Tuesday, January 13, 2009


My family came to visit for Christmas! They were my first visitors from the States, and their visit was incredible. We even spent Christmas in the village! We brought out two hams, wreath breads and fruits from the city, and shared Christmas dinner with my community. It was a beautiful dinner, and it gave my family a chance to get to know my village. Sure, there were lots of awkward silences given the language barrier, but through hand motions, smiles and thumbs up signs we got through it. And my family even stayed over a night in my hut, which means a lot for a family that’s never even been camping together! Together Annie, Danny, Mom and Dad braved the jungle, complete with bugs, mud and no indoor plumbing or electricity. I was so proud of them, and so touched that they took a time out to get to know where I live.. I think there was a moment where my host parents were standing next to my real parents together in my hut, and I just started to cry. I love my host family and this little village so much, and it was so incredible to share it with my real family.

Dad, as usual, using his mad carving skills to cut the hams.

Annie and Danny all cuddled up for a night in my hut...

My parents, still with big smiles the next morning!
Mom and Annie, on our trip to our waterfall the next day.
Here are pics some more pics from our trips around Panama (here Cerro Ancon, the beach at Santa Clara and dinner on the Causeway).

New Year’s Eve was equally amazing as Christmas. Together with the New Year, we celebrated the graduation of my architect, Aries, from high school. At 33 years old, he finally found the funds to go back and complete his secondary education. We were so proud of him! He’s in a picture below here spiffed up in a white collared shirt and tie that a friend of his bought him. He’s been such an inspiration to some of the younger community members, real proof that education doesn’t have age limits.

Mother´s Day

Panamanian Mother ’s Day was so much much fun! During the day, our village put together various, Field Day-ish games for the mothers. Then, at the end of the day, they put together a very traditional event. They tied some money and alcohol into a little bag, and roped it to the top of a 25- 30 foot pole, greased with oil the way up. The village mothers then proceeded to construct human pyramids to fight their way to the top for it. It was hysterical! After nearly 2 hours, a combination of men and women finally made their way to the top and split up the contents of the bag. A lot of a work for a small profit, but it was all in the spirit of fun (and it kept the village entertained for hours!)
Later, the men came back with arroz con pollo (chicken and rice, a very Panamanian dish). In past years, apparently they’ve cooked, but I guess this year they got a little lazy and bought the dish down-river. Probably best that way, as men here don’t cook too often!
Before they had the big meal, other village elders helped to bring out the abuelita of the village from her house. This abuelita is the great, great grandmother of the village. In our village we have 5 generations, and she is the head of them all, the oldest member of our community (her husband Emiliano, one of our founders, passed away several years ago). When they brought her out, everyone just treated her like a queen, from her own children to her great, great grandchildren.

Here she is, the abuelita, queen of Embera Drua!
Me and my host mama (translate to Embera: mu papa!)