Tag: Tech Week

Tech Week {PST Week 6}

Tech Week {PST Week 6}

“Edi! How do you like it here?”

I looked up from my bowl of rice, chicken feet, and boiled yuca, trying to make out the voice that was talking to me. It was the black of night, and there wasn’t a light to be found except from the glow of the embers beneath fogon. I was trying my best to figure out how to eat the skin off the chicken foot and was not focused on conversing with the Ngabe host family that was letting me stay at their penca casita. Half slurping the skin off a chicken foot that was hanging out of my mouth, I replied, “I really like the Comarca and hope I get to live in a site like this one.”

“We really like you and would love for you to stay here and live with us forever!”

The chicken foot dropped back in my bowl and I looked around the dark area in bewilderment. Did they really just say that? Considering everything I’ve heard about the Ngobe-Bugle people, they’re very reserved people so I was surprised they openly wanted to welcome me into their home like family so quickly. Later that night, they presented me with the most beautiful gift; a bright sky blue nagua with carefully crafted dientes of lime green, red, and black. I felt so at home during Tech Week that I started to imagine what life would be like for two years in the Comarca. 


It was 3 AM and I was up, packed, and ready to head out. It was the first day traveling to Tech Week in the Comarca Ngobe-Bugle, and we had to catch the diablo rojo to ride an hour and a half into Panama City. From there we took a bus for 6 hours west to the entrada of Tole and then a chiva for another hour until we came up to the most beautiful view of all of the lush, green valley out to the ocean. It had been an extremely long day, so after making a very long, muddy hike, my roommate, Shelby, and I arrived at our host family’s bamboo hut.

Host family gathered around the fogon & eating area

Inside, the family had sectioned off a section for Shelby and I by hanging up blankets as a barrier. There were two beds that looked more like wooden tables, since they were just slabs of wood without any sort of mattress or blanket. The more comfortable option was to sleep in a hammock, so Shelby and I strung them up along with our mosquito nets. For dinner, our host family gave us a giant purple potato each, along with hot coffee. My mind immediately zoned in on the coffee; my first test. Everything I learned during PST so far about drinking the cafe or chicha was that the water is probably dirty so you need to cloro it, you’re probably going to get a parasite if you’re not careful with what you drink. What do I do about this coffee though? I sighed, accepted my fate that I will probably contract some sort of parasite at some point anyways, and drank it. This is my life now, I thought to myself.

Tech Week was filled with tons of projects that wore me out after each day; throwing the plancha for an aquaduct tank, constructing the frame for the tank, building latrines, and clearing out the ojos de agua. I think we made so much ferrocement that it is forever ingrained in me. And I also have a new-found appreciation for those spinning self-mixing concrete contraptions. When we weren’t involved in our main projects, we played soccer with the gente, learned how to make soap, hiked around the monte, and went to the school to present a charla to the kids. It was a full and exhausting week, but we learned so much about our future work in our communities.

Pouring concrete for the plancha for the aqueduct tank
Rodding the freshly poured concrete
Mixing concrete by hand
The finished plancha!
Pouring concrete for the latrine seat
Comarca vistas
Constructing the frame of the aqueduct tank
Futbol game with the gente
I just really liked the essence of this photo
Apparently I wasn’t muddy enough…
Post-futbol muddiness
Nagua from my host family
WASH women in the school
Teaching the kids about WASH in school
Charla about latrine usage
Another beautiful morning in the Comarca