Thursday, March 11, 2010

Second Year Whirlwind...

It has been six months since the date of my last blog entry. I am officially a terrible blogger. The past six months have been a whirlwind, that’s for sure.

December 2009: Trip home to Chicago and New York for Christmas and New Years

I spent Christmas in the States, and as I wished, I got my white Christmas. Then I came back to Chicago for New Years. It was a wonderful trip home, and it was so good to catch up with friends and family. But I had forgotten what those winters are like up north. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy getting back to warm, sunny Panama after the Holidays….

January: Leschmaniasis

I am the only Peace Corps volunteer to have a repeat case of Leschmaniasis. The durned little parasite just wouldn’t die, so I had to go back for another round of 20 IV treatments at Paitilla Hospital in Panama City. This time around, however, I got to stay with dear Kate Jostworth in her sweet ex-pat apartment (complete with a kitchen and laundry machine!) It was much more comfortable then my budget hotel experience in November 2009. Kate has a wonderful group of friends in Panama City, and I had a great time playing city girl with her for 20 days (IV strapped to me and all!)

February: Visitors Galore!

Some of my dearest friends, Jacqui Vainik and Kim Lapaglia, and new friend, Jordan Wilkie, came to visit in February. We joined up with the other 2/3 of my trio, Elena and Kate, and some of their extended friends for carnival. It was a blast! We all crammed into Roberto’s house in Last Tablas again this year, and again his family was amazing to us. The next day we all took a boat ride to Isla Iguana, off the Pacific Coast. We spent the whole day recovering from the fun and working on our tan.

Friends loved the village as well! Eliecer taught Jordan to spear fish. Kim got to go on a canoe junta and iguana hunt! It was so wonderful for them to get to know my village so well. I’m so glad that some of my closest friends from home have gotten to know my village and Embera family.

March: Close of Tranchichi Tourism Group’s First Financial Year (March 2009)

It’s been a steep learning curve for our tourism cooperative. Before this year, finances were scribbled on bits of paper. Money from tourism entries was literally falling out from behind our treasurer’s loin cloth. We now do accounting and payroll via solar panels on our little Mini Dell Laptops. We’ve come a long way, indeed!

Although our finances are well managed, we still have a long way to go in accounting. IPACOOP came for its first year follow-up in February and nailed us for not keeping our books. Fair enough. Due to some hurtful gossip against her, the cooperative’s accountant had renounced her position. Still, our treasurer and I had been keeping good electronic records of everything. The corresponding paper receipts are another story (dear, dear Embera friends…so wonderfully active, so poorly organized). Still, we have all the information to retroactively register 2009’s incomes and expenses in our official IPACOOP books.

Next step: Building our 2009 Income Statement and Balance Shirt. March will be a busy month…

Moving Forward: Amy plans for Grad School

It looks like I’ll be attending Duke’s Fuqua School of Business next year, beginning in August 2010. I am thrilled; this MBA program has been my top choice. The school awarded me a Peace Corps Fellowship, in collaboration with their Center for Social Entrepreneurship. As much as I dread the day I have to leave Embera Drua, I can honestly say that I am thrilled about starting my next chapter….

New York at Christmas

Isla Coiba with Jacqui and Jordan

The Embera Amy