New country, new culture, new people and new food! I am definitely not in Texas anymore. Kalu Yala has provided me with an opportunity to travel and get out of a bubble that I had immersed myself in for the past couple of years. I always knew there was something much bigger and important that I should be doing, but I would have never imagined that it would bring me to the beautiful country of Panama and to meet such great people!
Living in the middle of the city can get rather chaotic and loud especially when all you want to do is sleep! Then again the pink apartment building in Bella Vista in front of Parque Urraca is perfect. It gives us a terrific view of the city, even though the traffic and air pollution can get somewhat unpleasant. Despite that, there is nothing more comforting and relaxing than waking up , crossing the street, and being able to go for a run on the Cinta Costera while looking at the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
The first week of orientation provided me with much insight on the city of Panama, the country itself, and of course Kalu Yala. I was amazed to see how developed the country actually is and at the same time very broken down. On our way back to our apartment from visiting Panama Viejo (ruins of old Panama), a taxi driver explained to us his view on democracy, tourism and the development of his beloved Panama. It was saddening to hear in his voice disappointment on the way the government has let them down in the past couple of years regarding the preservation of nature, infrastructure and gentrification.
It was interesting to hear an insider’s perspective on the matter. Regardless of all the negative things he had to say, he still considers Panama the best country, the second being Germany! It’s amazing how even though the country has various apparent flaws, the sense of pride is not lost. This means that it is up to the people and their pride in Panama to continue a movement of change that will benefit their way of living.
After hearing this from a native, I knew that this I was in the right place. One person cannot change an entire country, but the team that makes up Kalu Yala sure can make a significant impact on the growing country that is Panama. We are change agents.