Jane Wright

Jane Wright

From Methven, New Zealand.


 Posted by Jane Wright at 1:04 pm  Panama  Comments Off on Reflection
Feb 112013

It has taken me a while to get around to completing my Journal – perhaps I have been putting it off because it means my adventure is over!

We spent all day Tuesday, and Wednesday morning at Hogar Trisker.  On Wednesday afternoon we went to La Jungla (the wildlife refuge) where we spent some time with the dogs with the aim of helping to socialise them and increase their chances of adoption.  We helped out at kids camp again on Thursday and returned to Hogar Trisker on Friday morning.  I then headed for home.

After having been completely daunted at the beginning of my time in Panama, by the end I was feeling very comfortable there and certainly could have stayed for longer.

My major frustration was my lack of Spanish.  I really wanted to be able to communicate with the staff at Hogar Trisker and naturally wanted to be able to interact more with the children.

The children were the highlight – they were unassuming and grateful for any time given to them.

Boquete is a beautiful place and the climate is pretty close to perfect.

Some negatives were the rubbish that seemed to be everywhere, and the terrible condition of the majority of cars and trucks on the roads, along with some fairly crazy driving.  The constant tooting annoyed me to begin with but I soon learnt the ‘language of the toot’ which could mean anything from “Get out of my way” to “You go” to “Hello” to “You look good” to “Do you want a ride?”!  The ride in the always full to brimming bus also became a pleasant, entertaining experience.

My lasting impression of Panama will be of the extremes of wealth and poverty, and I hope that as the country develops, the issues of poverty will be addressed rather than ignored.


 Posted by Jane Wright at 11:09 am  Panama  Comments Off on Sunday/Monday
Jan 282013

On Sunday afternoon we helped out at the Boquete spay-neuter clinic run by the Fundacion Amigos de Animales Boquete.  We were based in the large dog section of ‘recovery’ and basically our task was to wake the dogs while monitoring their temperature and breathing.  It was very physical work, having to shake and vigorously rub the dogs to make them want to wake up, and turning them every 10 minutes.  The clinic was run in the gym and the whole set-up was very impressive with a huge number of animals being operated on throughout the day.

Today we went back to David to help out at La Fundaciones Amigos – the residential centre for children having cancer treatment.  Our sole charge today was George, aged 3.  He loved doing his craft work so much that he refused to go to lunch and was almost falling asleep on the job.  He had no concern at my lack of Spanish – he just moved my hands around on the craft materials to tell me what he wanted me to do.

It was very hot again in David so we were very pleased to get back to Boquete, although the bus trip was very long and very hot with every possible space taken.


 Posted by Jane Wright at 1:49 pm  Panama  Comments Off on Saturday
Jan 262013

We have had a wonderful day doing ‘volunteer enrichment activities’.  This morning Oscar took us on the waterfall hike.  We probably walked for about 2 1/2 hours and saw 3 waterfalls.  The reasonably rapid rise in elevation was challenging but it was a good track and a good workout!

After lunch Oscar took us to Caldera to the hot springs.  It was great to see such a natural setting for the springs.  The water was lovely and warm but given that the day was already very warm, we appreciated the fact that the pools were just beside the beautiful Caldera River for a cool off when needed.



 Posted by Jane Wright at 1:06 pm  Panama  Comments Off on Friday
Jan 252013

This morning we attended an orientation run by Fundacion Amigos de Animales Boquete.  They run clinics a couple of times a year to spey the local cats and dogs and are holding one this Sunday.  The clinics are done completely by volunteers.  We have offered to help in the ‘recovery’ section – I hope we are up to it!

I had a wonderful leisurely afternoon on a tour of Finca Dos Jefes coffee farm.  The farm was in a beautiful spot high up in the valley and the tour was very interesting.  We got to sample light, medium and dark roast and then roasted our own batch to take home.  At the conclusion of the tour we enjoyed a Panamanian beer.


 Posted by Jane Wright at 2:10 pm  Panama  Comments Off on Thursday
Jan 242013

A local group run a kids programme here in Boquete once a week during summer break and they sponsor children from Hogar Trisker to attend.  Today 20 children from Hogar Trisker attended along with children from town, and we went along to help out.  In the morning the children were put into groups according to age and did a variety of activities – basketball, volleyball, tennis, soccer, swimming and craft.  We were all well fed at lunchtime by the local ladies (some of the boys from the orphanage kept me busy with return runs of meals – they could put it away nearly as quickly as I could deliver it), and then after lunch everyone had time to do whichever activities they wanted to.  There were games and relays to finish off.  It was a great day, enjoyed by all, and it was wonderful to see some of the orphanage children coming out of their shells.


 Posted by Jane Wright at 12:26 pm  Panama  Comments Off on Wednesday
Jan 232013

We are getting a good taste of all the volunteering options availabe in and around Boquete. This morning Oscar took us up to the wildlife rescue centre.  We cleaned out bowls and troughs in the monkey and bird enclosures and cleaned the trays under the boa constrictor cages, as well as feeding some of the animals.  There was a beautiful spider monkey who loved attention and who would reach through the fence to hold your hand and to make sure that you would stay there and stroke her, she would wrap her tail around your arm.  It was amazing the strength of her grip.  A little capuchin monkey was darting in and out of the enclosure and enjoyed climbing all over us.  The parrots liked landing on our shoulders also.  It was very cool.

We then picked Kaytee up and all headed to David.  We had a huge meal at a great Chinese restaurant in David then went to a centre that accommodates children suffering from leukemia or cancer throughout their treatment.  It was a great facility that is made available to children from throughout the country.

From there we went to another facility that has been set up recently to cater for teenage girls – some of whom have come from Hogar Trisker (the orphanage).  The director was previously director at Hogar Trisker and she set this one up because she felt the teenage girls needed a separate facility.


 Posted by Jane Wright at 11:49 am  Panama  Comments Off on Tuesday
Jan 222013

I have decided that it would be very beneficial if I could temporarily disengage my sense of smell.   There are certainly some terrible smells around town and one of the first things to hit me when we visited the orphanage today was the smell from the dormitory wing, which of course is to be expected when you have 60 children living in a confined area.  The other thing to hit me were the bars on all the windows and the barred doors with the children looking out expectantly.   We played board games with a group of girls.  They were slightly apprehensive at first but enjoying a laugh with us by the time we left.  They interacted well together and really seemed to enjoy having our company.

We took part in one of Kaytee’s yoga classes later in the afternoon so are feeling nice and relaxed.

Monday 21 January, 2013

 Posted by Jane Wright at 5:55 am  Panama  Comments Off on Monday 21 January, 2013
Jan 222013

Kaytee came to the Volunteer House in the morning and we went through the Orientation programme, discussing our motivation for volunteering, our goals, and the different volunteering options and activities available in and around Boquete.   We went with Kaytee and Oscar to a nearby Panamanian restaurant to have some of the local food for lunch.  My meal of fried chicken, rice and salad cost $2.75.

After lunch we went to the Habla Ya language school to sign up for some classes.  We then walked around town distributing flyers for an upcoming fundraising event.

The girls then introduced me to Sangria at a local restaurant.  Yum.

We are amazed at how many North Americans are living here.  We spoke to one who has just made the decision to move here.  He said that the tax benefits and very low cost of living are the attraction, along with the perfect weather of course.  So there is a real mix of people in town with the indigenous people in their brightly colored traditional costumes, the local townspeople and the North American immigrants.

Getting here

 Posted by Jane Wright at 5:42 am  Panama  Comments Off on Getting here
Jan 222013

After more than 30 hours travelling, including flights and transit times, I arrived in Panama City early Thursday morning.  As we landed I was treated to an amazing view of the canal.  I could see ships at different stages along the canal and around 100 on the coastline and in the harbour.  The city was certainly a city of extremes with the most incredible skyscrapers, the beautiful old town and large, very derelict low income housing areas.  The traffic was crazy and taxi rides were an adventure.  I took the hop-on hop-off bus tour around the city, stopping at the canal to watch a ship progress through the Miraflores locks.

On Friday I flew from Panama City to David where I was met by Oscar.  Oscar drove me to Boquete and dropped me off at the volunteer house.  I was the first volunteer to arrive so was on my own for the first night, but then Robyn arrived from Canada on Saturday and Jessica arrived from the States on Sunday.

There was a large fair (the Coffee and Flower fair) on in Boquete throughout the weekend.  This meant the town was very busy and incredibly noisy as there was music pumping all day and nearly all night, resulting in very little sleep.  We have also had issues with very little water so have had to adapt to the fact that you just have to make do.  We are getting quite adept at slowly filling buckets with water from the tap to flush the toilet with.  We are also getting used to having to put our toilet paper in the bin as the pipes can’t handle it.


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