Ay dios mio, where do I start? The trip is already over halfway over and I can’t believe I have so little time left. I want to stay in Panama so badly; even a few of my classmates have decided to stay a few days after already. It’s just so interesting! The culture is so different. I remember us talking about the culture shock in the Study Abroad Orientation and I realize myself going through the steps described. I am still constantly fascinated by the culture, and it shocks me every time I realize a new part of their etiquette different from ours. I only just started delving into the “frustration phase” (I need more time!). I’m embracing it, though. If I’m working through my frustration, that means I’m learning, right?
I bet the Panamanians are just as frustrated with me since I have to ask them to repeat themselves so many times. My language skills have grown so much. I can now haggle with taxi drivers, street venders, and even certain tourist shop owners. I can recite the conversation about why our group of gringos is in Panama for studying from memory. I can even tell a few hilarious puns in Spanish (the greatest step towards fluency in my book).
This picture is from the top of Cerro Ancon, the only hill/mountain within city limits (took this picture during the hike I mentioned in my previous post). On top of the mountain is a Panamanian flag the size of a basketball court. You can see it from any point in the city, and it acts as a constant reminder of how proud the natives are of their country.
We’ve done so many other excursions outside of the city as well. My favorite being a trip to El Valle, a quaint city located in the crevice of a dormant volcano. There we did zip-lining and swimming in a natural pool at the base of a waterfall. Tan hermosa! And this Sunday we have a plan to go to San Blas, and series of islands in the territory of the indigenous Guna people. They are Carribean islands and apparently the water surrounding them is like glass. I hope they have snorkeling gear to rent!