Panama Day One: Plains, trains and the canal

The temperature in my car read 21 degrees when I hopped in to drive to our meeting destination at 3:45 Wednesday morning. I didn’t mind the blistering cold knowing that by the end of the day I’d be in hot and sunny Panama.

After months of talk, planning and anticipation we finally touched down in Panama City around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. The view from the sky was awesome. Panama City is much larger than I ever imaged. The downtown skyline is littered with hundreds of skyscrapers, about half of which are being built. The view was even better as we drove through downtown Panama City.

The NGO groups we are working with in Panama met us at the airport and we were given a police escort to la Ciudad del Saber (The City of Knowledge) where we are staying. We were stunned by the police escort, but it was pretty cool. I even got to ride in the back of the police car. The language barrier with the police officers was definitely difficult since my Spanish is very limited and rust and their English was almost nonexistent. The police officer was able to talk about the Red Sox with me after I told him I was from Boston.

We checked into the villas we are staying in which are pretty nice. They are basically apartments on a small college campus that is located in the Panama Canal Zone. There is a train nearby and the canal is practically across the street. We then walked to a nearby restaurant to meet and talk more about our project.

We had a great discussion with a woman named Dyanna who is our main contact for the project. She set up our schedule for the week which is jammed packed with meetings and interviews with Osteogenesis Imperfecta patients. Having the schedule set up was a huge help and a surprise for us when we arrived and met with her. We were thrilled to have a set schedule in place because it will make things so much easier for us as a group.

Our main focus now after speaking with Dyanna is now shifting gears more towards drawing attention to OI in Panama and trying to drive medical professionals to this area to hep out. The health care systems here do not cover OI expenses and most of the kids we will be speaking with don’t get any treatment because there aren’t enough doctors in Panama that can treat them. Some get treatment in the United States but it is so expensive that treatment is limited for the people here.

Our schedule includes a lot of travel to different homes of families who are impacted by OI. We have a lot of early and log days bt we are all exited to tackle this project and do our part to help these kids get better treatment for their disease. We start back up Thursday at 7 a.m., so that’s enough for tonight, I’ll have more tomorrow.


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