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Hats Off to Ronaldhino Jr.

Richard Roomes '08 (written Friday morning 5/19) - Yesterday was by far the most interesting day for me while being here in Panama.  After completing two days of service work with an agricultural program located within the various mountain ranges in Panama, we embarked on our next adventure to a school about an hour away. 

I was astonished to see that all of the children there were fully dressed in uniforms, something quite unexpected due to the heat and probably my own “rebellious” American nature.  We were able to tour the school briefly and were then ushered into a cafeteria where we could speak to the children more directly. With the help of our excellent translator Bryan Engh, we were able to communicate basic rules of the game and ultimately a better understanding than that given by television and other media sources. 

After Bryan’s explanation we then engaged in a “mock game” in which a couple of students were allowed to intermix into our regular offensive and defensive sets. The highlight of this scrimmage was when the quarterback, a schoolgirl no more than fifteen years old executed a spectacular “bootleg”, embarrassing our entire front seven. I forgot to mention that throughout this whole time, other members of the team not involved in the scrimmage walked around handing out candy, t-shirts, and toys. 

I seemed to be pretty popular among them. I would like to say that it was because of my charming and charismatic demeanor but I’m pretty sure that it was only because of the lollipops and toy cars I had in my possession. Shortly after this, we were challenged by a couple of the young boys in the school to participate in their style of futbol. 

Being authentic Wabash men we took up their offer and headed out to the “pitch”.  I have never seen all of the athletes of my team embarrassed athletically as what I saw yesterday. I, probably more than most, was made to look a fool as Ronaldhino Jr. sent a shot right through my legs in goal. I must note, however, that the infallible Brent Banach did score a goal off the left post to tie the game up. I don’t feel that bad anymore, however, he’ll probably be playing in the World Cup when he gets older. If skill wasn’t the greatest obstacle, the heat certainly was as I was completely drenched after 20 minutes of play.  Our opponents, however, barely glistened. 

After we left the school, we headed to Lake Gutan, which is a man-made lake created by the American government in order to supply the Panama Canal with freshwater.  It was amazing to know that while were out on the boats in the lake we were virtually in the middle of the canal.  According to our guide, the lake is filled with crocodiles and over 120 different species of snakes, 20 of whom can swallow a man whole.  Overall, I had an awesome time yesterday and I’m sure many more are to come!!!