It is amazing that our students have already been in Panama for over a week. Our time in Panama City was a whirlwind. In just 36 hours, we packed in a visit to the Biomuseo, a Panamanian natural history museum, lunch at the beach, a tour and dinner in the neighborhood of Casco Viejo, a guest lecture from a Panamanian environmental lawyer and last, but not least, ships passing through the Panama Canal. By the time we got to the Center in Bocas, everyone was ready for a relaxing session by the pool.
Our students have already seen myriad animals between our first snorkel and our first forest walk. The ocean brought us moon jellies, brittle stars, sea cucumbers, cowfish and elkhorn coral. The forest brought us agoutis, hawks, the mating displays of Oropendula birds, leaf cutter ants, and howler monkeys. Not to mention maybe the most important members of our group; Professor Webster, June Bug and Vecino Roger, our resident dogs. They have been quite happy to have so many students willing to play fetch with them all day.
Everyone is settling in to the Center well. It is hard not to love having a classroom over the water, a pool on your doorstep and an ocean view. With two days of classes under their belts, the students are buckling down to work on their field journals, Spanish classes and dichotomous keys. Things are busy, but we have our first community engagement session and Carnaval to look forward to this weekend.
As a new staff member, it has been wonderful to see the Center change from a sleepy, quiet place to a vibrant home once the students arrived. We have a wonderful group of students who are as excited about field work as they are about spike ball and zumba. We are all excited for what will surely be a great semester.