Monday, January 30, 2012

"Typical" Weekend

Because it was more relaxing with absolutely no plans, I would say that this was a pretty typical summer weekend here in Panama, with a little AIESEC pizazz mixed in. Also, since I want to take advantage as much as possible while I´m here, I think I could argue that my weekends pretty much start on Thursdays.

Thursday after work, my friend Juan Carlos (our tour guide last year for my Fisher class trip with the most amazing group ever) picked me up and we went to get a couple drinks and grab some food before his evening classes at the university. He took me to a more local hang out close to the canal and right next to the Panama Canal Railway, the alternative and more expensive mode of transport to the canal. It was a neat little bar and restaurant with a nice patio right out next to the tracks. Despite the location, it was not loud since the trains were near the end of the line there and moving slowly. JC and I caught up on everything; work, friends, the Fisher groups, travel, plans, love life... everything! We also enjoyed a few Panama beers as the sun went down. We talked about going on a couple excursions of which fishing and seeing his hometown I am most excited about. I have to start thinking that I don´t have that long here! Yikes! Anyway, he dropped me off on his way to class and I cannot wait to hang out again!

After getting dropped off that evening, I ran upstairs to change and meet a everyone down on the, Cinta Costera right by the water, for a run. I forgot that our new roommate was supposed to arrive and I ran into her as I was on my way to change. We talked super briefly, which I feel kinda bad about for being rude and rushed, but promised to catch up later. I ran all the way down to the Cinta and ended up crossing paths with Carlos. I love running down there because it is such a well maintained area and perfect for evening and night exercise. When the rest of our group arrived, we were 6 in all, not bad for motivation. While we did get a good workout in, we spent a lot of time chatting... or gossiping... about our experience so far, the good and the bad. I am super thankful that I have other interns close by and as good friends that we can share our experience. As much as I do not like complaining, I think everything we talk about is good to bring up, as long as problems get communicated to the hosting entity. It also helps us be more accepting of the little things. What I hope we all get out of our little vent fests is the opportunity to look at ourselves and try to be more accepting and flexible before blwoing things out of proportion. I think that is a huge part of the AIESEC learning experience when going abroad; considering what is wrong, identifying who can best handle it, and taking the appropriate action, whether than be chaning yourself or soliciting help from someone else. Anyway, Thursday ended with Carlos and I hanging out a big with Michaela then crashing for Friday.

Friday was the "big day" of my presentation of the material I have be going over a revising from Heineken to launch the new Performance Management System. I spent the day going over the slides, fixing my slide guide, and wrapping up the PM guide as a handout. I have to say in retrospect, that despite my serious efforts, they were not the best. They were the best they could have been at that point in time, though and now I have better ideas on how to make the presentation of the material more accessable and easier to understand. I am thankful that this first presentation was to the HR department so we can work through the material together and make it as accessable as possible for the first launch. I am now much happier with my output after their feedback and my latest revisions. I think its close to ready :)

Friday I stayed after work a bit to chat with my mom, who arrives Tuesday for a short visit. After, I went straight to Johana´s to skype with Mike then leave for the UTP AIESEC meeting and the last meeting of the current EB. I don´t know if I didn´t make it clear enough that I wanted to leave at 6 to make the meeting at 6:30 but when I was ready to leave Johana got in the shower. Then got ready. Then I had to say at 6:20.. look, I´m leaving now.. like walking out the door, if you´re coming with me, its going to be now. and I had to hurry her along to which she said you know no one gets there on time anyway. Two things went through my head, one that was solid american culture, and the other was a question I had, which was later confirmed. The first: they and you might not get there on time but I do. Second: this is an AIESEC meeting, not going out for drinks at the bar, you get there on time. Either way it was a long way from her apartment and we arrived about 45 minutes late after taking the bus, walking, then getting picked up and driven to the house. Lauren= frustered... deep breath... ok we´re here.

everyone at the LC meeting!

Presenting ideas for social problems
I really wish we would have been there for the whole thing because it was interesting to see how they do their meetings. First of all, they do not ahve them very often, probably once a month or so. This meeting was also on a friday, on the patio and in the parking area of one of the member´s private home. It lasted several hours and had some neat components. The Local Learning Team (or something close to that name) designed the entire agenda and executed the presentations and activities. We got up and did interactive fun ones, discussed social problems and how to solve then through exchange, and learned about social businesses. Mauricio also gave an AWESOME presentation about Bolivia and now pretty much everyone wants to go there, including me, to see the entire country. It looks amazing, and the food was such a tease! Here are some of the reason I want to see Bolivia...

Salar de Uyuni, have to see it once in my lifetime
Camino de la Muerte.. have to try it once right? Nothing more exhilirating than a 500m drop

Lake Titicaca
yah, thats a highway. I hear some people do it on bike... silly tourists... that would totally be me!
At the end they had a little review of the year and the accomplishments of that EB, complete with celebration and cake. We mingled and then dispursed. All in all a great meeting and some neat ideas for LCs back home.
Happy 3rd birthday UTP, congrats on becoming full members!

Most of the Group!
After the meeting we all rushed home to get ready to go out. The destination was a place named Relic in the old part of Panama. I love that bar because it is connected to a hostel so there is always a bunch of travelers around, as well as locals, and it is half inside and half outside. The inside part is like a grotto, completely covered in stone so its cool and kinda feels underground. The outside part is also surrounded by stone walls and the surrounding older buildings with trees and plants and you can look up and see a perfect night sky. Yes, I love relic. Plus, the music was awesome and we danced the night away. When the bar closed, Carlos, Mauricio and I walked around Casco Viejo a bit because it was Carlos´ first time. It is just as wonderful during the night, maybe even better, because it is so peaceful, everything is lit up, and you can hear the ocean lapping against the old city walls. We enjoyed the quiet of the night, then hopped in a taxi and went back to finish the bottle of Peruvian Pizco, which for Carlos and I was a mistake after having beer, gin, rum AND tequila at the bar. Whoops. The 3 of us were up til 5:30 talking about everything, most of which I remember, then crashed.

Bruno and Luis, Brazil and Peru
Saturday was an incredibly lazy day. I think I finally got out of bed at about 12:30 and was still tired most of the day. Carlos and I had a few people over and we took advantage of the pool we have at our building. It was a bit chilly but refreshing while the sun was on our terrace. I took a nice long nap next to it and woke up not being able to feel my hand because I slept on my bracelet. Yay nice deep sleep. That evening we had a group over to pregame and planned to head over to the bar part of one of the casinos next to our apartment. We spent probably 5 hours playing Kings, which everyone loved. Love enough to play about 6 rounds of it since different people kept arriving and wanting to play. We found out a lot about each other and I like some of the new rules we came up with for King, like every time the girls drink the guys have to give us massages. Win! At about midnight we headed over to the casino where I was under the impression they had salsa dancing every night. Unfortunately Saturday they turn it into a club with a cover so we decided to buy another bottle from the grocery store and head back to the apartment. Salsa dancing on Thursday instead! The rest of the evening felt a little slow because the group was taking forever to make decisions (typical panamanian?) and I was getting tired from Friday´s festivities. Either way we got through a few more rounds of never have I ever (Yo nunca in Spanish) and laughed a ton. We finally had to push people out more or less at 3 so I could sleep.

Sunday I woke up and again had no motivation to do anything. Good thing I didnt have to make any plans because when I woke up Carlos told me our Guatemalans were coming to meet us to go to Luis (peru) and Bruno´s (brazil) pool on the East Coast. Within about 20 minutes I was up, ready and in a taxi over to their pool. Let me tell you, our apartment and pool has nothing compared to theirs. They are interning with Procter and Gamble, which is over by where they live and little far from the heart of the city, but it is all new money over there and just gorgeous. I´m not complaining, our place is awesome and in a great, easy to reach area, but DAMN. Pool overlook the bay, gym, gorgeous furnished apartment for 3. They have it good. We were a large group hanging out at the pool and spent a good amount of time playing with my underwater camera. I´m including the proof of that. We discussed plans to go to the Caribbean soon so we can play in the clear water over there. Hopefully by next weekend I´ll have pictures of that.

stolen camera but beautiful picture!
We decided to leave before dark so we could get ready for the rest of the week and eat finally. Plus I wanted to get online to chat with my mama who gets here on TUESDAY! So Mauricio and I ventured out and ended up eating KFC (haha I know, so typical here... and yet it kinda is because they eat SO MUCH chicken!) then wandered over to Ernesto´s to hang out for a bit and watched a hilarious Dominican (i think?) movie. Then went back to my apartment, hung out with Carlos and Michaela who had spent the whole weekend with her boyfriend at a horse show and did some final weekend bonding and decompressing.

I think my favorite parts of the weekend were the times when I was dancing, laughing, or just sitting with such a diverse group and hearing about their experiences and learning. Over the last few days I have spent time with people from Panama (obvi), Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico (hope i didn´t forget any!). That made my weekend totally AIESEC and puts a huge smile on my face. Pretty much the perfect weekend to decompress a bit and get ready for a hectic week. Work is going very well and I´m diving into the meat of my Recruiment and Selection Project now. Plus over the next couple weekend I plan on traveling and seeing more. My mom arrives tomorrow and will be here until Friday! Whoopieee

Me with my Rommie!
"Miss" Guatemala as we call her
Pool on the east coast!

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