Operation Smile spreads smiles through Chiriqui, Panama in April 2010!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 1 and 2

We're here!
The flight yesterday was uneventful and Shannon and I spent all 4 hours talking!
We (Shannon, Marc, and I) were greeted by Victor, Gabi, and Carlos who picked us up at the airport and took us to Victor's parent's restaurant to have dinner. As we stepped outside the airport I commented on how hot it was and Victor told me "Oh this is the cool weather!"
We drove through Panama City which was brilliantly lit with lights from the casinos. I saw the first prostitute I have ever seen in real life walking down the street. Then we ate a delicious dinner where I met Pam (my student sponsor), Xenia, the President of Operacion Sonrisa Panama, and Thomas, a photographer. For dinner I had cheese quesadillas, which were delicious. We then went to the hotel where we stayed the first night in Panama City. Shannon and I made fools of ourselves trying to get our suitcases upstairs. The elevators in Panama don't stop when they are closing on you, and we 4 huge suitcases, this was a problem.
Finally we got to our room and got to sleep, unfortunately for only 4 hours.

Today we flew to David Panama in the President of Panama's plane! (Airforce One of Panama!) Shannon got to sit in the cockpit with the pilots!! The flight was smooth, and I heard some funny jokes in Spanish.

Shannon and I then had to find our way to our hotel which was quite interesting. We got a little tour of David on the way.
From the hotel we went to the first day of screening which was incredible. At first the children were really shy, but some warmed up pretty quickly. We did our presentations first thing and then played with the children for hours. They loved the toys we brought! There was one girl in particular who Pam gave a red crown to match her red dress. The girl ran right to her mom to show her and then ran back and just stood there beaming. It was amazing. We ran around for hours playing catch and hopscotch and other games. The most popular activity was definitely drawing with chalk. Kids taught me words in Spanish from their drawings and they asked me how to say things in English. When I had a hard time understanding, I was surprised by how patient the kids were. They loved taking pictures with us and their parents loved to take ones of us as well.
I was surprised by how much seeing the cleft lips and palates didn't bother me, after a few minutes, you are so enthralled with the children's personalities that you don't notice. There was a tiny little girl with a cleft lip running around, so little she looke young enough that she shouldn't be able to walk. She would run away every time I tried to play with here, but finally she took a picture together. She snuggled right up under my arm!

I don't think I've ever been so sweaty in my life, but I also don't think there have been many times where I have been as happy.
We ate what the patients ate for lunch which was rice, meat and letils. It didn't taste like the rice and letils I've had at home, but it was very good.

Finally, we went to dinner with part of the team at the other hotel where some people are staying. The food was delicious! My favorite were the plantains because they were really sweet and had this delicious sauce. Afterwards we walked back to our hotel so it was nice to see a little bit of the town not from inside a bus!

Tomorrow we go to the beach for team day :)

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