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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

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Our nerviousness this morning was subsided when we took our first ride
down one of the thirteen cables. We all managed to "break"
significantly each time, which means we didn't pull a "George of the
Jungle (Jorge de la selva)" and crash into a tree. Although it felt
like each ride went by so fast, we were able to pass over two
waterfalls and a lot of trees. We met (many) interestig and calming
guides who were pros at ziplining, even upside down and with no hands!
Afterwards we ate lunch at an American-like restaurant that was part
of the company's building, it even had American prices (gahh) and
American music (which we haven't heard in so long...especially Party
in the USA). Turns out we were hungry after, we figure that American
food doesn't fill us up as much after all this rice and carbs!

During the second part of class, my class (three Canadians and I) and
Caeley, Jess, and Alex's class went on a field trip together since we
are now all in the same level. Our hilarious teachers, Erica and
Ismenia, took us to Valle Escondido, a private and gated community,
mainly for retired Americans. And we really found out how the place
got it's name of Hidden Valley, there really are no people inside...in
the beautiful country club, on the pristine golf course, tennis court,
or horse stables. It was very very odd but felt like a dream village
and that we lived there. But then, the dream stopped when we entered
the pool area...it was blue lighted, steamy, and had creepy horror
music that was supposed to relaxing. It felt like a murder scene,
especially since there were no people around. It was eerie and we were
glad to get outside to the living world.

Our teachers took us into the ampetheatre where we played charades in
Spanish. Afterwards, we continued our walk through the beautiful
community, and did not see another soul except for the Panamanian guys
who were employed to walk the "rich people's" dogs!

And don't worry Brie and Rachel, we did get our daily ice cream snack
before the field trip (although Jess didn't).

¡Hasta mañana!

Con amor,
Jessica (aka gatita), Caeley (aka ching ching), Alex (aka ALEXCHIN),
and Hannah (aka Hannah Montana)

After Zip Lining!

This is us after our zip line experience! We were all really hungry and had a bit of difficulty readjusting to walking without harnesses.

We just finished ziplining! It was exhiliarating and fast and fun! The
longest stretch was 400 meters, but it only took about 15 seconds to
complete since we were all going so fast! We are about to eat lunch,
but we have pictures and videos of it to upload after class today.
XOXO,
J, C, A, and H

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We are going to a dinner with the school tonight and it starts at 7,
so we have some to time to hang out before it starts! We found a
really nice bakery called "Shalom Bakery" (although Jess hasn't found
any typical Jewish foods here yet) and they have free wi-fi which we
are currently using. We bought a few pastries to snack on (only 30
cents each!) and we are working away on various things- Jess is
figuring out her classes for Duke, Caeley was talking to her parents,
Alex was just chilling, and I am writing this blog post for you all!
We had a good and filling lunch this afternoon at a restaurant called
Nelvis before our class started. During class it began to rain and
thunder, but by the time class ended, it stopped! In our 20 minute
break, Jess, Caeley, and I got our daily ice cream, it's only 1$ for
three scoops, ¡Que barato! (how cheap!). Anyways, we will be going to
dinner soon, and just wanted to give y'all an update! Hope you are all
surviving the heat!
XOXO, J, Caeley, Alex, and Hannah

Alex and Jess watching the game!

Watching the Paraguay-Japan soccer game outside the school! It's a
beautiful day, breezy and cool!

El Rio de Chiriqui, antes de que fueramos a la finca

This is the river that runs through Boquete. We crossed over and then climbed the mountain to check out the coffee farm that my (Alex) family owns. This was taken Friday, 25 June.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

La mula (The really big Truck)

bocas and back...

Sunday continued the fun in Bocas when after a breakfast of pancakes and eggs and a lot more, we set off to go snorkeling and beach lounging. On the boat ride, we got to meet some dolphins. They were swimming right near where we were---we wanted to jump in and swim with them! Snorkeling was amazing too...the coral and fish were so colorful. Hannah even found some Brouhton colored coral :) The clear water is so incredible.

At the beach, (well besides getting just a tad of sunburn...) we enjoyed the water and a much needed siesta. We also had a yummy picnic lunch of sandwiches, fruit, nachos, and cookies.

Little did we know that leftover food would be in such high demand later! On our way home, we ran into an interesting situation...a huge truck that was blocking the entire road! Ay de Mi! So it was almost six and when we asked how long it might take until we could pass, we heard anything form 3 hours to "manana" (tomorrow). Needless to say, we decided to take the bus home to our Panamanian families (who we were quite missing). So off we went, crawling under the truck with all of our stuff, in the rain, and hopping on a bus to David. By the way, it was so crowded the aisle was not visible! The music was nice though...not really possible to dance to because of space limitations :) but we finally made it home safely to our families and dinner around 9:30. whew. and showers and sleep were wonderful.

We very much enjoyed Bocas and our Gran Aventura.

Mucho amor y abrazos (much love and hugs),

Jess, Alex, Hannah, and Caeley

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Picturas!




Bocas del Toro (aka Bocas del Beautiful)

Our day began bright and early and before the sun, at the hour of 5:30am. Only one other guy came on the trip, although there were three others from the school who came separately. We rode in a 2010-styled-VW-like-bus, it felt like we were hippies. The music was Spanish rap and helped wake us up! We zipped through the mountains, and at times it felt like we were on roller coaster! But don't worry, we are alive and breathing.
The mountains were gorgeous, massive, had tons of waterfalls, and we had the best view of the valleys and hills of Panama. We had to take a boat to get to Bocas since it is an island, the water was clear and green!
Upon arriving to Bocas, we watched South Korea score a goal on a TV, and then walked to our hotel, which is quaint and cute. Caeley, Jess, and I are rooming together and Alex is in a room with the other guy, Eric (who is French Canadian and speaks very good English and Spanish).
We then took a boat for a long time in the hot, intense sun to Isla Pajaros, a small island that you are not able to dock on or walk on. It's full of animals and we saw many birds!
Afterwards, we took the boat to Bocas del Drago, another part of Bocas del Toro, which is just absolutely gorgeous. It didn't seem real, it seemed like a postcard! We ate lunch there at a restaurant in the sand while watching the US/Ghana game...what a shame that we lost :(
The food was good, but way overpriced compared to our $2/day food costs last week!
Our tour guide took us on a long walk along the coast line and we ended up at a really nice swimming place which had a ton of starfishes! Our boat picked us up there and took us back to where our hotel is. This ride was much nicer since the sun wasn't as strong, the breeze was nice, and the view was (again) gorgeous. We have muchos picturas to show you all!
Right now, we are hanging out and resting at our hotel (which has wi-fi!) until cenar (dinner).
X0X0, Jessica, Alex, Caeley, and Hannah

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hoy Fuimos a la Finca! (Today, we went to the coffee farm)





As per the title of this post, we went to a coffee farm! It's the farm that Alex's host family owns. We took a very scenic walk up to the farm (it was difficult considering the walk was straight up hill at about a 40 degree angle)! We had a delicious lunch and then walked around the farm. It was an interesting trek since it was very wet and we fell a lot. But the view of the mountains and the town was gorgeous! Hannah and I were lost for a while when we were distracted by a little mariposa (that means butterfly). But we found Alex and Caeley and our host and returned to the house. Here are a few pictures from today!
PS we celebrated Spain's win in the World Cup with the other students and teachers after a group trip to a beautiful public garden.

Volunteering Day 2



Quick Observations:
1. They view the floor as being sacred. Or maybe dirty...we don't
really know why but whenever we try to put our bags on it, they
insist that we put them on the table.
2. The phone rings like a fire alarm and the ringback sounds like a
disconnected phone line.
3. Here, it is a good thing to eat A LOT. It shows that you enjoy what
they spent time to make.
4. Taxi are not limited to 5 people! This morning, Caeley and I
entered a cab that already had 3 people in it and then the driver
stopped to pick up another! They squeezed three people into the front
two seats!
4. The people are naturally very welcoming, warm, and affectionate.
They also are very proud of their country and their people, they even
view America as being ONE nation: Alaska to Chile, not just seeing
America has being the USA. We have an interesting story regarding
this idea that we will love to share later!
5. They love rice. We've been averaging two huge servings a day.
Anyways, we didn't have much to update you on since it's early, but we
hope you enjoy those fun facts :)
XOXO,
Caeley, Jess, Alex, and Hannah

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hola!
This morning was gorgeous and the sun is extremely intense...let's
hope there are no sunburns! We volunteered this morning for 3 hours
with the same kids, they wore us out from running around, jumping on
us, and asking us to spin them around! After we left, we headed over
to the grocery store and bough bread, cheese, ham, chex mix, and
chocolate and brought it to Parque Central to have an impromtu picnic.
We bought postards at a pharmacy, so expect to receive some in the
mail soon!! Now we are hanging out at the school waiting for class.
Hasta luego :)
Love,
Jess, Caeley, Alex, and Hannah

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

David!

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Meet Roy! He has been helping us navigate through Boquete and volunteer with the children at Casa Esperanza. Today, he took us to David to see the city.

Boquete Day 3!




Hola Padres!
Last night we ate dinner with other Habla Ya students at a nice Hostel down the street from the school. They made us homemade pizza and gave us sooo much, it was delicious! We sat across from a Dutch couple, who were extremely nice and we had great conversations with them about Holland, university, and Panama.
We just got back our quick trip to David, which is the capital of the province we are currently in. We took a bus (only 1.45$ each way!) and walked around the downtown area. They have a big and pretty park, many cheap clothing stores (shirts for 1.99$) and delicious fruit that we bought off the streets.
We ate lunch at the same place we did on Monday, and we've learned to love rice and beans since we are served that at least twice a day! Our class starts in 10 minutes, so we are just relaxing now and trying to drink as much coffee as we can before it starts!
We have many pictures to show you, but we can't put all of them up, so we will give you a bit of a preview of our past few days,
Love,
Jess, Hannah, Caeley, and Alex

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

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Hola padres!
Boquete is beautiful! The town is very small and the main street sort of resembles Kings Street in Boone. Check out the other video for a glimpse of the main road. This video is from our stroll through the forested neighborhoods near Casa Esparanza where we are volunteering. Our trip went smoothly and everyone has been having a great time. Our host families are very nice and cook us LOTS of food! It’s very delicious. The food in the restaurants where we’ve eaten lunch is cheap too. Our lunches cost less than $3!
The volunteer director Roy is very nice…He has been super helpful in learning Boquete--where we can buy cellphones, birthday treats for Hannah, and yummy lunches. We worked at Casa Esperanza (with the kids) today for the first time and he came with us. Los ninos are so great!! We played soccer and math games and read with them, and they loved having pictures taken (and there was also a little girl who loved to take pictures…those turned out with interesting angles J We are volunteering again Thursday.
Classes are good too…we have homework though ahh! Definitely the most helpful Spanish class we have taken, though for hours straight does get challenging. yay for coffee! Don’t worry. We’re not getting addicted. As Alex says “I‘m not addicted, I just need it every day…” The coffee really is tasty though, and some people in Boquete add lots (and lots) of sugar, though it actually is pretty good black.
Tonight we are going to a dinner with the others in HablaYa in a restaurant. We’re excited to meet even more of the students!! Tomorrow we’re going to explore David in the morning, and after class it is movie night!
We hope you are all doing well and se amamos (we love you!)
Caeley, Alex, Hannah, and Jess
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Monday, June 21, 2010

Hola desde Boquete, Panamá!
We aré siting in the small cafe at the school right now! And we
earlier caught the end of the Portugal blowout World Cup game. We have
to go now, but just wanted to post a quite message for you all to know
we are okay!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

At the Albrook airport...

Waiting for the plane to David...

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We just got a nice Scottish guy to take a picture of us in the Albrook
airport.
Hasta luego!

We have safely arrived in Panama! Our first plane ride went well and
we are currently waiting for our domestic airplane to David which will
be leaving at 4pm (5pm your guy's time). We will fill you all in once
we safely arrive at our host family's homes.
I've attached a photo that I took coming into Panama City. The
landscape is very pretty and very green. Talk to you all soon!
Love, Alex, Caeley, Jessica, and Hannah

Vamos a... Miami

Tonight we're in Miami! After checking out the scene in Coconut Grove, we've sufficiently prepared ourselves for the hopping night life of Boquete. Actually, we're just staying with my family since we have an overnight layover. Our flight was relatively uneventful. Caeley was full body scanned when going through security in RDU. We thought about trying to play Bananagrams despite the fact that I was across the aisle from everyone else. Too bad we were descending so we didn't get to try. We met my Aunt and Uncle and Cousin at the airport and went to dinner in the Grove. The restaurant we chose wasn't necessarily family friendly since there was a very loud live band. Appropriately, they covered Van Halen's 'Panama'! Then we ate some delicious gelato and listened to the top 40 hits in Spanish. We quickly realized that we couldn't understand a word of what was being said. Maybe by the time we come home we'll be able to understand the songs. Tonight we're staying with my family in their living room and getting up early to catch our flight. It's been a fun first day of our adventure and more excitement is sure to come when we actually leave the States tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Panamanian Map and Flag


10 Dias Mas

Hey all,

I want to start off this blog! For all family members, friends, and/or others reading this, thanks for visiting and taking part in our exciting and exotic adventure to Boquete, Panama. While down there, we will (hopefully) be updating the blog each day, with a different scribe each day. Also, look for pictures! 

Only 10 days til our journey...