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Catching up with some rest


The simulation of the humanitarian response to hurricanes in Caribbean Sea has finished, and I am now back to Panama City.

I am exhausted. The simulation was a very active undertaking, with lots of practical exercises in the field (visiting communities, making assessments). As the temperature kept on exceeding 40 degrees Celsius, the simulation took its toll. I got back to Panama literally ready for bed and a long, long sleep.

Despite being tired, I enjoyed the experience tremendously: both professionally and personally. I think that all of us found something useful… For me, I think that I managed to demystify a little how armies and civil protection forces work, and appreciate their commitment to deliver the best possible response to the affected people, even if, we may still at times, have a different perception what the priorities during emergencies may be. We challenged one another a lot… My colleagues tried to explain to me that their mandate is to strictly follow the orders of the host government, whereas I tried to have a slightly different approach, and argued that communities should be consulted first and foremost, even if that meant risk being at odds with host authorities. We had some really good discussions and identified lots of risks and opportunities for both of the approaches.

I loved the experience on the personal level too, as the group was extremely involved and I found my colleagues to be interesting and really good people. I will definitely have fond memories, and look forward to be working together in the future (probably responding to a real situation).

Here in Panama, I am very excited with my Spanish. I notice progress daily and I find it comfortable to use the language. I still make lots of mistakes, there are still situations where I get a bit lots, but I guess, my communication skills are relatively decent now!

As I am now well established, I am now planning my personal movements until the end of the year. Although nothing is decided yet, it seems like, I may be visiting Tahir in Toronto and then make a quick visit to my home in Portugal at the beginning of November! Exciting times!