Early yesterday morning we woke up and headed out to Lake Gatun for our last day in Panama. When we arrived at the dock we waited for Captain Carl to pick us up and take us to the houseboat where we would be spending our last night. On the way, he took us on a tour of the canal and all the surrounding areas. During the ride, we stopped twice and captain Carl gave us the chance to feed bananas and peanuts to wild monkeys. Soon after we arrived at the houseboat we choose our rooms, set down our luggage and ran upstairs to claim our hammocks, which provided us with a perfect view of the lake. We all took a short nap and were happy to wake up and see that we were being served a delicious lunch. Shortly after eating we all went kayaking through the jungle with captain Carl. Though it was challenging and there were many bugs and critters jumping all over us, we eventually made our way to a beautiful waterfall where we were able to jump off and swim for a while. The trip back to the houseboat was easier because we finally figured out how to maneuver the kayak. When we arrived back we stayed in the water to swim and jump off the top of the houseboat. Once again we found ourselves relaxing in the hammocks drifting off to sleep with the sound of a wild jungle in the background. We woke up and waited for some of the group to come back from fishing, and enjoyed our final dinner together while watching a slide show that Erick prepared recapturing our last 10 days. Next Captain Carl took us on a night crocodile hunt! After about 30 minutes of searching we finally found a baby “crocky” and named OSCAR! He was passed around the boat and began to get antsy, so Andi returned him back to his home. At the end of the night we all crammed into our room with a few of our fellow dance volunteers, and played UNO until we all were deliriously tired! The next morning we woke up to a gorgeous rainstorm that we could see right outside our room. A fresh breakfast was awaiting us as our group had the final chance to reflect on all that we had done these past ten days. We packed our stuff, took pictures, took our final swings in the hammocks and said goodbye to our houseboat and to Andi and Sheena who were staying on the houseboat for an extra day. On our way to the airport we stopped for fruit, salads, and snacks for the rest of the afternoon, picked up our luggage at the hostel and rushed to Casco Viejo for our last trip to the ice cream shoppe!! There we said goodbye to Audrey and Carina who were staying in the city for an extra day. Finally at the airport, we checked in, had lunch, and right before we went to the gates were surprised by Juan, who just came to see us take off.
We are now on our way home, these are our final thoughts:
This entire trip was a complete eye-opening experience to see how the other half-lives. With this, seeing the kids made me evaluate my own out look on life, due to how happy they were without having half of the opportunities/experiences as I have had. I feel so blessed that I was able to partake in the experience. –Ari
This trip has been an amazing life changing experience. I feel so blessed to have met new people and to have had the chance to work with such amazing kids. This experience has helped me open my eyes to the world around me and has taught me to take in everything, even if they may be out of my comfort zone. -Lianna
I feel blessed that I got the chance to experience this trip not only with my family, but also with strangers who eventually became a part of that family. We all shared dance in common, and I couldn’t be more happy that we all got to share and exchange that passion with the kids in panama. Seeing those kids smile just because your loving and caring for them, made me see life in a new perspective and I definitely feel so thankful for everything including family and friends. –Brittany
This entire trip has made me feel so incredibly blessed. It definitely reminded me that I am very fortunate to live the way I’ve lived. I am so thankful to have had the chance to work with those girls, who I consider a part of me now. This experience is not something you can explain in words, it’s something you have to partake in to fully understand. The girls at Malambo did so much more than learn a dance from me; they taught me that even though life may bring you down, there is always a reason to smile. It was amazing to be able to step out of the rush of life back at home, and really examine what’s important and what’s not. I am so thankful that I was able to go on this journey, and I will forever treasure it. –Robyn
Who knew a 10 day trip would cause so many emotions. Panama and I have formed a bond that no one can ever understand. I never imagined how close I would get to every aspect of Panama: the beautiful architecture, the community events, the delicious food, the friendly Panamanians, and most importantly, every child that I worked with. Letting go has been the hardest part, and I can't wait to reunite with it all next year! Thank you Panama, I'll never forget you! -Chip (Pepitas)
As always, Panama is a special place for me. And as we settle back into the lives that we are accostumed to, I challenge all of our family and friends to live life completely, take the time to admire the world in which we live, smile at a stranger, and give back to your community….
Thanks for following our 2011 Panama Experience! -Miss T