The Kalu Yala Blog

“There’s no time like the present, no present like time.”

July 21, 2012

by Jamie Kotansky
Posted In: Voices of Kalu Yala, Wandering Thoughts

Welcome to San Miguel!

Georgia Byng is right. There is no time like the present. It took me going to Panama to realize that you have to live fully in the moment or you lose time. To twenty-somethings, it seems like we have a lot of time left. Hopefully, we do. However, its not the time we have but how we use it. In Panama you never know where the day will bring you, but that is what makes it so fun.  Looking back at the lists I made at the beginning of the summer, I realize that I have achieved many goals and objectives, but still have a few important projects to fulfill. At our “one month left” meeting on the 9th, Lillian (Community Outreach director) reminded us that we have to stay strong in these last couple of weeks, and finish out our ideas instead of leaving loose ends behind. Heather initiated the chalkboard paint wall (which is incredibly awesome) and Lea and Lillian bought some chicken wire, which we have been making into a fence for the garden. Jamie, along with the Animal Science girls, put on a successful “Arbol de la Vida” in the concha, and I officially started my “Who’s Who of San Miguel,” a book idea that started during orientation when Victor Ansley described people Kalu Yala knows in and around town.


A sunny afternoon in San Miguel


Conleigh, Heather and I celebrating Conleigh's 21st


Jamie, Kelly, Elly, and Don at 6am outside of Noris' house

On the 10th of July, Kate Stice came to San Miguel to shadow us for a day, which provided a great opportunity to show her some of the projects we are working on. She saw the school and got to help Emily in the 5th and 6th grade class. Since it was a Tuesday, she also was able to come to soccer practice, where she met the school librarian Miriam, and adult class, where she was introduced to our regulars, Catia and Martina. Although it was a full day, it was the perfect chance to meet important community members and see what we do during the week. After celebrating Conleigh’s birthday throughout the weekend, I realized that we have become increasingly close to one another. Not only is our cook Noris our “mother” and Anthropology director Evan our “papa,” but everyone is at the point where we can make fun of each other’s quirks. We also have quite a few quotes down pat, such as “patacones for days” and “snacks on snacks.” The most unique thing I did last week was watch Noris’ pig be slaughtered. Ellie, Kelly, Jamie, Don and I got up at 5:4am, but ended up waiting for the “matador,” or butcher, until 7:30am. While we waited,we had a lovely surprise, when Noris made us a big breakfast complete with coffee. Her family started showing up throughout the morning and it was great to get to know her daughters, son, husband, brother, sister in law, nephew, and uncle. I never thought that I would witness a pig being killed firsthand, first thing in the morning, but it was an experience I will never forget.


The matador in the pig pen, after knocking the pig out


Noris in her living room, giving us breakfast and cartoons


Soccer practice - arguing over a goal

Later that day, we held a Rio Clean Up, which is going to be a precursor to the real Rio Clean Up on the 22nd. We didn’t realize that many of the people in town are Seventh Day Adventist, which means that Saturday is their day of rest, so even though they really wanted to help us, they couldn’t. Once kids in town saw what we were doing they grabbed bags and gloves and made a huge dent in the amount of trash next to the river and on a path downtown. Since some of the girls are leaving a couple days early, the last 3 weeks are going to fly by. It is going to be a sad day when we have to say goodbye, but at least we can make the most out of the last 21 days and collaborate on more creative projects.

2 Responses to ““There’s no time like the present, no present like time.””

  1. Kate says:

    Gotta admit, the San Miguel interns are the toughest interns of all! I made it through one English class in the elementary school and needed a nap!

  2. John Dennis says:

    I applaud your attitude and conviction to follow your passion and also for making a difference for the good in the world, your sense of adventure. I stumbled upon your website by chance while searching for information on the phrase ” no time like the present” ….your website came up…and you appear to be the “poster-child” for that phrase. Great to hear that you enjoy and appreciate life in Panama ! Good luck to you in everything you do and wish for.