We flew last night to Panama. We served in the Peace Corps here 2009-2010 and wrote about it here (there are links to the right). In the community where we lived on the Costa Rican border they produce some mighty fine coffee and some mighty lovely people, some of the most kind and intelligent people you could imagine. Under better circumstances they could go very far.
We did a few things while we were there that were helpful. We helped some of the locals find a better market for their coffee. We helped set up a local fair, which included booths and entertainment, including the two of us dancing to some international folk music, some traditional Panamanian dance, and a Thai woman performing traditional dance from that country. We produced a newspaper, helped get trash cans into the community, and set up a website for a local environmental group. Peg took some children to a development camp and taught budgeting at a local church.
So here we are again for a visit. Marivel met us at the airport. I did not think she would stop hugging us. It was really sweet. Her family lives in Santa Clara Chiriqui, in the highlands. We met her here last time and in fact she lives across the street from Hotel California, where we are staying again.
I think the international section of the airport is new, at least I do not remember it. You are fingerprinted at immigration. We saw some of the new city buses on the way into town. For decades and decades the people here have been stuffed into old school buses whose ancient diesel engines cloud the air with soot. I hope these work out better for them.
The highway into town requires a prepaid card, no cash. City streets are dug up making way for the metro. We ate a bit of dinner past midnight local time, 1 am our time and we caught up on the news of her family and made some plans for the next day. She’s staying with us for the day.
Today we plan to visit the Peace Corps office and perhaps our host family for our training period here.