Today was quite exciting as the entire group had the opportunity to experience Cristobal for the day. As I work with the kids at the Bastimentos community center, I’d never met the kids on Cristobal or seen the island; my current picture of it came solely from the stories told by my friends that travel to the island to work at its community center. I was eager to meet the cute kids myself and make a connection with them however I worried that they would stick to the relationships they’d already formed. Upon our walk from the dock once we arrived, kids quickly greeted us with cheerful smiles.
While happy to see their friends, they were just as happy to make new ones. We started off the day by either taking a tour of medicinal plants or learning about cacao. Many kids joined us for the morning, and I appreciated the chance to get to know them as we walked through the jungle. We said goodbye for lunch to see them again for afternoon festivities including helping with Father’s Day cards (Feliz Día de Los Padres), practicing English through forming sentences, and engaging in a muddy soccer game. It was special to experience the welcoming nature of this community. Throughout my time in Bocas, the kids have helped me to learn the importance of spreading joy and happiness. It really makes your day watching a six year-old uncontrollably giggle as they play with their friends, as carefree as they can be. At the end of the day, a few of my new friends walked us back to our boat, nearly joining us for our ride back to Basti. It’s incredible how fast such strong relationships can be formed.