothes are clean (As I just washed them) and knowing that they still smell like jungle funk.

Getting that two year tan/burn/tan/burn

Never wearing a bikini, much less swimsuit on a beach.

How to surf with a wooden board. Like the kinds that we used to build my house.

That I really do love teaching children, I miss rock and roll music, and I can dance a mean jiguie.

And that's about it.
Holla at your girl,

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Peace Corps Panama Packing List

Here is a list of the essentials of what you need to pack:
+ Headlamp. You will use it all the time
+ Tampons. They are expensive here.
+ Make-up. You will use it. They dress up here, it´s not like you permanently live in the jungle. And it´s more expensive over here.
+ Chacos. Bring a pair or two. I live in them.
+ Longchamp purse. It´s made out of a canvas/nlyon/waterproof material. It´s functional, easily cleaned, and fashionable.
+ A sleepsack. Mine´s silk and packs up really small.
+ Sleeping pad. (Unless you go to a ye-ye sight, you will use it alot).
+ Victoria´s Secret Underwear. The underwear is really cheap here.
+ A pair of sheets. (Do you really want to sleep on polyester sheets??)
+ Sunglasses.
+ I-pod
+ Crappy lap-top.
+ I brought a bunch of cds and dvds (I still use them to update my ipod.)
+ A pair of flip-flops, and a pair of wedges. (Don´t bring hiking boots, you don´t use them. I brought a pair of running shoes and they are just molding under my bed.)
+ A pillow. (I love my pillow)
+ Airplane blanket. It does get cold here sometimes.
+ A water-proof, crush-proof camera. Go with Olympus.
+ A thumb drive.
+ Swimsuit. A must.
+ Swim goggles. ...but only if you swim alot.
+ Backpack. I have a Dueter. And I love it.
+ Jewlery. Bring the cheap stuff. Leave the good stuff at home.

+ A couple of pairs of cute clothes, and then just clothes you don´t care about. You will wear your crappy clothes in site, but in the city, you should dress up.
+ I bought a mountain hardware skirt. I practically live out of it. Buy one.
+ Tank tops from Wal-mart. Like 5. You´ll be good.
+ 2 Polos.
+ 5 Skirts.
+ 2 Jeans. (One for when you are skinny and one for when you get fat)
+ 3 pairs of Shorts.
+ One dress. (You will wear it to swear in and that´s it)
+ 3 Long sleeve shirts. I live on the beach and it does get cold.
+ 1 Northface jacket.
+ 1 Umbrella. (Rain jackets are ugly and bulky).
+ 5 T-shirts.
+ 2 pairs of running shorts.

That´s it. Don´t pack a ton of clothes. You will regret it. Mainly cause you will have to haul it all around. In Panama you can buy alot of stuff, so don´t worry. Unless you are a larger person, most clothes will fit you. If you have questions, holla.

True Story of the Ngobe Description Variety

The other day I was at the phone trying to call a friend and make plans for surfing for the millionth time when the phone rang. I answered it and the conversation went something like this....
Jamie: Alo?
Random person: Alo, blah blah blah, spanish, spanish, spanish, want to speak to spanish, the daughter of Adino.
Jamie: Great, wait a minute.

So I put the phone done and go to the nearest house to find out who is Adino and where they live to give the message.

Jamie: There is a call for Adino´s daughter. Where do they live?
Ngobe: Por alla (translation, over there)
Jamie: Where?
Ngobe: Por alla! (followed by a lip point in some random direction)
Jamie: Sorry that doesn´t help. Which por alla?
Ngobe: Pues, por alla, arriba. (translation,¨well over there, up there¨
Jamie: Thanks (for nothing)

So I walk and search for someone else who is more descriptive.
Jamie: Where does Adino live?
Ngobe: Por alla.
Jamie: Can you be more specific.
Ngobe: Por alla. (lip point) alla, alla. (more lip pointing).

Frusterated I ask the person next to them.
Jamie: SO what house?
Ngobe: Por alla, the big house.

Glancing at the houses, none of them look very big.

Jamie: Which big house.
Ngobe: The one with the cross.

Ah finally the answer I have been searching for. Thank you for being soooo descriptive.

Want another example?
This one also happened when I was by the phone.
Ngobe: Jamie, who was that gringa that was here that day?
Jamie: Which day?
Ngobe: You know, that day.
Jamie: Um... what did she look like?
Ngobe: She was a gringa.
Jamie: Ok, was she tall?
Ngobe: No
Jamie: What was her hair like?
Ngobe: Her hair is like yours.

Realizing this isn´t going anywhere because none of my girlfriends visiting me have my type of hair, I end up guessing names. And finally I picked the right one. (The gringa they were talking about has dark chocolate brown hair down to her waist. Last time I checked my hair is blond, shoulder length and curly).

Yay for descriptions

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Somewhere in between

Lately I´ve been feeling like Alice in Wonderland who fell down the rabbit hole. One minute I´m eating boiled bananas, chatting in ngobe/spanish with my host mom about my host father´s latest dalience and the next minute my world is transformed into a world of professional surfing and yachts.

Now I really didn´t sign up for Peace Corps for this. No latrines, ameoba ridden water, mud up to my knees...well yeah. I mean it is Peace Corps right? But I didn´t expect the yachts and surfers.

On Valentines day I get a call from some friends who were in the area and suggested that I stop by and see them. ...They just happen to live on a 35ft wide yacht. They are soem of the nicest people I know adn have been more than generous with their cheese platters and sound tourism advice.

On my way to visit my friends in the bay I stop in Nidori and see about 8 surfers and a bunch of of film equipment. Apparently they were making a new surf video. Along with them was some guys from Surf magazine souting the spot for a feature. I guess we are lucky after all.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Holla at your girl

My dad once said that if you never write it down you will forget the experience. So here goes. I got evacuated out of my site due to an earthquake, a hurracane, landslides and flooding. On Monday night a couple of weeks ago Panama and Costa Rica was hit with an earthquake. To be honest, I slept through it and thought my Ngobes were playing a practical joke on me. (Which they love to do). The earthquake made some ground settle...ya, ya, ya. And then the tail end of a hurracane hit. Normally where I live we get 4 days of crappy weather and then it clears up. But after 2 weeks of torential downpoar it tends to effect the land and the ocean. We got up to 10 feet waves and no one could leave the island. To make it even harder the port town where we get our supplies was hit with flooding and collapsed bridges. And to make it even more extreme, the road from the city to the port town was hit with landslides and almost 50 kilometers of road was wiped out.

ANd I do what I normally do in stressful situations, I cook and eat. And it's probably a good thing that I like to cook cause I was stuck in a house with Joanna (my partner in crime), Judy (another partner in crime), a stranded tourist and guide. We rotated cooking shifts and I had some of my latino professors cook. I know, latino men normally don't cook, but my friend JC can COOK.

My friends and I ended up buying a live rooster for a thanksgiving bird. But my cocinero peaced out on the earliest boat (and I have no idea how to kill a rooster, let alone the courage). So for turkey day, we celebrated vegetarian style with mashed potatoes, carrots, gravey, rolls and cookie pie.

Um eventually we all went a little crazy and slightly cracked. We ended up getting off the island through a police boat. (3 girls, 10 police men with machine guns, one messed up ocean and 200 hp boat = good times) arrived on Bocas Island and flew out to Panama City.

I know random and there are more stories to come.