Photos from Service Projects 2017-2018
This morning we took a very early flight out of Bradley and made our way down to Panama. At the airport we met up with our tour director Jonathan and our driver Danny. They will be with us for the time we are here. Jonathan took us out to a wonderful dinner and we got to have a little fun with some statues and see some left over Christmas decorations.
Today we took a walk along the causeway which connects Panama to nearby islands. The causeway was built with dirt dug up when they were constructing the Panama Canal. We then traveled to the Bio Museo where we learned about the plants and animals that are in Panama. We ate lunch above a local fish market before heading into the "Old City" and taking a walking tour and seeing the remnants of the old buildings and also going into several of the old churches.
Later in the evening we met up with our local guide Jaime and we entered the facility which operates the Panama Canal. We were at the Cocoli Locks on the Pacific side. We went up to the tower and watched from the deck as a tanker ship went through. This was followed by dinner where some dancers showed us 3 different Panamanian dances.
This morning we took a little bus ride to the Chagres River. Then by motor powered canoe, we went up river to the home of the Embera Tribe. The Embera showed us a few of their dances, some of us had a chance to dance with them. We ate lunch in the village, and the Chief then took us into their museum and explained some of their history. Our young people enjoyed some play time with the kids, we did a little shopping, and Brett got a haircut. We returned to the hotel for a bit before heading to the Church of Saint Carmen for Mass followed by dinner at a restaurant.
This will be our final full day of touring Panama since World Youth Day week begins tomorrow. It began with our longest bus ride to the Caribbean coast. We went out on a boat to an island where we were able to go snorkeling. We snorkeled for an hour or so before moving to another island where we went kayaking. After a quick boat ride back we at lunch, then headed to the ruins of San Lorenzo. We walked around the ruins for a while before heading back to the hotel, we made it a karaoke bus ride back and sang.
We took a small break at the hotel before heading out to dinner at an Italian Restaurant.
With WYD 2019 hours away from beginning, we took a morning tour on a lake near Monkey Island. We were able to see several species of monkeys, a 3 toed sloth, a river turtle, many different birds, and we even saw a juvenile American crocodile. After docking our tour director asked if we wanted to go to the nature preserve since we had some time. Of course we did! We were able to see many more animals including pumas, a jaguar, monkeys, king vulture, macaws, and a Harpy eagle, Panama's national bird.
At the hotel we walked around to find lunch and rested for a bit before making our way by metro to our site for the opening ceremony. We saw many groups from all over the place and began our traditional signing of the map and group photo taking. What a night!
Today was the first day of catechesis. We are assigned a church location, but there are several hundred people there, all who speak English. Bishop Edward Burns was our speaker and presider today. His talk was about vocations.
We then had our final tour aspect at the Metropolitan Park. I thought it was going to be like Central Park in NY, but this was more of a nature hike with cool animals. More monkeys, a two toed sloth, turtles, Jesus Christ lizards, more birds, and a cool rodent called an agouti. We ended our day with some fantastic hispanic food and an early turn in. We see Pope Francis tomorrow!
While we are away for World Youth Day, there will be no events held for high school youth.
Youth events will resume in February.