Today was a day that I was looking forward to immensely: Environmental Day. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am constantly talking about the environment. So, naturally, I woke up at four in the morning (whoops) and woke everyone else up at 6:30am. We had a wonderful breakfast of omelets and papaya, where some of us gave up our daily straws! Some of us who were unable to call home yesterday were able to today, so our day was off to a very emotional start.

At 9:15am, our lovely speaker, Diego from Mundo Verde, gave us all a presentation about the effects of climate change on Central America and specifically Panama. We learned that in recent years, Panama and especially Chitre has been suffering through droughts that have significantly affected the access of drinking water to many rural residents. The efforts of logging companies and cattle farming has reduced the forest landmass in the region by 94%, and desertification has begun to take hold of much of the country.

We partnered up with his organization to clean Playa Mongre of the trash littering its otherwise beautiful shores. We found a surprising variety of trash items: straws and Styrofoam, bits of fishing nets and bottle caps, a green plastic house from a Monopoly set, and even something that looked like a 6 ft. chunk of car door that Isabel, Nick, and Kayla disposed of. Despite the anger a lot of us felt at the pollution of this paradise, I felt inspired. If I had found eight straws, and I decided at least four times not to use a straw, than I could have possibly picked up half the amount of straws. Literally every little bit counts, especially when looking towards the root of the problem.

Our day was barely over after Playa Mongre, with us having to eat lunch, rest up a bit, and go from CAP prep to English Tutoring prep to teaching. Tensions were high, especially with the time crunch, but thanks to the communication skills of our teammates and especially our Program Coordinators, Larry and Sonia, we were able to make the best of our time, finishing up our projects for El Cerdo. The day was best ended with a bowl of delicious Sancocho, a Panamanian dish similar to chicken soup. All of us are super tired, but still ready for another packed day tomorrow!

Love you Mom and Dad, missing you lots! Say hi to the cats for me, and tell Cooper happy belated birthday!

With Love,

Alice Kris