La Amistad Biosphere Reserve (RBA)

La Amistad Biosphere Reserve (RBA)

The ‘La Amistad Biosphere Reserve’ is a biological reserve shared by Costa Rica and Panama. The Costa Rican sector was added to the list of World Heritage sites in 1983 while the Panamanian sector was added in 1990. The site is also referred to as the Biological Corridor of Talamanc or Cordillera de Talamanca-La Amistad-Parque Nacional La Amistad.

The Parque Internacional La Amistad (PILA) was created by Resolution 21-88 of September 2, 1988. The area covers 207,000 hectares, one of the largest protected area in the world. It is located in the provinces of Bocas del Toro (97%) y Chiriquí (el restante 3 %) in the western section of the country. al occidente del país. The Parque Nacional Volcán Barú was created on July 24, 1976 with an area of 14,300 hectares. The Reserve also includes other protected areas and areas set aside for indigenous peoples.

The activities carried out in the Reserve seek economic and educations alternatives, the strengthening of bi-national coordination and the support for monitoring activities focused on the state of biological diversity.

The Panamanian sector is formed by the following management themes:

Protected Areas This consists in areas, land as well as ocean waters, in an area totalling 270,151 hectarues. These areas are :

Parque Nacional Volcán Barú (14,300 h)
Parque Internacional la Amistad (207,000 h)
Lagunas de Volcán, wetland, (143 h)
San San Pond Sak, wetland, (16,125 h)
Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos (13,226 h)
Reserva Forestal Fortuna (19,500 h)

There is a cushion in three of these areas for a total of 300,517h. There is a an unprotected section covering the rivers Chiriquí Viejo, Caldera, Los Valles and Fortuna to a height of 1200 meters.

Bosque Protector de Palo Seco
The area of the proposed reserved areas for the Naso y Bribri tribes

A transition zone refers to an area where practices are changing to be more protective of reserved areas to which they abut. These are 1. Province of Chiriquí: all the areas adjacent to cushioning zone to an altitude of 1000 meters. 2. Province of Bocas del Toro: areas adjacent to the BPPS to an altitude of 100 meters above sea level.

Since its creation the Parque International La Amistad has been under the control of the Panamanian government of Panama. The agency in charge is ANAM (Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente). The con servation objectives are:

1) Protect a significant sample of the biological diversity of one of the richest zones in terms of fauna and flora. All other remaining areas in Panama have already been significantly altered.

2) Protect the watersheds of the rivers Teribe y Changuinola, assuring stability and and characterists necessary to take advantage of its potential for hydroelectric generation, considered the best in the country.

3) Maintain a natural and stable environmental setting that assures social, cultural and economic development. Diminish the risk of flooding and guarantee the continuity of agro-industrial activities in the areas adjacent to the provinces of Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro.

4) Promote scientific investigation and the natural and cultural legacies of the areas.

5) Develop eco-tourism.

6) Encourage bi-nacional cooperation in protecting and managing natural resources.

The people living in these areas primarily earn their living from farming. Since 1930 farmers have greatly influenced the environment with the harvesting of trees, and the production of coffee, vegetables and cattle. These activities have stressed the now protected areas, causing the government create s Parque Nacional Volcán Barú y Parque Internacional La Amistad.

There are more than 12 zones of the region recognized by the Holdridge life zones system, including:

1) mountain rain forest 2) high humidity mountain forest 3) lower mountain rain forest 4) lower mountain high humidity forest 5) lower mountain humid forest, 6) pre-mountain rain forest 7) high humidity pre-mountain forest 8) high humidity tropical forest y 9) a life zone not indicated by Tosi (1971), but which has been recently confirmed by the literature, sub-alpine rainy moor.

The life zones of the highlands are located on the foothills and peaks of the Talamancan Corridor and Volcan Baru. The intermediate zones are found on both coasts. In the lower elevations there are life zones characteristic of lower elevations. In some cases the sequences does not adhere to this general description due to the precipiations, cloudinessw and wind direction.

The contribution of numerous scientists are based upon the location, environmental conditions and the varieties of species in a given area. In Panama there are 2 bio-regions, 7 eco-regions and three mangrove complexes that contain four types of mangroves.

Studies have indentified eight conservation objectives that target the most threatened by human intervention, as follows:

natural pastures, large mammals, high altitude cloud forests, oak groves and moors, forests that transition between cloud forests and lower elevation tropical forests, high altituide humid zones, endemic species, migratory species, and aquatic ecosystems.
La Reserva de la Biosfera La Amistad es un conjunto de áreas naturales protegidas compartida por Costa Rica y Panamá, el sector costarricense del parque fue inscrito en la Lista de Patrimonios de la Humanidad en 1983, y el sector panameño en 1990. Este Sitio Patrimonio de la Humanidad Transnacional es mencionado como Cordillera de Talamanca-La Amistad/ Parque Nacional La Amistad.

El Parque Internacional La Amistad (PILA) fue creado por la Resolución de Junta Directiva 21-88 del 2/9/88, con una extensión de 207,000 has, es una de las unidades de manejo más grandes del sistema de áreas protegidas. Está ubicado en la provincia de Bocas del Toro (cerca del 97%) y en Chiriquí (el restante 3 %) al occidente del país. En tanto el Parque Nacional Volcán Barú fue creado por decreto ley del 24 de julio 1976 con 14,300has.

También la zona de influencia, incluye otras áreas protegidas y las reservas indígenas. Las acciones que se llevan a cabo en este sitio prioritario se han venido realizando en coordinación con grupos de base con el fin de encontrar alternativas económicas y educativas, fortalecimiento de la coordinación binacional y apoyo a actividades de monitoreo sobre el estado de la biodiversidad en la región.

Esta reserva del lado panameño esta formado por las siguientes unidades de manejo.

Áreas Protegidas

Esto consiste en 6 áreas e incluye, áreas terrestres así como marinas. El total de extensión es de 270,151has.

Parque Nacional Volcán Barú (14,300has)
Parque Internacional la Amistad (207,000has)
Humedal de importancia internacional Lagunas de Volcán (143has)
Humedal de importancia internacional San San Pond Sak (16,125has)
Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos (13,226has)
Reserva Forestal Fortuna (19,500has)

La zona de amortiguamiento consiste en tres áreas con una extensión aproximada de 300,517has. La sección no protegida de las cuencas altas de los ríos Chiriquí Viejo, Caldera, Los Valles y Fortuna hasta una cota de 1200msnm.

Bosque Protector de Palo Seco
El área de las Propuestas comarcales Naso y Bribri

La zona de transición se refiere al área que se esta en un cambio de prácticas amigables a las áreas protegidas y compatibles con ellas. Y estas consisten de dos zonas. 1. Provincia de Chiriquí: todas las áreas adyacentes a la zona de Amortiguamiento (Zona de Vecindad) hasta una cota de 1000 msnm. 2. Provincia de Bocas del Toro: áreas adyacentes al BPPS hasta una cota de 100msnm.

Desde su creación el PILA ha estado bajo la responsabilidad de manejo del Estado de Panamá. De tal forma la Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente es la entidad encargada de velar por la conservación de este sitio. Los objetivos de conservación del PILA son los siguientes:

Proteger una muestra significativa de la diversidad biológica de una de las zonas más ricas en fauna y flora que aún permanecen poco alteradas en la República de Panamá.
Proteger las cuencas hidrográficas superiores de los ríos Teribe y Changuinola, asegurando su estabilidad y calidad hídrica para el aprovechamiento de su potencial hidroeléctrico, considerado el mayor del país.

Mantener un marco ambiental natural y estable que asegure el desarrollo socioeconómico y cultural de los pobladores aguas abajo, disminuyendo los riesgos de inundación y garantizando la continuidad de las actividades agroindustriales que se dan actualmente en las áreas aledañas de las provincias de Bocas del Toro y Chiriquí.

Promover la investigación científica y la investigación de la herencia natural y cultural existente en el área.

Aprovechar el potencial turístico del paisaje natural inalterado, así como de sus componentes biológicos.

Estrechar los lazos de amistad y aunar los esfuerzos binacionales en materia de protección y manejo de recursos naturales de los pueblos hermanos de Costa Rica y Panamá.

Las poblaciones aledañas al PILA son comunidades dedicadas principalmente a la producción agrícola, las cuales han influido grandemente al cambio de uso de suelo a partir de 1930 con la extracción madera, posteriormente con las prácticas agrícolas, con la producción de café, hortalizas, además de la ganadería. Estas actividades han ejercido presiones en las áreas naturales, por lo cual el Estado panameño crea los actuales parques nacionales Parque Nacional Volcán Barú y Parque Internacional La Amistad.

En la región hay nueve de las 12 zonas de vida reconocidas en el sistema de clasificación de Holdrige para Panamá: 1) bosque pluvial montano, 2) bosque muy húmedo montano, 3) bosque pluvial montano bajo, 4) bosque muy húmedo montano bajo, 5) bosque húmedo montano bajo, 6) bosque pluvial premontano, 7) bosque muy húmedo premontano , 8) bosque muy húmedo tropical y 9) bosque muy húmedo tropical y 10) una zona de vida no indicada en el trabajo de Tosi (1971), pero que ha sido recientemente confirmada por literatura, la de páramo pluvial subalpino.

Las zonas de vida de tierras altas están ubicadas en las cimas y estribaciones superiores de la cordillera de Talamanca y el macizo del Volcán Barú. Las zonas de vida intermedias se encuentran en ambas costas. En los sectores de menor altura, en el área regional se encuentran las zonas de vida características de tierras bajas. En algunos casos las secuencias de aparición de las zonas de vida no se apega a esta descripción general, debido al efecto de los patrones estacionales de: Precipitación, nubosidad y fuerza y dirección de los vientos.

Contribuciones de numerosos científicos y el cual se basa en: la localización geográfica, condiciones ambientales y composición de especies de las comunidades. En Panamá se identificaron 2 bioregiones, con 7 ecoregiones y 3 complejos de manglar los cuales contienen 4 unidades de manglares. De estas categorías en el área regional están presentes una bioregión y 3 ecoregiones, además de un complejo de manglar con una unidad de manglar.

Mediante estudios efectuados en el área se han identificado ocho objetos de conservación dado que estos son los más amenazados por las presiones humanas en la zona. Los objetos de conservación se presentan a continuación:

Pastizales naturales, mamíferos grandes, bosques nubosos de altura, robledales y páramos
bosques de transición entre bosque nuboso y los bosques tropicales de tierras bajas, humedales de altura, especies endémicas, especies migratorias altitudinales, ecosistemas acuáticos.

How your coffee purchase influences the environment

How coffee is produced has a powerful impact on the environment, and where coffee is often grown makes this an extremely important topic.

In the 1980’s producers starting clearing their fields because growing coffee in full sunlight produces a higher yield and does so faster. However, not only does this require deforestation, which diminishes habitat and reduces carbon requestration, it also requires increased use of pesticides and fertilizers. These products, such as Round-up, damage the environment and threaten the health of workers.

Agro-chemical run off is a problem that threatens the health of water supplies and the fish population. Because the fields are deforested and the chemicals strip the ground of vegetation, there is more soil erosion. Not only is the erosion itself a problem, which is often met by adding more fertilizer to the soil, but the run off reaches streams, rivers or the water tables. These waters are consumed by downstream inhabitants, be they human or animal. Agro-chemicals that reach coastal areas in the threaten fish and coastal mangrove and other flora. Because coffee is grown in 16 of the 34 environmental hotspots in the world (see Conservation International, our buying practices have a powerful environmental impact.

Buying shade grown organic coffee means paying more money, although if it were the predominant product prices would likely be lower than current levers for shade grown organic coffee. Until or unless this happens, consumers are likely to continue buying products that harm zones critical to the environmental health of the planet unless they understand the effects of their choice.

The following organizations campaign for shade grown coffee: The American Birding Association, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, National Arbor Day Foundation.
Coffee production requires significant water, which can be reduced using proper methods. According to New Scientist it takes 20,000 liters, about 5000 gallons, to make a kilo, or 2.2 pounds of coffee. If there is plenty of water in the area, then this is not a problem but this water is contaminated and has to be properly treated. ADATA member APRE is doing just that in its new coffee processing plant.
La producción de cafe tiene un fuerte impact ambiental. Porque se produce la mayor parte del cafe en areas fragiles, éste es un tema de mucha importancia, y como consumidores podemos mejorar el medioambiente.

En los años ochenta, los productores empezaron deforester sus fincas de cafe para crecer el cafe en el sol. Cafe crecido en el sol produce más cafe y por eso los productores podrían ganar mas.

In the 1980’s producers starting clearing their fields because growing coffee in full sunlight produces a higher yield and does so faster. However, not only does this require deforestation, which diminishes habitat and reduces carbon requestration, it also requires increased use of pesticides and fertilizers. These products, such as Round-up, damage the environment and threaten the health of workers.

Agro-chemical run off is a problem that threatens the health of water supplies and the fish population. Because the fields are deforested and the chemicals strip the ground of vegetation, there is more soil erosion. Not only is the erosion itself a problem, which is often met by adding more fertilizer to the soil, but the run off reaches streams, rivers or the water tables. These waters are consumed by downstream inhabitants, be they human or animal. Agro-chemicals that reach coastal areas in the threaten fish and coastal mangrove and other flora. Because coffee is grown in 16 of the 34 environmental hotspots in the world (see Conservation International, our buying practices have a powerful environmental impact.

Buying shade grown organic coffee means paying more money, although if it were the predominant product prices would likely be lower than current levers for shade grown organic coffee. Until or unless this happens, consumers are likely to continue buying products that harm zones critical to the environmental health of the planet unless they understand the effects of their choice.

The following organizations campaign for shade grown coffee: The American Birding Association, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, National Arbor Day Foundation.
Coffee production requires significant water, which can be reduced using proper methods. According to New Scientist it takes 20,000 liters, about 5000 gallons, to make a kilo, or 2.2 pounds of coffee. If there is plenty of water in the area, then this is not a problem but this water is contaminated and has to be properly treated. ADATA member APRE is doing just that in its new coffee processing plant.

Pen and ink, water colors, Panama | Beace scene Panama

Pen and ink, water colors, Panama

 

Las Lajas Beach Hotel, Panama

Las Lajas Beach Hotel, Panama numbered print

 

Las Lajas Beach View To the Sea. I did this from the room of our cabin on the beach and sometimes in the surf

Las Lajas Beach View To the Sea. Numbered print.  I did this from the room of our cabin on the beach and sometimes in the surf

 

 

Las Lajas View To the Sea

Las Lajas Beach View To the Sea, numbered print. I did this from the room of our cabin on the beach and sometimes in the surf

 

Las Lajas Beach, Panama (water color) numbered print

Las Lajas Beach, Panama (water color) numbered print

 

Orange and Coffee, Panama, in the mountains near Santa Clara, Chiriqui

Orange and Coffee, Panama, in the mountains near Santa Clara, Chiriqui. Numbered print

 

Man In Canoe, Panama

Man In Canoe, Panama, pen and ink numbered print

 

 

Myths

Some mythical beliefs I have run across:

Latino beliefs

Last December at Christmas time, I was talking with a woman about the holiday.  Somehow the subject of Santa Claus came up.  She said she was sure that there was not one now but was not sure if there was one in the past.  She was talking about a Santa Claus that went to each home on Christmas eve delivering gifts, not about a historical St Nicholas, for example (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas).

Several times this year the subject of ‘La Bruja” has come up. La Bruja means the witch (feminine).  The version I heard says that the Bruja hides at night and jumps upon unwary passers-by in desolate areas.  She reserves special mistreatment for those who doubt her existence.

Also see;

http://songosmeltingpot.blogspot.com/2007/09/panamanian-myths-and-legends.html

Ngäbe beliefs I have collected. Ngäbes are an indigenous people who live in reserved areas called Comarcas, which are somewhat and only somewhat independent.

1) as related by a young Ngäbe woman in Santa Clara, Chiriqui in July, 2010

  • A woman liked to drink blood during the full moon. She would go to a funeral to mourn but it was just to get near the body and at night she would drink the blood. Her activity was eventually uncovered and she was killed. The diviner told them to bury her face down or she would comeback. They failed to do so and she came back at the full moon, upon which they saw the shape of a donkey. She took the donkey form and then ate some people. But the diviner took the form of a tiger and killed her, cutting her into pieces for the animals to eat so she could not return.
  • If someone dies under mysterious circumstances it can be blamed on people who badmouth others.
  • If a baby is ill they think a spirit is tormenting it. They come together and pray to get rid of the bad spirit.
  • A baby was ill. An uncle went for medicine and while he was walking he saw a naked person and a dog which began to run towards towards the naked person. He closed his eyes and when he opened them again the naked person had disappeared. Rocks began to fall on the uncle but he continued on. A voice said, “ Go no farther, the baby is already dead.” He went on anyway to buy the medicine but he had no money and could not make the purchase. He went back home and the baby had died when the voice spoke to him. 2) as related to me by a volunteer who has lived with the Gnäbes for two years.
  • Myth of the headlamp: When they were still nomadic, people with lights coming out of their heads came and ate some Gnäbes. The Gnäbes went to the forest to find a protective herb, put it in a bottle, and the next time the people with lights came the Gnäbes were protected.

  • If you keep candles lit the ‘maleantes’ (bad guys) can not bother you. If the candles go out, the maleantes will come.

  • If the theory of evolution were true, then monkeys would be becoming humans, said one in response to an explanation of evolution.

  • Evil eye stories (ojear is the verb for ‘to give the evil eye’)

    • B was supposedly the victim of an evil eye because some woman wanted him.

    • A previous volunteer in the community was also the victim, which caused her knee problems.

    • E related the story of a boy who was walking to his family’s secondary dwelling. He complained of being tired and returned home. That night his sister woke up to find her brother standing in his bed with his head on backwards. He was dead the next morning.

    • Twins have the power of the evil eye and they know it. One of them is always good and the other always bad. In T’s community one of them, was only fed chocolate beginning soon after birth. The parents had determined which of the twins would be evil and had deliberately caused his death.

    • In E’s community the village matriarch died suddenly. E returned from an outing and found the village deserted. He eventually found them living in the rough, fearing her spirit would harm them. They had gathered some belongings and a piece of metal roofing, using it or just trees for shelter from the rain.

The fair- the photos

These are photos from the Feria de Santa Clara, August 2010.  Peg spearheaded this effort to develop more of a sense of community in Santa Clara and give people another source of income.

no images were found

The Hometown Fair

In March, while visiting one of the local’s coffee finca, Peg stumbled across some old hand tools. They were no longer a part of the routine of local farmers but very much a part of their history. The moisture that fills every breeze had deteriorated the wooden and iron rudimentary implements and not one local person was impressed by their existence.  Peg, however,  saw an opportunity to turn a piece of local history into an instrument for community building.

Five months later, for one very busy weekend, our sleepy little hamlet more than doubled in size as more than 750 people came to experience what began as an idea to  exhibit old farm tools that grew into two days of entertainment, sharing of traditional foods, handicrafts, music, in what everyone now says will be an annual event. Peg’s little idea, big vision, and even bigger commitment helped community members to learn valuable organizational, planning, marketing, and task management skills and to ultimately experience the joy of working together to accomplish a goal. And they did so with great success.

Both the mayor and the local representative made in-kind and cash contributions to the effort. Community members contributed their time and talent as they divvied up the responsibilities through numerous committees: publicity, stands, sports, entertainment, logistics and others.  They did a fabulous job!

Along with the intriguing displays of farm equipment from days gone by, there was ongoing entertainment. University students impressively performed some complex Panamanian folkloric dances while donning exquisitely designed dresses and a couple danced the Congo.   The school organized an elegant competition for Queen, in which the most talented teenagers danced across the stage to live music.  On Sunday, Peg and I demonstrated some international folk dances, including one from the United States called 12th Street Rag, which was created by black Americans in New Orleans as a take-off on a staid Scottish dance.  A group of local teens demonstrated their martial arts prowess through combat demonstrations and by breaking some pieces of lumber with their well practiced kicks.  There were soccer and volleyball competitions and a marathon, the winners of which walked away proudly with handsome trophies. There was even an exhibition of some very striking quarter horses.

Local agriculture and environmental groups had booths, as did some national government agencies.  MIDA (a government agency that supports farmers), after I gave them some technical assistance, was able to share their slide show.  The local town councilmen showed a video of the village displaying its attractive scenery and agricultural products, some of which are distributed across the country.  APRE, a producers association with nearly 100 members, shared some of the products of the region. ADATA (whom I helped with their website, see http://adataeng.megabyet.net/,), Fundiccep and Giropila, local environmental groups, also attended, selling promotional items and providing education materials.

So what exactly do Peace Corps volunteers do? We support the local people as they discover that they are capable of doing great things. Peg injected them with some organizing tools and task management skills and was a continuous source of motivation and encouragement with just a slight assist from me with technical support, booth wiring, and trash management. I obtained a donation of trash barrels, arranged for their transport, sawed them in half since they were way too big, bought plastic bags for them and for vendors.  In an amazing display of energy the locals made sure everything was cleaned up.  As a result the fairground was a appropriate backdrop for the clever booths and huts the locals constructed for the occasion.

This fair brought enthusiasm and a sense of community to our village, some earnings for worthwhile local charities, and the community learned many valuable lessons. They learned that they are capable of working together to create something that benefits them all. They learned that trash is something that must be planned for and managed if they want to protect their quality of life. And they learned some very practical and replicable organizational skills that will last them for a lifetime.

They are already using their new skills to evaluate the event and begin planning for next year.  While I was recuperating from minor surgery Peg took the 10 hour bus ride back home to attend the first post-event meeting.

This group is going to hold the fair next year.  Peg had them write their suggestions and concerns on sticky notes, and she organized the notes into a SWOT  (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) analysis.   This is one of the PC’s methods for strengthening organizational skills.  As a result they have the sound beginnings of an organizational plan as they start to build upon their threats, look for new opportunities, deal with their weaknesses and form strategies to deal with threats.

Thanks to Anita for her contribution to this story.

Training in ag business

In July I brought two people to a seminar that Peace Corps has been offering for the past several years in Agricultural Business.  This program deals with basic business aspects of farming:   SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats), general planning (vision and missions statements, goals, objectives) which is one of the parts I did, Setting up a corporation, personal finance, marketing, farm layout, loans (I did this part), insurance (I helped with this part),  and more.  This seminar took place near Penonome, the small regional capital of Cocle.  Fortunately we were outside of this hot town, a bit cooler albiet rainy.    There were 16 participants and about 10 volunteers, all of whom had one role or another.

I learned quite a bit from this seminar, especially how complex the farming process is.  Aside from know what to plant, how much, when to plant, how to fertilize, how to control pests and weeds, and much more, you have to have a good way to sell your products.  This complexity is illustrated by means of a chain wherein participants hold a card reading one of these activities (and there are more than I wrote), and then arranging themselves in order.  It took all 16 people or nearly!  I also learned how bright many of these people are, and how articulate and hard working.

These are farmers who sell their products so they are a bit above subsistence.  Most use chemicals but there are organic farmers among them, including one who is the coop president in his small town producing high altitude coffee.  I learned from him that a Canadian company has moved into his area.  They are looking for organic coffee.  Our home town group has that very product so I hope to help make some connections.

This seminar seems too long to me.  Beside that and some problems with the food, which was typical Panamanian meaning it lacked anything green and fresh and besides they served a dessert on top of a pile of yellow rice, and besides the volunteers who did not do much meal planning so we ended up with a dinner of sausage and ice cream, the week long event went well.

Oh, I forgot to mention, a local host served me liver and onions, for breakfast!  Panamanians do not often serve a breakfast menu as we know it, for them it is just another meal.

On the following Monday I helped A, another volunteer, do a half day seminar for a non profit organization.  I talked about keeping yourself organized, and about how to organize your computer.  They are using Windows XP.  I have switched from Windows to Linux, the Ubuntu version, but along the way I have learned how to run Windows from inside Ubuntu (you can also do it the other way around).  I can just switch back and forth, with no worries about Ubuntu getting infected with viruses and other malware from the internet or from flash drives.  These problems are rampant here in Windows products.

I enjoy spending time with A.  She is very bright and well educated so we find enough to talk about, and we seldom squabble.  But if you learn how to squabble with someone., that means you have made the effort to get to know how to do it well.

Newsletter from Santa Clara

All editions of the newsletter from Santa Clara will be posted here,

These are put together  by Peg. Click on edition you want to see, then another link with appear with that edition only. Click on that link and a pdf viewer will open.  It might take a click on the link and another after that.

LaEstrella 2nd edition

La Estrella 3rd edition

4th edition

5th edition

7th edition

Dodging bullets, sleeping in caves

Somehow our staying in Volcan during the emergency period earlier this week became Peggy’s departure for the United States and my fleeing into Costa Rica.   This came about apparently while one of our neighbors was listening in on my phone conversation with our landlord Lily.

I had called her to explain what was happening, although we had explained it to our counter part, who in fact was there when our sector leader came to our Business Planning Seminar to tell us that we had to close the seminar a day early.  Nonetheless we felt we should let her know directly.

So the neighbor who had been listening in somehow came to the conclusion not that we were comfortably waiting in nearby Volcan, a mere 45 minute, 200 curve bus ride away. We stayed there because it is closer to our collection point where we all had to go if we were being evacuated, and to food, medical care and our transport options were better.  In addition, we stayed with two other volunteers, one of whom is a nurse.  If anyone needed extra help, being unable to walk or whatever, there being four of us together gave us more options.

By the time we returned, our neighbors thought we were possibly not returning.  So for fun I began embellishing the story, complaining about having to sleep on the stone floor of a cave in the Costa Rican mountains while police passed within inches and tigers roamed in the darkness.  They are used to my joking by now and know more or less when I am being serious.  More or less.

Yesterday’s strikes peaceful

Demonstrations in Panama City yesterday came off peacefully.  Martinelli, the President, announced the government would suspend implementation of the so called 9 in 1  law, also called the ‘chorizo’ (sausage) law.  The government presumably will hold dialogues, and would not prosecute strike leaders.

Peace Corp volunteers are still restricted to their present locations.  Further demonstrations are scheduled this week.