24 March 2012

Panamá Preparations

Getting ready for Panamá


We will be leaving for Panamá City, Panamá in five days so it's time to get everything ready. Zane and Dude will join me and 5 of my high school Spanish students on a 10 day study/ volunteer abroad program. We will be living with host families, taking Spanish classes in the morning, volunteering with Casa Esperanza in the afternoon, and touring on our off days. Zane, Dude, and I will be living with one family, while my students will be placed two students per household with neighboring families, one student has requested to be alone in his homestay in hopes of having a complete full-immersion experience. Once we arrive in Panamá I will plan morning excursions for me and my kids while my students are in class.
So far we haven’t packed but we have organized what we plan to bring; summer clothes, sandals / beach shoes, sneakers for hiking, bug repellent, sunblock, toiletries, swim suits, cameras, and an iPad (so we can Skype with AlphaPoppa while we are gone).  Even though we are not Catholic we will be in Panamá for La Semana Santa (Holy Week) so we will bring more formal clothing for the festivities.  There are a ton of things I hope to experience on our trip; eat iguana, zip-line through the rainforest, visit the Panama Canal, take a dip in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in one day, visit museums, go to a soccer game, a Reinado (beauty pageant), and see La Corrida de los Santos (Running of the Saints).  One thing I love to do when I travel is go to the movies.  This seems like a pretty mundane thing to do but it’s not.  I’ve accidentally discovered countries that assign seats, snacks even vary from country to country; some countries have intermissions in which the movie is stopped at half-point (no matter the scene!), and some theatres seat 200+ people, have VIP sections, or sing the National Anthem before the movie begins.  These slight differences really tickle and intrigue me.  So we will definitely catch a movie while we are there.
Although I have never been to Panamá this trip already holds a special place in my heart. As a little girl it was mentioned to me over and over again that my paternal grand-father was one of the many Jamaican immigrants who helped build the Panama Canal in the early 1900s. It was there that he learned how to speak Spanish, along with a rumored stint in Cuba working in the sugar cane fields. When I was little I could barely understand him through his heavy Caribbean accent; he was in his 90s and I was still in my single digits but I remember him clearly.  During my long journey in learning how to speak Spanish, adjusting to culture shock, and then adjusting to reverse culture shock I imagined his spirit there with me helping push me along on what may have been a similar journey from his early life. My grand-father was somewhat of a mystery and I hope to find information on him while I'm there to uncover at least a small piece of his life. 
Our flight is 4 hours and I still need to plan activities for Zane and Dude in case they don’t sleep on the plane.  Knowing my students they will enjoy their time sleeping or watching movies, teenage boys are not hard to please, my two year old boy is!  Oops, I almost forgot gifts for our host family and teachers.  It looks like we still have quite a few things to do.  Ahhh, the joys of travel!
Posted by Picasa


  1. So exciting!!! I can't wait to read about you adventure after your journey!

  2. So cool- I brought 17 high schoolers to Costa Rica for a 2 weekexchange- I loved seeing them interact with the families!:) What program did you guys use?

    1. ¡Hola Becky!
      Gracias por leer mi blog y dejar un mensaje. ☺ We used Ileri Panamá(www.ileripanama.com), they arranged our classes, homestays, and tours. Ileri was awesome and my students are forever changed by their experience in Panamá. Kudos to you for also traveling with your students and chosing homestays instead of hotels. The feeling of watching my students and children grow more confident and global-minded is priceless. Keep up the good work Becky and keep in touch, we have a crazy travel-filled summer planned.♥