I lost my loafers in Panama

I didn’t really, but I wish I had known about our trip across a river, treacherous ride in a truck through the bumpy hills of Panama and the two-mile hike in the middle of the jungle that our group conquered Thursday. The reason I wish I had known is because I was wearing dress shoes and dress pants the entire time.

I wanted to look professional for our interviews, but I ended up looking foolish. We laughed it off though. I’ll be wearing shorts and sneakers from now on.

Anyway, day two was unbelievable and it isn’t even over yet. I could write about the happening of today for hours. But here are a few highlights.

We met in the morning and interviewed several parents of children with Osteogenesis Imperfecta. They brought the children, two of which were babies, and they were so cute. I was the interviewer with the help of our translator Maria. it was hard engaging with the people because of the language barrier, but I did my best to keep.

The morning interviews went well and then we began a long car trip to the East towards Columbia. We had no idea where we were going, but several military police checkpoints had us a little bit nervous. It all went OK though and we arrived at our destination. Or did we?

As we got out of the car we were greeted by the smell of fish, a large river and a few tiny shops and restaurants, but no houses. We were supposed to be going to a family’s house to talk to the mother about her daughter’s OI condition. The mother and baby were with us, but we were quite confused. Jokingly I said, I bet we have to take a boat to get there. The joke is on me, we did have to take a boat to get there.

The small motor boat looked more like a beat up gandalla. When we crossed to the other side we were greeted by horses and a truck covered by a canopy. The truck drove us up and done several hills and into the jungle and countryside of Panama. We had no idea we would be going here. The sites were beautiful and we got to see a different side of Panama. We were very secluded and there were no people around, no cars, no roads, no anything. Just us and our truck driving up a bumpy makeshift dirt road.

The truck dropped us off and we had a long hike ahead of us. We trecked through the jungle, or whatever it was, for about 30 minutes and close to two miles. We arrived at the house which was nothing more than a hut. It consisted of one open air room, a bedroom and what appeared to be a laundry rack. It was unreal to see the living conditions that this mother and her baby lived in. The mother grew up there and her father and sister still live there. It was so different than anything we could have ever imagined. When the baby grows up, they will have to move though because of the condition. It is unsafe for the child to walk and play around so many hills, cliffs and rough terrain. More to come on this story later. We shot footage today for a documentary on this family.

After hiking back to the truck stop, we hopped on again and then crossed the river in the boat again before finally getting back in the air conditioning of our cars. We were dying of thirst and so hot and sweaty. I was not dressed for the outdoor activity we just completed.

After a very, very late lunch, we started driving back to the City of Knowledge. Unfortunately we took several wrong turns, but those were after I got in the wrong lane at a toll booth and had to back out and then weave between some cones as a large bus was speeding towards us. We made it though.

The wrong turns took us on a scenic yet very out of the way tour of Panama. We almost crossed the causeway to the islands on the south end of the country, then we headed straight north, which was also the wrong way. Finally, after a few trips into scary neighborhoods, a lot of laughs, jokes and randimonium (it’s an inside joke) we made it back.

It was a great day and actually very productive, but we are exhausted. If day two was this good and chalked full of stories, what does tomorrow have in store? We’ll see!

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