Today’s Gospel will be a reading from the Letters of Rabbi to the Ministers

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This was too large to put in the comment space following The Defense Report.  It’s an email from josh that I thought was received by all, but apparently there are still those who are unaware of his whereabouts.  "It is the Jew.  They have shifted their shapes.  Quick!  Throw money at them!"  -Borat

Hola All,

For those of you I have been out of contact with for a while, I have just moved to an island called Bocas del Toro off the Caribbean coast of Panama. I just wanted to see what everyone was up to and let you all know I´m alive.

Things here in Bocas are going very well.  The school has met my highest expectations and I am real happy with my progress so far.  I have class for four hours each day and study on my own around two to three hours at my house.  My vocabulary is increasing quickly but my speaking skills could use a lot of improvement.  It gets frustrating sometimes but I maintain a positive attitude.

My home stay is working out really smoothly as well.  I´m am so glad I opted for living with a local family instead of staying in the school dorm.  The dorm has nice amenities but the student population there is pretty interested in partying and I often find the dorm students speaking predominantly English amongst themselves when outside of class.

The water here is amazing, the temperature is perfect (around 78 degrees Fahrenheit) and the waves have great form.  There has been a bit of a lull in swell here over the last two weeks but the smaller waves have given me the opportunity to get used to surfing over the sharp reef, so when the bigger swells come I will be comfortable.

The local population in Bocas is pretty friendly, and I´m getting to know quite a few people around town.  The tourist population is huge here and you can hear all sorts of languages as you walk down the street.  There are lots of Brazilians, Dutch, Canadians, Swiss, and Americans.  It feels like I am here at a very dynamic time for Bocas; tourism completely fuels the economy and because of this the cost of living has gone up considerably in comparison to the average local person´s income.  The minimum wage is only $1.30 an hour and most restaurants charge around $7.00 for lunch, the markets are expensive as well so buying meet or fresh produce to prepare at home can be costly on a tight budget. You would think there would be a special market or part of town where the locals could shop for lower rates, but there isn´t, I shop side by side with all my local neighbors. Local people are definitely poor by American standards, but there are no beggars in the streets and crime is almost non existent.  Everyone leaves their doors unlocked and you feel safe everywhere you go.  Unfortunately I expect that in the next five years this will change as more and more people find out about this place and more and more land is bought up by gringos.  As the variance in socioeconomic level of population grows and high class resorts begin to spring up, I expect the local population will become more aware of their relative poverty and discontent is bound to result.  In five years I bet this island will be completely different, so I´m really gland I could be here wile its so cool.   

As for my personal finances, I frequent the two favorite local restaurants (Don Chico and Restorante Chitre) for lunch and have been living off coconut rice, beans, chicken, and occasionally pork stew. Its simple food but I like it and it is $2.00 a plate.  I only go out at night on Fridays after the weekly Panamanian cooking class at school, so I don´t spend much money partying.  My biggest expense is paying for water taxis, which I have to catch to get to the different surf breaks around the island.  As my Spanish improves over the next two weeks, I plan to start looking for work.

I hope to get my deep water diving certification in the next month as well. One of the teachers at my school is married to the owner of the best local dive program and she offered to train me and give me free dives if I would become their sales rep to all the hostels.  I went to their dive center on Bastimentos island (only a 5 min boat ride away) to discuss her offer yesterday and was almost malled by two guard dogs in the process. Bastimentos is alot less developed than Bocas, there are no roads and it is covered in tropical jungle; as I was making my way to where I thought the dive place was I happened on to the property of a crazy American expat from Cincinnati, who came out of his house when he heard his dogs go nuts in reaction to my presents. He freaked out and screamed at me to get the fuck off his property,  then he abruptly changed his tone, inquired about purchasing pot from me, and then tried to sell me a some beach front land on the island.  The whole time he was wielding a big wooden paddle he used to jab at the angry dogs.  Thankfully I got out of there unscathed. As for the sales rep job, I´m thinking about it but I don´t know if I want to be running around trying to amp travelers up on buying dive packages.

Well hope all is well, my Panamanian cell number is 645 332 96.

Hope to here from you soon.
Josh

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mandrew
    Feb 20, 2007 @ 14:05:49

    That funny you sent out was funny. I sent it around the office and everyone got a kick out of it.

  2. athletics
    Feb 20, 2007 @ 13:38:27

    Josh sent the email using this account (strauss.joshua@gmail.com) so I assume that he checks it every time the internet satellite is aligned over Panama. This is where Bunch’s IFS gmail creation should be taken advantage of. I will send Josh all of our IFS gmail emails so that he can correspond with all of us. Also, I sent a funny to all of you today via our gmail so check it out.

  3. mandrew
    Feb 20, 2007 @ 12:49:32

    Very informative email, does strauss check his ifs email account? I’m assuming not because I’ve sent him a few emails and he hasn’t responded. Do you have an email he checks?