I don’t know how to slaughter an animal. I don’t know which plants are edible and which will kill me. I don’t know much about gardening. Heck, I’m a barely competent chef. I eat out more than I’d like to admit.
Growing up as a kid in the suburban U.S., if I wanted something, the solution was always to buy it. If we wanted food, we bought it. If we wanted furniture, we bought it. If we needed a service provided — oil changed in our cars, say — we bought it. And usually, whatever it was, we threw it away soon after. I knew no other way of life.
That is not how they’re living here at Habla Ya Spanish School in Panama.
Panama is blessed with an incredibly lush climate, where things grow like mad. The seas teem with life, trees practically sprout out of the asphalt, and rain falls frequently. Here, the climate is basically perfect for sustainability. And yet, still, many multinational corporations have done quite well in convincing people here that they need to buy things.
But here in Bocas Del Toro, Habla Ya Spanish School is pushing back on that idea, bit by bit. Check out some of the cool sustainability and community building efforts they’ve got under way here in this tropical paradise:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid-in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: “Wow! What a ride!”
—Hunter S. Thompson
The day after the interview, I got the email I knew was coming: After further consideration and review of your C.V., we have decided not to… blah, blah, blah.
I wasn’t sure if I should be relieved or devastated.
I didn’t feel much either way.
I had known I was not getting the job.
I knew I didn’t have the energy to remain abroad much longer. I was thoroughly used-up and totally worn-out. All that remained was to skid across the finish line: a bus to Kathmandu, then a flight home.
“Are you okay?”
These are not words one wants to hear in the middle of a job interview.
And yet, that was exactly what the Austrian woman asked me, halfway through my interview. “Are you okay?”
The answer was obviously no, anyone but I could have seen that.
But I said yes. Everything was fine. I was good.
I would not get the job in Austria.
Since I posted “My First Travel Blogger Freebie,” it’s continued to be one of my top-performing posts, both in views and in comments. In fact, it’s already one of my best performing posts of the year.
Turns out, getting free travel is a thing lots of people are interested in! Who knew? 😉
So, with that said, here’s how I leveraged my first sponsored stay as a travel blogger into a second, bigger travel brand partnership with Habla Ya Spanish Schools, in Bocas del Toro, Panama. That’s where I’m writing you from, now.
I am staying and studying for free, in exchange for some content.
Here’s how I got here:
The jeep ride back to Pokhara took forever.
The road, typical of developing infrastructure, was rocky, dirty, and pothole-filled. The huge 4×4 jeep, luckily, was prepared for these conditions But I, riding without a seatbelt on one of the jump-benches in the back, was not.
My stomach was also feeling a little iffy — although clearly not as poorly as the diplomat’s daughter’s, who we had ceded the front seat to without any argument — and the jolting and sloshing was not helping anything.
But, the same way a life goes by day by day, month by month, year by year…the ride passed: minute by minute, hour by hour, until we were back on familiar ground.