Friday, July 3, 2009


Well, I'm in Panama!! I got in late Sunday night, after a long day of traveling. Things have been going really well so far, except for the extreme heat and humidity... the temp is about 90-95 every day, with something like 85% humidity.

I'm staying with a señora (aka house mom) named Berta. I have my own room and right now I have my own bathroom, but another girl from the States is coming on Saturday and then we'll share the bathroom (but she has her own room). There's a window air conditioner unit in my room, but Berta told me it would cost extra for me to use it. I'm trying to tough it out, so we'll see how long I last... Luckily (haha) there's no hot water either, so when I need to cool down, I just take a shower! :-)

Here's a pic of my room:

Berta is super nice and helpful. I don't think she knows any English, which is good for me, because I need to practice practice practice!!! She has a maid, Bexi, who comes every day to cook and clean and do laundry and stuff. Bexi is the one who actually makes my food (I get breakfast and dinner at home, and I'm on my own for lunch). Bexi is also really nice and a good cook :)

This was my dinner last night (pepper stuffed with chicken & cheese & beans & potatoes [mmmm], rice, plantains):

I have Spanish class from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every day. My "school" (ILERI Panama) is in a lady's house about a mile and a half away from my house (a 20 minute walk that gets me drenched in sweat). Students can start classes on any Monday, and there were two other new "norteamericanos" this past Monday - a girl from Chicago (Laura) and a guy from Seattle (Loren). They are both really good at Spanish already and want to talk in Spanish all the time... (Which is good for me, I know, I know...) There are probably about 12 students total at the school. There are three other students in my class right now, and they've all been in Panama for a while. These first two weeks, I'm just getting back in the groove of speaking Spanish, and then I'll be doing the law Spanish program the last four weeks, with regular Spanish classes as well as legal Spanish classes, and observing/volunteering in a law firm. I've already learned a lot, and I'm thinking in Spanish, and I understand about 95% of what I hear. It's just hard to say everything I want to say!

Panama City is extremely Americanized... there's a mall a few blocks away from the school that
looks freakishly similar to American malls. There’s even a food court with all kinds of fast food restaurants - sushi, pizza, hamburgers, Italian, Chinese, “Panamanian” food, etc. On my mile-and-a-half walk to school, I can see three McDonald's!! And a block away from me, there's a TGIFridays attached to a Country Inn & Suites, if anyone wants to come visit! :-) All the cars look just like ones you would see in the States too. They even use the U.S. Dollar for currency! It doesn't even feel like I'm in a foreign country! Except for the part where everyone is super tan...

Panama's new president, Ricardo Martinelli, was sworn in yesterday, and Loren and Laura and I went to a "fiesta" of sorts at this stadium called Estadio Roberto Durán. We're all pretty pale with blond/red hair, so we definitely stuck out even more so than usual (I assume most people there actually had something to do with Martinelli being elected). We got there around 3:00, and Martinelli didn't come until about 7:15, so we were just hanging out listening to a bunch of different popular Panamanian bands play for four hours. It was pretty cool though - now I can say I've seen the president of Panama!

Anyway, I'll try to update this as often as I can.
If you would like to send me a letter :-), my address here is:

Berta Barrera (ATN: Courtney)
Apartado Postal 0819-01737
Panama, Republica de Panama

I think postage for a normal letter is 98 cents, but I'm not sure how long that takes... I'll be here until August 8th.

Hasta luego!!


Danielle said...

Sounds like you are having a great time so far! And the weather in Panama sounds amazingly like the weather we've had this past week in Missouri. ;-)

Abbey said...

Where's your chastity crack?!? Oh, wait, you have your OWN room....with a TV?!? You mean you don't only get to watch what you want to watch on major holidays and when your host mom is on vacation? That must be nice...

Laura said...

nice work, dear :) fun to read... i hadnt heard about the dog food story! nice that you have a TV in your room! and it's EXTRA great that we discovered don simon sangria tonight! see you tmrw! :)