Today we woke up at 5:30 to meet the 6:00 wake up call. The fact that it was the earliest wake up made it so difficult, not to mention having to get everyone else up. After breakfast, we made our way to Finca Pamel: a family run farm about 20 minutes outside of Chitre. Pablo and Melanie, the farm owners children, introduced us to the land and its history. Finca Pamel is also an archeological dig site, the family told us about how scientists have found the tombs of its indigienous people. Because most of the bones are those of women and children, they hypothesized that the land served as a form of protection or education for these people. One of the reasons they thought this was because from the hill on the land, you can hear the noises from all around the 11 hectare farm.
After showing us around the land, they brought us to the main house and chose four students to help cook a traditional Panamanian dish – Sancocho – of soup, with a side of rice. While the staff was finishing up the meal, we went to visit some of the animals. We saw goats, geese, cows, rabbits, ducks, chickens, an iguana, horses, and dogs J. We were given the opportunity to milk a cow!!!!!! The two of us thought it was so much fun, but a little nervewracking because we didn’t know the correct way to do it. You have to realllllyyy press the udder to get the milk out, and pull on it too! One of the most interesting things about it was that you could feel the milk moving through the udder!! Next we held bunnies, which they only use for tourists (Chiara made a little bunny friend!!). After we were able to see all the animals, they told us that the wages of the people who work on the farm was only around $19 A DAY!! We thought that was very surprising because the work is so difficult and laborious, especially in the Panamanian heat. We couldn’t imagine doing that work for such little pay, not to mention that was one of the best paying farms in Chitre!
After that we went through the process of sowing seeds. It was very labor intensive, we started out by digging the crests that we had to plant the seeds in. To allow the seeds to grow, we had to pick out the weeds and break up the clumps of dirt. Because weeding was such a difficult process, we had to consistently take water breaks and Kate even got burned! We also had to fertilize the land and plant the seeds which was a very tedious process.
After a long day of hard worked, we got some well-earned sancocho. If you don’t know what it is, it’s the best thing ever (we will write the recipe below). It tasted amazing, and so much more real and fresh than the food we normally eat in America. After eating and resting, it was time to get L I T. Kate Rivelli, Jada, Faith, and Elson all got the opportunity to try on traditional Panamanian dancing clothing. Despite what Kate might say, she looked beautiful! The dressware was very thick, but very beautiful and handmade. However, both of these things contributed to it being very VERY expensive, topping off at almost $10,000 for just the dress! 0_0 They all did a traditional Panamanian dance, and shortly after we headed to Hotel Hawaii.
That experience, in our opinion, was very impactful and eye opening, not to mention one of a kind. It is not something you would normally chose to do but it made us feel more confident especially considering the overwhelming support of our peers despite being put in an uncomfortable situation. It was an amazing opportunity and we are so glad that we were able to do it.
The rest of our day, was our basic English tutoring and discussion time. It ended on a good note with us getting out all of our feelings about the day and our progress as a group. Following is the recipe for Sancocho, with a serving size of 5. 3 pounds of yams (babosa), ½ a chicken, 5 leaves of cilantro, diced peppers, and oregano. Add salt, onion, garlic, and aji(?) to taste. Serve it with seasoned rice. You can look up a recipe online for further instruction!
(This is Chiara) Hi mom, dad, Osuna, and Giulia! I miss you guys so so much! I wish I could talk to you more often. But just know, I am happy and I’m having a very good time here. I have made many new friends and my eyes have been opened to many new things! Love you to the edge of the universe and back J!
(This is Kate R) Hi mom and everyone else, I miss you guys so much but just know that I am having an amazing time and you would be so proud of all the things I’m doing and trying. I love it here: the people, the food, the stores, all of it! See you soon, LOVE YOU SOOOO MUCH <3