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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The I-CAL Adventure has Begun!

For the next two weeks, collegiate agriculture students who were selected to take part in the International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership (I-CAL) program will be traveling in Columbia and Panama and blogging about their adventures.


Upon arrival in Orlando, Florida, we began our orientation and training process in which each I-CAL participant was charged to present on a topic pertaining to Colombian and Panamanian agriculture. After spending a day preparing, we were ready to begin our adventure to Panama bright and early the next morning. Aside from the unexpected flight delay and a turbulent and steep landing, the morning went extremely smoothly. We even made it through customs in record time.

We made a new friend today. His name is Christopher and he will be helping us in our travels- guiding, translating, and answering any and all questions we might have. Today we were lucky enough to see first-hand Panama City and learn briefly about its history.

Since Panama City never experiences earthquakes or hurricanes, it is home to gorgeous skyscrapers reaching 85+ stories high. After checking into our hotel which is shore of the Panama Canal, we met with our U.S. Grains Council representative, Kurt Schultz, over lunch.

Kurt briefed us on our itinerary for the coming week in Panama, beginning with an educational day tomorrow at the Panama Canal and the world’s second largest grain container port. Both of which will allow us to witness international trade first-hand.

It is hot and humid here in Panama, raining off and on, with lightning illuminating the sky for moments at a time. Perhaps the most interesting part of the day was the fish market, both a culturally shocking and eye opening experience for all of us. The newly built facilities provided an excellent opportunity for small vendors to sell their products, which make up the largest sector of their agricultural industry.

We then toured downtown Panama City, where we visited some notable historical sites: monuments, a cathedral filled with gold icons, a seawall once used to guard the city from pirates, and much more.

We are extremely excited to learn about Panamanian and Colombian agriculture over the next few weeks!

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