Panama Trip 2018

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Panama Trip 2018

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Over February break, Alden High School sent 25 students and 4 chaperones to experience the trip of a lifetime in Panama. The group embarked on a 5 hour flight to the hot and sunny country. We were greeted by Raul, our lively and trustworthy bus driver. He navigated through the very crowded streets of Panama, taking us from adventure to adventure. Our very passionate tour guide, Abdiel, kept us not only informed, but laughing, for the duration of the trip. He knew all of the coolest spots, the best restaurants, and the most interesting facts. Together, Abdiel and Raul kept us extremely busy throughout the week.

Our week started with a boat tour on Gatun Lake. Here we saw and heard the loud cries of Howler Monkeys. We also got an up-close and personal encounter with a White Faced Capuchin Monkey. I’d have to say our favorite Panamanian animal sight was the 3 toed sloth. Raul spotted it lounging in a tree and let us stop on the side of the road to take pictures. Besides the diverse animal life thriving in Panama, there is also a very diverse plant life. In just 1 hector (2.5 acres) there are more than 300 different species of trees. Panama prides itself on its plentiful biodiversity. Along with very strict no hunting laws,  35% of Panama is protected by national parks.

Even though we were tourists, the locals made us feel at home. While visiting the small village of El Valle, we met a group of little boys. These boys told us the story of the rocks along the hiking trail. They loved having their picture taken and loved the girls in our group. Despite the language barrier, these kids shared so much laughter and joy with us. After meeting these kids, we went into the local market to see a traditional folkloric dance. The dancers pulled up some of our group members and dressed us in beautiful, colorful, flowing skirts called “polleras”. A woman sat us down and braided our hair and then we hopped into the dance. Dancing groups, such as the one we saw, are usually made up of many family members. They use music to unite their family and to grow and strengthen their bonds. After joining them in dance, we shopped around at the market. It was filled with bright colors, fresh fruits, and handmade jewelry. I can honestly say that I will never forget that day or the joy that was spread.

Panama gave me so much more than pictures and souvenirs. It gave me memories, friendships, and culture that I will keep with me forever. I understand the challenges in traveling abroad, but I strongly urge everyone to at least look into it. I promise you that you will not regret it!

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