Jazmine’s Perspective: Today was one of my favorite days. It was great being Lider Del Dia with my co Leader Ben.  We woke up super early in the morning around 6 AM, had breakfast, then headed to Finca Pamel, a family-owned farm. The farm was located in the town of Los Santos, in the Azuero region of Panama. It was a very hot day: the sun was out and stayed out for the duration of our stay at the farm. But that didn’t stop us from having fun. Today we felt like real farmers. We did a variety of activities today: milking cows, cleaning cow poop, planting, and climbing hills.

All of it was very enjoyable, and an experience that I will remember forever. My favorite part was towards the end. Earlier in the day I had let the family know that my mom was Panamanian and they began to talk to me about Panama and speak about the part of Panama which she is from: Colon. They taught me some Colon slang, and Pablo, the father of the farm’s owner, danced with me to some Panamanian music. In all, it was such a wonderful and peaceful day.

Ben’s Perspective: Buenas everyone! From the first day, I believe it was apparent to our group that we would be challenged to exit our comfort zones during our time in Chitre. Today, however, was a special brand of adventurous. As my wonderful co-leader Jazmine has said, we visited Finca Pamel, a family-operated farm named for the brother-sister duo behind the operation: Pablo and Melani. Finca Pamel specializes in cultivation of crops for both the family and the surrounding community (mangoes are one of Pablo’s personal favorites).

Additionally, the owners aim to make the farm a hot spot for eco-tourism, a mission which is already manifesting itself in Finca Pamel’s beautiful open fields and lush scenery. While touring the farm, we noticed that the ground was peppered with shards of light brown ceramic. As it turns out, the ceramic was left over from indigenous groups who settled in those same hills hundreds of years ago! Finca Pamel works to preserve the indigenous history of its lands; being there, one truly senses something bigger. After the tour, our group milked cows (which is not at all like on TV), cleaned up “animal waste” while listening to the animals vocalize at each other in the background, and helped till the fields. We were exposed to a type of work that is completely foreign to most of us, and left the farm with a newfound affinity for hard labor.

Afterwards, we attended a festival for international dance. Unfortunately, we showed up about 3 hours before the dancers and had to leave, but that didn’t stop us from taking some pictures:

I should also mention that we received our groups for English tutoring today. We will all be teaching university students. There are five groups that will teach newcomers, one group that will teach those at intermediate levels, and one that will teach those at advanced levels. If everyone is half as excited as I am to tutor, then our enthusiasm will be a force to be reckoned with!

All in all, today was yet another memorable day. Many thanks to Jazmine; today’s success was due more than in part to her passion and savviness. Before I sign off, a quick message for all the parents: Pay close attention to your phones tomorrow, because tomorrow is one of the days we can call you! 🙂