That's right, I'm 30 now, 30 + 1 week! As many of you know, I haven't been living in the community of Hato Chami for a little while now. I was asked in June if I would come help plan training for the incoming group of volunteers, so I more or less moved to Panama City on July 1st. I am sharing an apartment in the city near the Peace Corps office.
I went back to Chami for a week at the end of July, and it was fun to hang out with my beloved community members, and I spent the work doing an informal arts & crafts camp with some of my favorite faces there. As I left that week, I promised to come back up and celebrate the big 3-0!
Originally Ben and I talked about going all out - going someplace exotic, far-out, having a big party or something of the sort, but on further thought, what more memorable way to celebrate such a milestone than by spending it in a remote indigenous village in the mountain cloud forest! So, on Saturday the 14th, I got on a bus out of Panama City bright and early and traveled all day to get up to Chami. (I've had SUPER bad luck traveling long distances lately - another story - and the chiva broke down on the way up). I spent the night in town, and then the next day I baked a cake and took it down to Balbina's restaurant.
Her family and our landlord's family came, we ate a little, sat around, talked and laughed, ate cake and got chocolate frosting everywhere. Juana & Marizin (two of the young girls) ran all over town in the rain to try to find balloons for me, with no luck, but when they got back they decided to be creative and make their own pinata.
The girls took an empty rice bag and filled it with candy and flour - you CAN'T have a good pinata without flour in Panama! They then proceeded to throw it all over me! I was COVERED! It was a blast. That's turning 30 in style. I don't think I'll ever forget this birthday. It was a day filled with my new Panamanian family, my best friends in the area, some awesome kids, and Ben. Not much could have made the day better. My parents asked me what gifts I got this year, and I realized I didn't get anything. Nothing material at least, what I've really gotten is the most amazing experience of my lifetime. So cheers, and many happy years to come!