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    [post_date] => 2015-01-24 01:55:38
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-01-24 08:55:38
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Hola Elizabeth and fellow Harpethians - I guess you are all inside the airport by now, hope the return journey home goes well. This morning did not give for a long goodbye, so I thought I'd write to you all instead. I just wanted to tell the group that it was a pleasure to meet each and every one of you and that I hope that the two weeks we spent together was educational, challenging and adventuresome for all. You are a really nice, open-minded group of students with a couple of really nice, open-minded teachers (Profe y el Dr.) who took it upon themselves to help create a unique learning experience for you. Now it is up to each of you to decide what to do with it, how to let it inform your lives in some way.

As funny as it was, the talk about algae and how it is used by the Kuna people was a clear example of how humans are so tightly linked to the places we live and in hundreds of ways. Whether you are in Nashville or Manhattan or Santa Librada, we all exist in a complex context of history, geology, culture, technology, religion and many other elements. Our goal was to "let you in on" one of these complex contexts (Panama) and as I think you all realized during the course (compare Arimae with Albrook Mall, for example) this is one amazingly complex place and it is no bigger than South Carolina!

So safe travels to all of you, I hope your hojaldra withdrawal isn't too rough! [post_title] => A Letter to the Harpethians [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => letter-harpethians [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-01-29 17:11:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-30 00:11:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=114426 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 28 [name] => Panama Harpeth Hall [slug] => panama-harpeth-hall-spring-2015 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 28 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 237 [count] => 26 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6.1 [cat_ID] => 28 [category_count] => 26 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Panama Harpeth Hall [category_nicename] => panama-harpeth-hall-spring-2015 [category_parent] => 237 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2015/panama-harpeth-hall-spring-2015/ ) ) [category_links] => Panama Harpeth Hall )
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A Letter to the Harpethians

Stephen Taranto,Panama Harpeth Hall

Description

Hola Elizabeth and fellow Harpethians – I guess you are all inside the airport by now, hope the return journey home goes well. This morning did not give for a long goodbye, so I thought I’d write to you all instead. I just wanted to tell the group that it was a pleasure to meet […]

Posted On

01/24/15

Author

Stephen Taranto

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    [post_date] => 2015-01-23 06:13:17
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-01-23 13:13:17
    [post_content] => We bid farewell to our now good friends from Harpeth Hall this morning, after two weeks full of exploration, challenge, sweat, learning, mud, wonder, birds, and laughter. After a final afternoon exploring Casco Viejo in Panama City and a great meal at the Seafood Market, we returned to Cuidad Del Saber for our final ceremony, consisting of some exquisitely articulated skits, barrels of laughter, and the lighting of a skylantern, which lofted high and carried quickly out to the Pacific ocean.

Steven and I were sad to say goodbye to the group and we already feeling the empty nest, but we are sure family and friends will be eager to have them home this evening. Many thanks to all who made this journey possible for the students and teachers--it was a true pleasure to have them as travel companions.

All the best from Panama,

Michael
    [post_title] => Farewell from the Isthmus
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Panama Harpeth Hall

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Farewell from the Isthmus

Michael Woodard,Panama Harpeth Hall

Description

We bid farewell to our now good friends from Harpeth Hall this morning, after two weeks full of exploration, challenge, sweat, learning, mud, wonder, birds, and laughter. After a final afternoon exploring Casco Viejo in Panama City and a great meal at the Seafood Market, we returned to Cuidad Del Saber for our final ceremony, […]

Posted On

01/23/15

Author

Michael Woodard

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    [post_date] => 2015-01-22 21:55:05
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-01-23 04:55:05
    [post_content] => This morning, we were greeted by the crashing waves of the Caribbean Ocean as we went down the stairs of the Sunset Cabins for breakfast. Our typical Panamanian breakfast of fried hockey-puck shaped polenta (what they call tortillas) was Americanized with some glossy craft singles cheese slices on top. After our orange meal, we went to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). We arrived before our guide, so one of the scientists there gave us an impromptu PowerPoint presentation on the Guna Yala's (an indigenous group) use of algae to heal ailments. The Smithsonian scientist recorded which algaes were used for which problems, and then she experimented with the plants at STRI. The Guna seemed to have an algae for everything, including infidelity, "Satan in the body" (negative mood), and "Satan in the house" (familial problems). Not to mention, the plants cure several skin disease she termed as "black chicken, white chicken, and yellow chicken." Chicken has been recurring motif of this trip, including rooster wake up calls.

Anyways, back to the STRI. We held starfish, patted sea cucumbers, and pet sociable sea turtles. Then we learned about the 4 types of mangrove trees they have on the research site (red, white, black, and button). We got to see some of the corral reef, too!
After the Smithsonian, we traveled for the rest of the day to El Valle de Anton, which is a volcano that collapsed inward. Here in El Valle, we appear to be in the middle of a bowl surrounded by mountains of cloud forests. The wind almost blows us off our feet here, but we still managed to play a quick game of ultimate Frisbee before we walked to a dinner restaurant.
We closed the night with a guitar circle that was disbanded by staggering winds.
Happy early Birthday Mom (and Laurel's Dad!) I love you so much, and I am so grateful that you always push me to go on adventures like these ones. This trip never ceases to surprise me.
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Smithsonian and Travel

Kate Goldenring,Panama Harpeth Hall

Description

This morning, we were greeted by the crashing waves of the Caribbean Ocean as we went down the stairs of the Sunset Cabins for breakfast. Our typical Panamanian breakfast of fried hockey-puck shaped polenta (what they call tortillas) was Americanized with some glossy craft singles cheese slices on top. After our orange meal, we went […]

Posted On

01/22/15

Author

Kate Goldenring

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    [post_date] => 2015-01-22 17:04:37
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-01-23 00:04:37
    [post_content] => We started off the morning bright and early around 7am. We woke up to the news that two members of our squad had fallen ill and wouldn’t be hiking the Camino Real with us today, but rather taking the canoe that held our luggage straight to the community we’d be spending the night in, Santa Librada.

After packing up our tents and belongings, we were treated to a hearty breakfast of fried bread, scrambled eggs, white bread slices, peanut butter, and raspberry marmalade. It was really hard for us to eat, however, having essentially eaten two separate dinners the night before .

Because it was so early in the morning and we’d gone to bed a tad late, we were sleep deprived and more than a bit sluggish. Luckily, the community members were quite helpful and helped us out whenever they could. Although we’d only known them for a day, saying goodbye wasn’t easy.

Our hike began with a short, relaxing canoe ride. Things began to go downhill (literally) when the walking part of the hike began and the rain chose that moment to manifest itself on us. For some reason, it simply didn’t occur to us that while hiking through the rainforest we might actually encounter rain…

So, during the 6-7 hr hike, we alternated between being amused , miserable, excited, and cold. The temperature, however, wasn’t too hot, which was a bonus. Yet, there was a lot of sliding and slipping in the wet mud and rocky terrain. I personally may have tripped in a few poop patties once or twice…. Due to the nature of the land, we named the muddy mixture Juicy Slosh and it wasn’t uncommon to suctioning noises from behind you that meant someone was attempting to pry their feet out of the resilient earth.

We walked through rivers, climbed many hills, ate lemons from trees, and drank coconut milk straight from the coconut.

A while later, we dragged our wet and tired bodies into the Latino community of Santa LIbrada. The children of the community were quiet, peaceful people, though energetic. We all slept in tents under a wooden shelter with a roof and no walls. A pleasant surprise was discovering that the toilets were clean, had seat covers, and looked much like ours back home.

Dinner consisted of rice, chicken, and salad,  a dish we’ve become very familiar with. After dinner and a quick meeting recapping our day, we returned to our shelter and retired for the night. We have a 5:30am wake up call tomorrow as we embark on the last leg of our hike (fingers crossed for less accidents and less encounters with the Juicy Slosh…)
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Panama Harpeth Hall

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On to Santa Librada…

Lois Efionayi,Panama Harpeth Hall

Description

We started off the morning bright and early around 7am. We woke up to the news that two members of our squad had fallen ill and wouldn’t be hiking the Camino Real with us today, but rather taking the canoe that held our luggage straight to the community we’d be spending the night in, Santa […]

Posted On

01/22/15

Author

Lois Efionayi

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    [post_date] => 2015-01-22 17:03:04
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-01-23 00:03:04
    [post_content] => Today began with an earlier wakeup call than normal. Beginning the day at 5:30 a.m. after a late night, we dragged ourselves out of our tents to put on our sopping wet hiking boots, due to the previous rainfall yesterday. I quickly realized that today was the first day of the trip where I had absolutely not one piece of clean clothing, so I proceeded to put on wet, filthy clothing along with the rest of the girls.

We walked (slid) down to the main building to have our breakfast for the long day that we had ahead of us. We quickly ate breakfast and then departed with our new guide named Edwin. The first leg of the hike had several ditches and creeks that we had to cross. You could say that our group isn’t exactly the most graceful group of ladies, so naturally there were several slips and falls in the first hour alone.

I was so proud of myself because I had not fallen once during the trip. Obviously I had become too cocky because walking down a small hill to cross a creek, I slid on a rock and completely busted my butt. Thankfully this wasn’t too painful and it turned out to the only major fall that I had. Once we crossed the creek we came upon horses (which I got very excited about), and then our guides showed us some lemon and orange trees. Using their machetes, they cut down some branches and gave us some oranges and we had a quick snack break.

Throughout the trip, our guide Christian pointed out the cobblestones that were originally placed by the Spaniards. He then told us that our destination was actually a railroad that had been put through the jungle. The part of the Camino real that we were hiking in was the only primary forest that we have been able to visit during this trip, essentially because they aren’t easy to come upon anymore.

After crossing many rivers and traversing over some tough and even scary terrain, we arrived at the railroad. We followed the rails for a little bit and came upon a tree that’s roots had completely lifted a part of the railing a couple feet off the ground. This was truly incredible to see and showed us the true power of the forest. Walking back out towards the trail, we saw our first snake which turned out to be extremely venomous, but it wasn’t aggressive so we just quickly walked past it.

We walked back the exact same way that we came and stopped at a small hut up on a huge hill for lunch. Some locals served us spaghetti and chicken and then we were on our way back to the community. It had rained quite a bit on our way to the railroad, so the trail back was extremely muddy.

A couple hours later we arrived back at the community and were quite relieved because we were absolutely exhausted. A couple of us went down to the river and washed some clothes and bathed and then went to dinner. The dinner was good as usual. We talked about the schedule for tomorrow and we are very excited to be going to a new destination!
    [post_title] => Final Day of Camino Real Trek
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Panama Harpeth Hall

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Final Day of Camino Real Trek

Reagan Abernathy,Panama Harpeth Hall

Description

Today began with an earlier wakeup call than normal. Beginning the day at 5:30 a.m. after a late night, we dragged ourselves out of our tents to put on our sopping wet hiking boots, due to the previous rainfall yesterday. I quickly realized that today was the first day of the trip where I had […]

Posted On

01/22/15

Author

Reagan Abernathy

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    [post_date] => 2015-01-22 17:02:35
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    [post_content] => Today I woke up puffy eyed and a little disoriented, which was probably due to the amount of hiking we've done over the last couple days. This morning we packed up our things, ate breakfast, and began to trek through the juicy slosh (mud) for the last time. Since the ground has been completely covered in mud for the last few days my hiking boots were a little bit too muddy to function. Therefore I decided to wear my tennis shoes. This was a bad decision. The ground was just as muddy as it had been the last few days and our tennis shoes were completely covered in mud, but nevertheless we pushed through and hiked to the spot that would take us out of santa librada. After a little while of hiking keely and I found ourselves way further ahead of the people behind us, but way behind the people in front of us. When we found ourselves at a fork in the road we decided to use some of the calling techniques we learned about before coming on the trip. The call is called Saloma and it is traditionally used by men working in the fields to find each other. Naturally we decided doing this call (that sounds suspiciously like a dog bark) would help us find our fellow hikers. As we began to yelp we started to hear a loud response in the distance. We got excited thinking we found the group, until we realized the yelping was coming from a nearby talkative donkey. This was hilarious yet slightly disappointing. We eventually found the group and continued on to the end of the hike. As we began to near the end of the hike out of santa librada, a sloth was spotted. It was just chilling on top of one of the tallest trees, scratching his head with his little arms. I had been waiting the entire trip to see a sloth so it was basically the best moment of my day. After we finished the last stretch of hiking we squeezed into a four-wheel-drive taxi bus and began to drive to Portobelo. We arrived to the site of beautiful blue ocean and a cute yellow hotel that was not exactly ready for us as they ran on Panamanian time. After unpacking our bags we jumped into the clear Caribbean waters. The saltiness in the water helped to clean most scratches or bruises we develop from the hike however the coral seem to always know when to replace the scratches once they cleared the first ones out. After swimming we ate lunch at an Oceanside restaurant then went into downtown Portobelo for percussion class. This class consisted of us banging Congos on different beats and listening to Lizzie sing Jack Johnson. When we left the class we had some time to explore the town and go to the Spanish Fort overlooking the harbor. Watching the sunset there was one of the highlights of the trip and really helped calm me down after a hectic day. We ate dinner at a small restaurant with great views, then headed back to sunset cabins.The day ended with Steven bringing us our clean clothes that he had taken to his house to wash. Steven is an angel.
    [post_title] => January 19th 2015
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Panama Harpeth Hall

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January 19th 2015

Ally Nawrocki,Panama Harpeth Hall

Description

Today I woke up puffy eyed and a little disoriented, which was probably due to the amount of hiking we’ve done over the last couple days. This morning we packed up our things, ate breakfast, and began to trek through the juicy slosh (mud) for the last time. Since the ground has been completely covered […]

Posted On

01/22/15

Author

Ally Nawrocki

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    [post_date] => 2015-01-20 09:39:56
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Here are a couple photos from our time in Portobelo yesterday, the old Spanish port on the Caribbean side of Panama. The first photo is from a percussion class at La Casa del Congo, a foundation supporting the preservation of local culture and the second is a group shot among the ruins of the old fort in the town. Now on to El Valle de Anton to explore the cloud forest and start wrapping things up! Michael [post_title] => Photos [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => photos-18 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-01-29 17:23:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-30 00:23:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=114306 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 28 [name] => Panama Harpeth Hall [slug] => panama-harpeth-hall-spring-2015 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 28 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 237 [count] => 26 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 6.1 [cat_ID] => 28 [category_count] => 26 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Panama Harpeth Hall [category_nicename] => panama-harpeth-hall-spring-2015 [category_parent] => 237 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2015/panama-harpeth-hall-spring-2015/ ) ) [category_links] => Panama Harpeth Hall )
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Photos

Michael Woodard ,Panama Harpeth Hall

Description

Here are a couple photos from our time in Portobelo yesterday, the old Spanish port on the Caribbean side of Panama. The first photo is from a percussion class at La Casa del Congo, a foundation supporting the preservation of local culture and the second is a group shot among the ruins of the old […]

Posted On

01/20/15

Author

Michael Woodard

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Portobelo

Gary Schott,Panama Harpeth Hall

Description

Posted On

01/20/15

Author

Gary Schott

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    [post_content] => While the group has not been able to post updates as they have limited connectivity over the past two days, they have been checking in via cell phone to provide updates.

Yesterday afternoon they began their 3-day hike from the Pacific to the Atlantic ocean, following in the footsteps of some of the most famed adventurers to first set foot in the Americas.

For the next two nights they will be guests in remote forest communities, hiking through dense tropical forests and experiencing the challenges and beauty of life in the tropical wilderness.

We look forward to hearing from our intrepid travelers upon arrival to Portobelo on Monday.

Thank you all for following along on their epic journey.

Dragons Admin
    [post_title] => El Camino Real
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El Camino Real

Simon Hart,Panama Harpeth Hall

Description

While the group has not been able to post updates as they have limited connectivity over the past two days, they have been checking in via cell phone to provide updates. Yesterday afternoon they began their 3-day hike from the Pacific to the Atlantic ocean, following in the footsteps of some of the most famed […]

Posted On

01/17/15

Author

Simon Hart

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    [post_content] => Today was the most adventurous day so far and a general favorite among the group. It started early at Arimae, where we were again woken up by a chorus of roosters (which began their routine at 2am). We left with everything packed (and slightly damp) at 7:50am. Saying goodbye was actually much more difficult than expected—the women who’d been cooking for us made us a special breakfast of ojaldras (fried bred) and a stew. We said goodbye to them and their niños with so many hugs. They are truly such a beautiful community and it was amazing to see how well they’ve preserved the indigenous culture and spirit. They were so welcoming to us, and we are all so grateful to have spent a little bit of time living as they do. Sidenote: as we were getting ready to leave the vendor drove by yelling “PESCA’O, PESCA’O” trying to sell fish (the Spanish word for fish is “pescado,” but for some reason they omit the D when they say it in Panama). I wish I could communicate how funny his voice was on this log, but he became such a celebrity in our group and we were lucky to hear him drive by one last time.
We took a 4-hour bus ride eastward, where we stopped to get some lunch at a Caribbean restaurant (with air conditioning and flush toilets—score!). We also stopped to get snacks for the trek, including Maria cookies and peanut butter. Such a good move. We arrived at the head of the Camino Real (“Royal Road”), where we met with Christian, our trek leader from Austria. We had to take a boat in order to get to the real start of it, which was complete with a beautiful view of the mountains and a lot of sun. We began hiking through the jungle and were able to see some of the original cobblestones used by traders from hundreds of years ago. Christian is one of the people who helped to recover the Camino Real so he knew lots of information about it.
After about 2 hours of hiking we ended up at another boat that we took across the way to Quebrada Ancha, a small Latino village. We were first greeted by 5 boys and 5 girls all in traditional Panamanian clothing and a huge group of waving, smiling villagers. It was amazing. We felt so welcomed and were led up the hill and given a meal of chicken soup and rice. The children were so, so outgoing and confident with their Spanish, so it was easier for us to communicate with them. As opposed to the indigenous children, Spanish is their first language, so they helped me out with my broken Spanish. There were also 3 little puppies running around with I particularly enjoyed. We played a really awesome soccer game with some of the kids and teens, and ate a dinner of rice, lentils, and fish soon after.
After dinner the absolute best part of the day (and the trip) happened. The village did a cultural presentation complete with dancing from the kids and a small skit by them, too. They danced some traditional Panamanian dances and by the end of it we were all just in awe of their cuteness and their poise. They also presented a skit about the last tree in the rainforest. It was sad and I will admit that a small tear formed in my eye by the end. So cute. After they performed, the little boys grabbed our hands and invited us up to do the last dance. We ran around in the circle looking like complete klutzes, but we all laughed and smiled and had the best time. They then asked US to perform something which, needless to say, we were not mentally prepared to do. We all went up there, though, and sang “Lean on Me,” and “Riptide” with a drum they handed to me. It wasn’t great but again, it was the idea that mattered and they loved it. We went to bed soon afterwards to the sound of howling dogs and a lot of crickets. It was such an amazing day.
    [post_title] => Saludos from Panama!
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Panama Harpeth Hall

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Saludos from Panama!

Lizzy LeBleu,Panama Harpeth Hall

Description

Today was the most adventurous day so far and a general favorite among the group. It started early at Arimae, where we were again woken up by a chorus of roosters (which began their routine at 2am). We left with everything packed (and slightly damp) at 7:50am. Saying goodbye was actually much more difficult than […]

Posted On

01/17/15

Author

Lizzy LeBleu

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