Monday, August 17, 2015

La Conclusión

A more-or-less English translation of this post is here.  

Bueno.  Ahora, estoy en Berkeley, California, menos de una semana antes de salir del país para ir a las Filipinas.  Quiero empezar a trabajar allá acerca del ambiente.  Intentaré lo que yo aprendí durante mis tres años en El Cuerpo de Paz.  Vamos a ver!  Pero que estaba haciendo yo antes?

1)  Viajando a Través de los Estados Unidos -- Después del fin de mi servicio en Panamá, yo viajaba a través de los EE.UU. solo por la tierra (el bus, tren, o carro), sin volando.  Entonces, comenzando en Washington, D.C., yo viajaba a través de los estados unidos por casi tres semanas.  Además de Washington, D.C., yo visité mis amigos (y un primo) en Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Mexico, Arizona y California.  Fue muy divertido de hablar de nuevo cara a cara con ellos después de mucho tiempo. 

2)  Foto del Servicio -- Mi foto más favorito:

Durante un evento ambiental en el pueblo cercano de Las Minas

3)  La Canción del Día

Los Wilburys Viajando -- La Final de la Línea

4)  Las Noticias de Camerún -- es una noticia interesante sobre la bolsa plástica en Camerún, haciendo un mercado negro de ellos.  Parece como un artículo de Onion, pero es verdad.

5)  Lo Único Tienda de Cero Basura en Los Estados Unidos --  ¿Sabe que hay solo una tienda de Cero Basura en los estados unidos? Está en Texas, de todos los lugares.  Si yo sabría durante mis viajes, yo lo visitaría. 

6)  Eso es un poco embarazoso -- recientemente, yo envié aparentemente los solicitudes de amistad por Facebook, pero yo no sabía como.  Entonces, lo siento a las personas que los recibieron.  Pienso que yo lo hice cuando yo no estaba acostumbrando con mi teléfono inteligente. ¿Qué?  ¿Tengo un teléfono inteligente?

7)  Ahora tengo telefono inteligente -- yo decía mucho que yo no prefiera tener un teléfono inteligente.  Pero yo veo que es una buena herramienta, porque lo veo como un computador.  Antes, yo no lo querría por que necesito cargarlo casi cada día.  Pero es lo mismo con el computador.  Ahora yo uso el computador menos que antes.  El teléfono inteligente ha remplazado mi computador.  Es bueno también durante mis viajes.  No necesito sacar mi computadora solo para usar el Wifi para comunicar con mis amigos por e-mail o cualquier cosa. 

8)  No lo sabía -- en la ciudad de Baguio, se produce 360 a 370 toneladas de basura cada día.  También, hay grupos allá que hacen lo mismo proyectos como Panamá.  Finalmente, SM, el gran centro comercial, hizo una relación publico acerca del ambiente

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Si Me Voy de Aquí Mañana …

… o en un mes.

1)  Epic Rap Battles vs SNL -- SNL is being called out for its lack of Asian cast members.  Witness Manny Pacquiao played by a white woman.  Lame.  In defense of SNL, I can think of at least two former cast members who are part Asian, Rob Schneider and Fred Armisen.  That's like what?  Two during the last 40 years.  On the other hand, Epic Rap Battles of History has had at least two Asian characters played by, well, Asians.  What a concept.  And ERB has only been around for maybe 4 years.   ERB wins. 

2)  Farewell Song for Panama  -- my PM sent me an email about upcoming reports, DOS and poop samples.  COS must be coming up.  Time to think of a song to use for a video montage (that I would never make) of my time in Panama.  Maybe a song with an accordion.  Or maybe a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd?

Note to Giles:  record a longer version of this song. 

3)  The battery dies like a bad joke on stage  -- my dumbphone works just fine, but I was toying with the idea of getting a smartphone and that led me to an article about cellphones with a long battery life.  But this poster still makes me hesitant to get one:
Poster at the UN in Geneva

4)  Bochinche -- that's my new favorite Spanish word.  It means 'ruckus' or 'uproar', according to my Spanish dictionary, but the PC Panama handbook says it means 'gossip'.  Ex:  La chiquitita quiere bochinche. 

5)  This Blog Post Was Brought To You By … -- I can't say enough about safety razors.  I used it to shave my head recently and it wasn't as tough as I thought.  No more electric razors for me. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

No Excuses

1)  Azuero Fair -- checking out the Azuero Fair with my landlord's family.  We must've walked for 4 hours throughout the fair:

Funny thing about the visit was that although there were many food stands at the fair, we ate at a McDonald's outside the fair. 

2)  Tiny Frogs -- Check out these tiny frogs.  I'm talking 'chiquitita', my new favorite Spanish word.

I assume they're on their way to eventually looking like this:

3)  My Two Centavos -- Pacquiao is a great fighter and its too bad he lost, but Mayweather was right.   No excuses, Pacman.  As someone once said, "Excuses are like _____.  Everyone's got one and they all stink!"

4)  Represent -- Hats I've acquired in Panama.

L-R:  a political party hat I found on the ground, 
a baseball cap of my region's team, my first hat in Panama

5)  Who Needs Gravity Boots?

Shaky video I took of an iguana, my spirit animal

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Life is Small Time

1)  Post-COS Plans --  my plans after I COS in a few months:  traveling, naturally, and looking forward to seeing some of my fellow agros from Cameroon:

2)  Stop Harming the Community -- a fellow volunteer sent me this list of 25 Tips for PCVs.  Its actually a few years old, but still a good list of suggestions on how best to do development work.  One more tip that could be added to the list:  "Just stop paying for things,"  courtesy of Jeff, RPCV Cameroon.

3)  Feliz Cumpleaños, Extraño -- someone was having a late night birthday party in Colombia and while it was a little annoying because I was trying to sleep, their rendition of Happy Birthday was nonetheless quite catchy. 

4)  Una Misión a la Montaña

offroading to a few schools in the mountains

5)  Channelling Greg LeMond -- fellow PCRV William and I biked for 3 straight days when he visited my post. 

Getting chased by a dog in the process

A bit scary biking these roads since they're often winding and there aren't exactly any bike lanes. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Heading North to Go to South America

Highlights of my trip to Cartagena, Colombia:

1)  Sightseeing

Castillo de San Felipe

2)  A Tale of Two Hostals -- stayed at two hostals in Cartagena.  The first hostal was more popular and kind of a party hostal.  The second hostal was cheaper and, well, kind of run-down, but more relaxing and the people were friendlier. 

3)  The Starbucks of Colombia

Juan Valdez Cafe

4)  Watching Chess in the Park

5)  Watching dolphins from the ferry...
Took the ferry from Panama to Colombia and caught sight of dolphins

A great trip.  Wish I could go back and travel to other parts of Colombia, including Bogota, Cali and Barranquilla, the birthplace of Shakira.  Viva Colombia!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

La Resurrección …

...of my blog, in honor of Holy Week.

1)  Boquete De Nuevo -- My sister was kind enough to visit me recently.  Aside from Panama City and visiting my post, we also did a hike in Boquete:

The Three Waterfalls hike in Boquete

2)  In Work-Related News …

PCV Kelsey and I helping out our counterparts with a reforestation project.  
Where the biodegradable polypots at?

What's being planted - guayacan, cedro amargo, cocobolo

Teaching Kelsey's youth group how to make a cellphone case from potato chip bags

3)   Remember those Silly Superlatives? -- I don't remember who got 'Most Likely to Become Director of Programming and Training' back in training or COS Conference, but there's an opening

4)  99 Little Victories -- Found a supermarket in Santiago that sells bulk items and that also doesn't require me to accept their supposedly biodegradable plastic bag.  *cough* Schmachetazo! 

5)  I Think That Was an Earthquake, Therefore it Happened --  according to a report from NPR, student-athletes at the Univ. of North Carolina were steered to take so-called 'bogus' classes like geology and philosophy in order to be eligible to play.  What?!  Those are hard classes!  I'm now on the side of the athletes on this discussion. 

Monday, March 02, 2015

The Bad Man Punted Baxter!

Fellow PCRV from Guatemala:  Panamanians tell me I don't speak Spanish.
Me:  Yeah, they tell me that, too.  But as they tell me that, I'm thinking, "I'm not speaking Spanish?  You're not speaking Spanish either.  I don't know what you're speaking."
Fellow PCRV:  We're all pretty much speaking garbage Spanish. 

1)  Conversin' with the Locals -- trying to get into the flow of Panamanian Spanish:

Talking about law schools

Talking about religion

Know your numbers

2)  They Do Eat Bush Meat -- wild iguanas are protected, but I found out that there's a demand for them.  Professionals like lawyers, politicians, the local Chinese population are just some of the people who buy wild iguanas in order to eat them.  Iguanas that aren't wild or "domesticated" meanwhile are ok to eat and a Panamanian told me they're quite delicious.

3)  Queso! -- In Cameroon, people don't smile in photos.  In Panama, its half and half:

4)  Environmental Dilemmas -- a) A fellow PCRV gave me some cheese, but it was the cheese where each slice was individually wrapped, b)  after an environmental meeting, the host gave us all lunch in polystyrene containers.   Sometimes, its hard not to look a gift horse in the mouth. 

5)  Old Movies I'm Appreciating Right Now --   Malcolm X, Anchorman, Gattaca,  Galaxy Quest. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Esa es Vieja Noticia

1)  You Like Cameroon or Panama better? -- RPCV Mac recently asked me that question and with 3-4 months left in Panama, I think its a good time to reflect on my brief time in Panama.  The first thing that comes to mind is how similar Panama is to the US.  I sometimes feel like I'm doing AmeriCorps when I'm in Panama b/c, well, it IS part of America and its pretty developed in ways like the US.  Panama seems like its just 2-3 motivated counterparts away from not needing any outside help, if they're not there already.  Cameroon, meanwhile, seems like it has a long way to go with so many challenges in its way.  I can go on, but I think this topic is better discussed over a cold beer (warm if you're in Cameroon). 

2)  Todos Estan Pasando … Finalmente.  Parece. -- the megafight between Pacquiao and Mayweather is apparently finally happening:

Front page news in Panama

The topic of Pacquiao always comes up when I tell the locals that I'm Pinoy.  They may have no idea where the Philippines is, but they know who Pacquiao is:
Cross-cultural exchange: discussing the fight with community members

3)  Mountain Fiesta -- I was recently invited to a counterpart's fiesta out in the mountains:

Yup, its pretty deforested, mainly due to cattle ranching and agriculture

A cow was slaughtered and its meat dried in what is called a talanquera

Giants pots for sancocho (a type of soup) and also for yucca, aka cassava

Dancing and music
With my counterparts

Large pots, a big meal, music, hard liquor and dancing.  Reminds me of the mountain fiestas in the Philippines, minus the accordion. 

4)  In Hot Pepper News … -- the eatery nearby finally had some real hot sauce, locally-made:

And my habanero seeds in the backyard are showing signs of life despite the heat:

5)  Everything Causes Cancer -- a guy at the nearby eatery was preparing a charcoal grill and he put some plastic in the grill and burned it.  Not really sure why he did that, but it made me wonder:  if burning plastic is bad and if grilling is also bad,  then the combination must be incredibly lethal. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sé Honesto y Despiadado

1)  Garbage on the Front Page  -- it all starts with admitting there's a problem.

2)  NPR Stories --  I don't know why, but its only now that I've started reading NPR's website.  A lot of interesting stories.  For instance, they have an article about how turning off smartphones will supposedly make you think better.  So does that mean that smartphones make you dumb and dumbphones make you smart?  This is an important study, given that I have a dumbphone.     Another story is about the growing popularity of street vendors selling food using redesigned bikes as food trucks.  Sorry to break it to you, NPR, but they already do that in Panama:

 Selling a coconut drink

3)  Third Goal -- Interviewing a former Queen of the Manito Festival (La Reina de la Festival del Manito) for a Peace Corps video:

4)  Book Review -- I'm not saying its because of less time spent on the internet, but I've now finished another book, George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons.  I started it a few years ago, but got bogged down by way too many details in the story.  I thought the book could've done with a bit more editing.  Overall, the book was ok, but I'm wondering if it would've been better if Martin had stopped with A Storm of Swords. The subsequent books have paled in comparison after that classic.

5)  Feeding Time -- every afternoon, the fish vendor throws out his leftover fish in the lake, by the bridge.  That's when the alligators show up …

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

¡Todos Estan Pasando!

1)  Take me to the River

2)  Mosquito/Scorpion Net -- Found a scorpion hanging on to my mosquito net:

3)  Pretty Surreal  -- I was recently in an air-conditioned, multi-storied mall in Panama City.  The song Freebird was playing in the background.  I had just bought coffee and a brownie for $2.65, paid with US dollar bills.  There was a Calvin Klein store nearby with a giant poster of Justin Bieber.  There was a commercial for one of Michael Bay's films playing on the nearby television.  Sometimes, Panama feels exactly like the US. 

4)  Diversión -- This video makes me want to pick up the guitar again.  Or go to a karaoke bar. 


5) Como se Dice 'Tinnitus'?

Heading back to post in a Panamanian party bus.  Well, seems like one.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Estoy Salao

1)  Bien Integrado --  PC staff came by the office to talk to my counterparts and one of them didn't know that I was a PCV.  He thought I was a Panamanian staff member.  "Parece Latino."  ("You look Latino").  Integration complete. 

2)  Panamanian Sayings  -- A colleague at the office said "Echar pa'lante", a shortened version of "Echar para adelante" which he said means someone is proactive.  Literally, it means "to throw oneself forward". 

Another one I learned is "Estoy salao", a shortened version of  "Estoy salado".  Literally, it means "I'm salty", but its supposed to signify, "I'm unlucky."  I was wondering where the phrase came from.  Maybe from the story of Lot's wife who turned to salt.  That's pretty unlucky, right? 

3)  Flag Football -- Where Do I Sign Up?  And can I count it as part of my physical therapy?

Bill Walsh's West Coast offense in Panama City.

4)  The Journey is Better than the Destination -- Fellow PCRV William and I walked to the Biomuseum in Panama City, not knowing that the museum was really far from the hostel.  It took us about 2.5 hours to get there.  On the bright side, we got some interesting photos from the walk.  It was also good cardio.
Boats and skyscrapers
birds above the fish market
View of the rascacielos from the museum
As for the museum, it was ok. As they say, "The journey ..."

5)  Bikes in Panama -- there's no shortage of bike aficionados in Panama:

In the capital
Bike race at post

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Perro Salchicha

"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." -- Almost Famous

1)  The Town Fair -- my town is currently having a 5 day fair, called La Feria de San Sebastian.  Its your typical fair with rides:


educational demonstrations (here's a guy talking about the awesomeness of yucca, aka cassava):

and of course, a dog show:

Perro salchicha
My counterpart organization also had their own stand/booth at the fair:
I created a Three R's pamphlet as well as a pamphlet
holder (thanks, internet). My pamphlet literally stands out from the rest.
Requisite photo of me with a counterpart
My counterpart organization's booth
2)  Uncle Chan's Redemption?  -- Is Ken Jeong's documentary about the walk-on Notre Dame kicker, Reggie Ho, enough to make up for his "Uncle Chan-ish" role in The Hangover films? 

3)  Incertidumbres -- I've been to the capital 3 times recently because of my shoulder injury and there was a lot of uncertainty about what treatment I would need.  But the results are finally in and I'll just need some physical therapy.  No surgery needed.  On the bright side, being in the capital allowed me to drink root beer and buy some habanero peppers, the seeds of which I just planted at post. 

4)  Landfill or Incinerator -- the recent NY Times article about incinerators and the problems associated with it made me want to comment a little bit about the topic.  Whether you're in the "developing" world or in the "first world", the problem of garbage essentially boils down to this:  people can reduce the amount of garbage they produce.  Many people just choose not to.

Just take a look at Zero Waste Home and (as the NYT article points out) cities like San Francisco and Portland.  If more people did what they were doing, we wouldn't be debating whether or not landfills or incinerators are the better choice. 
Garbage collection at post
5)  "And hey, I met you.  You are not cool." -- I just saw Almost Famous for the first time even though the film came out in 2000.  Can't believe I've never watched it before b/c its pretty awesome.  And not just because Jimmy Fallon, Marc Maron and Mitch Hedberg were in it.  Not to mention the guy who cut off Jamie Lannister's hand. 

Monday, January 05, 2015

Tranquilo Como un Pepino

1)  You've Been to Guatemala? I've Been to Guatemala -- 

In Boquete with William, a fellow PCRV
in Panama and an RPCV from Guatemala
Joel, I would've worn the San Antonio shirt, but it was in the laundry hamper. 

2)  Panoramic Videos -- I don't know how to take panoramic shots on my camera, so I end up taking 360 degree videos instead:

Cinta Costera, Panama City

3)  Book Reviews -- Since drastically reducing my internet usage recently, I finished 2 books.  Sorry, Luke, the nativity scene is taking longer than anticipated.  Anyway, the books were Joe Abercrombie's Red Country and Jeff Olson's The Slight Edge.  I liked both books overall.  Both easier reads than Plato's The Republic in Spanish, which I've put on hold.  But I'm still undecided about the ending of Red Country.  My first reaction was that the build up to the big showdown fizzled.  Its an unconventional ending though, I'll give the author that. 

4)  No Picante  -- Say what you will about Cameroonian food, at least it was spicy.  Desafortunadamente, in Panama (ie, the town where I'm posted), the food is a tad bland.  Even if you wanted to grow habanero or jalapeño peppers, you won't find any seeds being sold in town.  Hmm… Did somebody say 'secondary project'?  I think so. 

5)  Poco a Poco --  One morning, I was trying to plant some seeds in the backyard, but the soil was very hard since the dry season already started.  I told my neighbor I should've planted the seeds during the rainy season.  She then said, "Poco a poco, se puede ser."  (Little by little, it can be done).  She was right.  The soil was ready later that afternoon.  Poco a poco.  Kinda like development.