Sunday, June 7, 2015
We travel an hour and a half from Panamá City to Portobelo, Colón, a region of Panamá with a large Afro-Panamanian community.
Here we are on a boat ride!
We later stop at a market with crafts created by the Kuna people, an ethnic group in Panamá. Above is a photo of a woman selling molas.
Afterward, we head to Aldea SOS Colón!
When we arrive, our bus pulls inside what reminds of a gated community. What I would come to learn with all the other orphanages is that there are little houses where the kids stay based on age. In each house (at this particular orphanage) there is a living room, small kitchen, dining table, a certain number of rooms where the kids sleep and a bathroom.
Before we start dancing, the Tias of the house cook a meal for us! We all talk about how delicious the food is, especially the rice which has been cooked in coconut water.
After we clean up, we start dancing with the kids!
My group throughout the trip includes Olivia, Hayley and Kim.
We work with the older group first, beginning with a name game where a person says his or her name and compliments their name with a movement. Then everyone says the person’s name and copies the move. Afterward we some more dance/movement activities.
For rest of the time, we practice a very cool combination that Kim created.
Not too far away, the other group works with the little kids!
When it’s our turn to work with the little ones, we play the name game again. But soon they became restless so we bring out the hula hoops, light up balls and drawing paper. I’m caught up in talking to one of the girls, she’s telling me to hold her light up ball so that no one takes it when it suddenly starts pouring. And I mean pour! There is no warning, no trickling of rain…it is like several clouds have been holding their bladders for way too long and just can’t handle it anymore. Some of the volunteers and kids dance in the rain, others continue drawing or playing with the hula hoops. After a while we move to where the older kids are dancing and it becomes an all out dance party. First, each group performs the routines they learned and then we have a kick-ass cypher.
The memory of dancing in the rain with everyone will always be etched in my mind. I can hear the pouring rain now, I can see different people dancing in the circle and the moment Tinna and one of the girls have a mini dance off!
We are having so much fun, it’s hard to leave. But, when we do say goodbye to the kids, I think to myself, “man I wish I had more time with them” (because you know haha, my Spanish was horrible and I really want to talk to them more!).
When we get back to Magnolia Inn, we take showers and get dressed to eat at a nearby cafe. I love walking through the streets in Casco Viejo ( the historic district where the hostel is located) and observing my surroundings. I feel like a tourist though, like I’m looking at everything through a snow globe or something. I’m very far away, where even though I’m close, I can’t see the details of Panamá, of the people. I know that spending more time here could erase some of that feeling, and hopefully (even though it’s only the second day) I can return to Panamá to really understand and learn about the country. After we sit down and order food, Tinna officially welcomes us to Movement Exchange. Everyone goes around the table to talk about their apples and onions (our ups and downs during the day). My apple is of course, the whole day! My onion is the language barrier and having a hard time having a conversation without stumbling over words (I SHOULD HAVE LEARNED IN MIDDLE SCHOOL, HIGH SCHOOL, COLLEGE…hellooo Simone what were you doing all those years?!!). Despite that onion, I had so much fun!
Key Lessons Learned:
1. I’ll always remember the experience of dancing despite the down pour and applying this to the challenges in my life
2. I need to build my movement vocabulary
3. DEFINITELY need to work on my Spanish