First Day In Colon

On Tuesday we woke up early to drive about an hour to somewhere (I can’t remember the name) where there’s a beach and where Analia’s grandma and great-grandma live. The plan was to go to the beach first and then to the grandma’s house (she lives across the road from the great-grandma) for some food etc. On the way to the beach we passed some ruins of a castle or something so we stopped to walk around it. Juli said it was something to do with Spain when they were invading Panama ages ago (I’m not really a history expert).

When we climbed up there was absolutely nothing stopping us from falling way down into the sea, but thankfully we didn’t, and this was the view:

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This is Analia a few centimetres from falling into the sea:

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And me…:

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It started raining so we ran to the car and drove to the beach, and thankfully the rain had gone when we got there. The beach itself was small with one restaurant, but it’s possible to cross on a boat for $5 each to another beach with more restaurants and things to do. We decided to stay on the small side because all we really needed was the sea and sand:

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Julie ate some octopus and rice from the restaurant and me and Analia messed around in the sea til our fingers went wrinkly, then we built a sandcastle (using things we found on the beach to dig because we had no shovels or anything). We also dug a hole to bury her but ants started biting her feet as soon as she was buried so she came out again.

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Next we went to Analia’s grandma’s house, which was in a really countryside area where you drive along and it’s all green, then there’s a house, then more green stuff, then another house etc and the houses along the road were all quite traditional/old, with the walls made of clay or something similar and the roof made of corrugated metal. It was really interesting for me because I’d never been in one of those houses, even though I see them all the time here.

There was an area that was semi outside but joined onto the house. The roof of this area was basically extended from the house and there was a concrete-like floor, but no walls. In this part was the toilet (with a curtain thing for a door), a sink to wash plates etc, and some chairs and a table. This is where we sat mostly. They had chickens who sometimes walked around near the feet of the great-grandma, and she had a kind of whip that she whipped the ground with (and she hissed at the same time) when they came near her, to make them run away. This was the first person I’d ever met who had a pig in their garden:

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Analia said they used to have 3 but they got killed to eat and sell.

Her grandma had prepared a bread mixture so we made it into shapes and put it on the baking tray. It was really some of the nicest bread I’ve ever tasted but I don’t know what her secret is. She made LOADS so everyone took some away in a plastic bag (there were also some other family friends there).

I saw the food cupboard in the house and it was basically just full of big bags of rice and flour, and some garlic and onions and plantains, which kind of added to the traditional feeling of the house.

The great-grandma was really sweet, holding my hand for like 10 seconds when I said goodbye, saying God bless you in everything you do etc. I thought it was really nice of Juli and Analia to take me there and introduce me to them.

That night we went to Pizza Hut to eat, probably because when we were driving to their house the previous night and passed it I was like “PIZZA HUT!! Oh my God!” etc, because we don’t have that in Bocas.

When we got home we got into pyjamas and all sat on Juli’s bed talking about differences between England and Panama etc. One of the main things we were talking about is travelling. In England a lot of people go on holiday every 1 or 2 years, and most people have at least been on an aeroplane once, but Juli and Analia have never been abroad. It’s not as if they’re really poor or anything – their day-to-day life doesn’t seem that dis-similar from the average person in England, but finding money for bigger things like holidays is difficult because of the relatively low salaries there etc. Analia’s dream is to go to America, especially for Disneyland, but she’s worried that she won’t be able to go there before she’s too old to not care about Disney any more. She’s really interested in learning English but at school the teaching isn’t great, so she’s asked her mum to put her on an extra course for it. I hope she can go there one day 🙂

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