As soon as I got off the plane in Panama, my skin became hot and sticky as the humidity hit me like a wall. I have been attending an international university in Japan and am currently on a one-year exchange in Norway. Because of the long summer break from the end of May to the beginning of September, I thought it would be a great opportunity to spend my time doing an internship in an environment that I have never been in before.
The first few days were spent getting used to the humidity, heat, and bugs. Being in a jungle in the rural region of Sortóva, Panama, you can’t go a day without experiencing all three of them in some form. There are the occasional frogs, bats, and beetles that live with us in the house. I was eaten alive by mosquitoes as I have always been extremely prone to mosquito bites. Did I mention there was a scorpion as I was unsuspectingly taking a nice, hot shower?
But these are really a valuable part of the irreplaceable experience of living on the Art Farm. Every morning, I start my days with a fresh avocado on toast along with the only pineapples I’ve ever had that are sweet enough to bite into without them biting you back. Turmeric grows in abundance as they are turned into bioavailable turmeric paste that are amazing for your body, both inside and out. There are breadnuts that can be made into cookies in substitution for flour, making gluten-free an easy feat to achieve. Talk about farm-to-table and eating healthy!
As part of the internship, it is my responsibility to come up with ways to promote these foods that we harvest on the farm, implement analysis for social media to increase engagement, and formulate new ideas to let more people know about the produce she grows. On days that I am not working on my internship project, Lyn takes me to the river that flows on the farm, swimming at the beach, and sightseeing around the volcanic areas of Boquete and Volcán. When you’ve got so many unique opportunities waiting for you to be experienced, it’s obvious that it’s not very difficult to be an intern here.
Half of my time as an intern at the Art Farm has already passed, but there are still many tasks that I have yet to accomplish before leaving and more experiences to take back with me to Japan. As a constantly growing farm tended to with lots of love and care, it has so much to offer to anyone who is interested in contributing to its continuing evolution.
— written by Sanae Okuyama, intern Summer 2018