We are now approaching the end of this trip with only one full day remaining at the community center. This trip has been a whirlwind of fun, emotions, learning, and connections. I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to spend the last two weeks in the community center with the kids. It was very interesting to learn about how lionfish are an invasive species who migrated to Panama by breaking out of home aquariums around the Florida area. They eat a huge number of fish and they reproduce extremely fast. They have no predators and are currently making a huge impact on the reefs. I was shocked to learn how dangerous these small fish are for the entire marine ecosystem. The Lionfish Project teaches about this invasive species, and also recommends that we eat them because they are the most eco-sustainable meat, and are also delicious. I was shocked about the lack of awareness surrounding lionfish all over the globe and believe that we should teach about their impacts.
Yesterday the Cristobal crew was unable to go to that community center because of the rainy weather and the risk that they could get stuck. They were very disappointed but were able to join us at the Basti center. Because of the rain, less kids were at the center and it was a different group as well. While teaching and making friendship bracelets, I was able to talk to many new kids. I made friendship bracelets for a few of the kids and they made a few for me. I now have matching bracelets with one of the girls who I am the closest to. I had my hair done many different times, played cards, and was able to reinforce old bonds, and even make some new ones. I will cherish the bonds that I have made and am very sad that I have one more day with them. Saying goodbye will be very difficult, but I will be so grateful that I had this experience and I will carry it with me for the rest of my life.