The Panamanian Adventure: YAY WATER

March 10, 2015

Today has been hot and a mess – truly a hot mess (but in mostly a good way).

We started out the day looking at the watershed around the Mantasñillo watershed in nine different places, following it downstream. Can you talk about the smell? (okay you can’t, but I can. It was nasty.) It was a great opportunity to look at a different side of Panama City and put my Spanish listening skills to use.

It’s eye-opening to see how the rivers look and are treated by the people + authorities here. The lower-income communities live at the higher end of the watershed and throw literal trash into their rivers. Unlike in Texas, Panamanians have the option to pay a fee to get their trash picked up. This means the choice for many people between food and trash services, which is an obvious choice for the majority (I immediately understood, especially when it come to this awesome fruit). People, even in the ole US of A, think of the here and now instead of the future impact.

Because of these desperate situations, the effects are increased dramatically. People at the bottom of the watershed reap a lot of the muck when they contribute less to the issue (or so it seems) because of their higher disposable income to spend on disposal.

I’ve learned about Riparian Rules and filtration systems and it’s such a different world from the business school. The great thing is that my group comes from different backgrounds and focuses so we all bring different things to the table that I wouldn’t think of without these integrated systems.

One of the most impactful things for me (+ my teammates) was when we went to one of the primary schools and visited a 5th grade classroom. No one in the class could say what the name of the river was just 20 feet from their window, nor did they know much about this water issue at all. They knew they shouldn’t throw trash in it, but their instinct and living situation causes them to have a mindset of survival (of themselves, not necessarily the world around them).

Our project is a work in process so this information is just a teaser. Stay tuned for more complete analysis (I know that’s what you read this for – in depth analysis of watershed issues in Panama)!

We spent lunch at the shopping mall and I ate Subway because there weren’t any true Panamanian restaurants and I’m not about the Maccas (McDonald’s) life. Our smoothies were on point which is an obvious plus, especially considering how much work it took to order + receive them.

After lunch we went to the Wastewater Treatment Plant *cue cheers* where we got an hour-long lecture on the process it goes through to become water that can be used again for certain purposes. I’ll spare you the details on the presentation, but I think the highlight was our bus driver snoring. I’m also lacking on the technical terms in Spanish so most of the time was spent trying to piece things together (semi-successfully). Also, we couldn’t actually do the tour because none of us had work or rain boots (thus, I wore jeans for nothing).

“Do you want to take a picture with the treatment plant?”

Super large bummer of the day: our buddy Gunnar (think TMNT) was in the hospital. What do you do with sick friends? Send them selfies.

#SKWAD + table selfie

Tomorrow we get to put together our topographical map and analyze more data to get a clearer picture of our project. It’s coming along quite smoothly, if I do say so myself (which I do). Hasta mañana!

twin-frat/geoscience stars Nick + Dan at your service.

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