Monday, October 16, 2006

Yesi to Messy

I left the US Jessica. Right away the Panamanians couldn´t handle it and promptly christened me Yesi, which actually sounds like Jessie, but I have to say it with a ¨y¨ for them to say it back with a ¨j¨ and the first couple of times I get the whole enchilada (mmm...), Jessica, but they like names that end in that i/y sound, so presto, Yesi.

Now after spending cultural week with a Ngabe host family, they decided that Yesi wouldn´t do and that I needed a Ngabe name--enter Belina, which I liked, but alas, it wasn´t meant to be.

My site, what can I day that would paint you the right picture? Even if you visited, you would see it with different eyes. I know because I did. At first I was awe struck by the natural beauty of the mountains and the clouds rolling in; the cultural beauty of the colorful nagwa dresses and bamboo houses. But the first few days were tough--all my doubts seized me and so huge a part of me (that I wondered what was left) wanted OUT. It didn´t help that the people are extremely shy and speak their own language that I can´t understand. Can I really help these people, or rather, can I really help these people help themselves?

Somehow, as the days passed, it got better. I forced myself to see all the reasons to stay. The people here are motivated and ready to fix their aqueduct. Their shyness is melting and I have found myself subject to quite a few chatterbox sallys. And the kids, its something about their smiles, their laughs, their simplicity. My work as a PCV will directly affect them, their can I just walk away?

So we had a meeting....I had to give an on the spot speech in spanish (yikes, but i think it went rather well, mom, if only you had been there to give a fair assessment), and then they had a vote on what my Ngabe name should be. Belina wouldn´t do because they hadn´t chosen it. They voted, twice, between 3 names....8-3-2 put Messy atop, and for all you gringos, that´s pure Ngabe with no relation to its english significance.

Pues, only a week and a half left till i become an official PCV!