The first step (after reading about the community and medo) is to contact our secretary, Amy Frank, illuminate. gigi @ yahoo.com and let her know what you're interested in, for example, teaching English, working in health, working with artisans, etc. The next step is to fill out the volunteer application. If our dates and needs and your interests and skills match, we'll start arranging for your stay.
If you have any more questions about Soloy, do not hesitate to contact Adan or the current volunteers, Anna Zaniewski, Marie-Rose Shoucri.
Please see the Soloy Safety factsheet. Briefly, Soloy is a pretty safe place, but you should boil or filter your water, consult your doctor before coming, and look out for snakes.
The accommodation facilities do not currently have much storage space. Therefore, we suggest that you pack fairly lightly. You will have a bed, so bringing sheets is a good idea. Also, pack clothes that are comfortable, modest, and dry quickly.
2.flat, large sheet for your bed
3.flashlight with a lot of batteries. LED flashlights are better, they use fewer batteries. They can also be purchased in Soloy.
4.camera and batteries
5.shoes to hike in
6.shoes to walk in rivers in(such as a river sandal)
8.sleepsack or lightweight sleeping bag
10.bottle to carry around water in
11. small daypack bag
15. anti germicidal hand soap(waterless) or something similiar
16.shamppo and conditioner
17.small basic first aid kit-with things like Cipro, neosporin, etc.
19. a couple of changes of conservative clothes. women should pack long skirts, a pair of quick drying pants, and a few conservative tops, ie t-shirts, not strappy, sexy or revealing tops. Men should pack pants and shirts. Only children wear shorts.
20.paper, pen, spanish dictionary
21.postcard of where you live for your host family
22.small gift for your host family.NOT expensive or electronic or requiring batteries. Good gifts would be: Pencils, school supplies,a book with pictures written in English. Limit for gift: 5 dollars.
23. Shampoo for lice and a lice comb.
24. snacks, a few extra bottles of water, gum
25. Money. There are no banks. Bring 200.00 in small bills and you´ll be fine.
(Homestays, including food, work out to about 30.00 a week)
I have been here for 3 months, and I found everything on the above list very useful!
we are in great need of a new or used laptop! preferably something with windows xp.if you know of one that can be donated, please bring it!
school supplies (paper, pens, scissors, glue, etc.), sporting equipment (eg. soccer balls), English reading books, activity books, CDs, encyclopedias and dictionaries are welcomed.
If you can bring medical donations, please contact us as we have a list of needs from the health clinic!
It is a good idea to buy some food in David before arriving in Soloy. In David, you can find almost any foodstuff that any normal supermarket in the US or Europe would stock. (SuperBaru sells tofu and Super 99 sells miso, if you're into that kind of thing)
Food that can be
found near the school of Soloy
Some food in cans like tuna and tomato paste, salsa
Bread, sweets (small cakes and cookies)
Cold sodas (occasionally)
Seasonal fruits and vegetables (sometimes)
You can also eat at the restaurants, which offers tipico meals (rice, fried plantains, beans, and chicken) for about US$1.50
can be found 30 minutes from the school:
Certain house supplies such as tanks and saucepans.
certain seasonal fruits such as bananas, oranges, mangoes, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, onions
honey, soy sauce ("salsa china"), plates, silverware, oatmeal
basic first aid supplies such as asprin, bandaids, alcohol, witch hazel, pepto-bismal, etc.
are not found near Soloy
Variety of fruits and vegetables
Medo has recently launched a homestay program. Your family will watch out for you, cook you traditional meals, and help you adjust to the Ngobe lifestyle. These are very basic accomodation, without runnig water or electricity.
Please be aware that the rooms offer good protection from rain, but not from insects. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you bring repellent and mosquito nets (mosquito nets can be purchased quite cheaply in David).
For more information regarding the homestay program, please see the homestay page.
You can eat in restaurants for about $ 3.50 US for three simple but filling meals. A health center is also located in the village that offers care for the local population. A public payphone is also available as well as internet access from the school. Note: the payphone does not always work.
First, you have to get yourself to Panama. Most volunteers fly into Panama City, then take a bus to David. There are also flights from Panama City to David, so check those out, if you're interested. You may also want to check out TACA airlines, which recently added direct flights into David from a number of US cities.
Some Panama City accomodation options:
Calle 34 y Avenida Justo Arosemena
Tel. 507 227-6767
Advantage: Offers free transportation from the airport to the hotel, restaurant, free internet, air conditioning.
Price: approximately 15$ per night
La Casa de Carmen
Recommended by Maria, volunteer November 2005-June 2006
Calle Primera de Carmen 32
Barrio el Carmen
Tel. 263 4366
$10 dormitory/ $20-30 double / $45 apartment (up to 6)
Airport pickup: $20/group
Advantage: free white bread in the morning, friendly, pretty converted home centraly located with hammocks in the back, free coffe all day, free internet
To get to David from Panama City:
Find the central bus station of Panama City
A taxi or the hotels car can take you there in about 20 minutes, and will cost about $3.
Bus tickets can be purchased at the counter, buses leave approximately on the hour or as soon as they fill up.
Price: approximately US$13.00 (night busses are $15)
Advantage: TV, air conditioning, and restrooms.
Schedule: Approximately every hour except on Public Holidays
Travel Time: Approx.7-8 hours
Price: $16.50 for a single room, for volunteers $24.50 double. *bring a letter proving your volunteer status.
Address: avenue 1 este
Telephone: 774 6732
Advantages: air conditioning, hot water shower, cable, central location between bus station and park
Purple house Hostel
Address: Corner Calle C Sur and Ave. 6 Oeste
Tel. 774 4059
Advantages: friendly hostel atmosphere, dog named fluffy, kitchen, cable in living room, located near new comercial district and good supermarkets.
Disadvantages: no air conditioning, no hot water.
We recommend that you spend the night in David so that you can take a bus to Soloy in the morning.
To get to Soloy:
First, find the local bus station
of David ("terminal")
Any taxi will take you there for approx. US$1.00 or you can walk for about 10 minutes from Hotel Toledo.
At the bus station, find a car to Soloy, which are a 4x4 vehicles which say "Soloy-David" on the windshield. It is near the stops for Hortconcitos and San Felix. The "bus" is located in section "C" of the station.
Buses have small benches and often limited space for passengers. Luggage is transported on top of the vehicle. Be prepared for a bumpy and crowded ride. (Sometimes there are 12 adults in the back, 3 adults in the front, 2 riding on the roof, 2 hanging off the back, and half a dozen children squeezed in as well. but that's only sometimes). The first time you do the ride from David, you may well think that the whole thing is going to capsize. But somehow, they manage to make the trip. By the third time you do it, you'll be surprised at how comfortably uncomfortable it can be.
Schedule: Buses leave David at approximately 9 A.M., 10 A.M. and 12 A.M. There are also afternoon buses, but it is best to arrive in Soloy in the morning on your first trip.
It is recommended that you arrive 30 minutes in advance to reserve a place.
Travelling time: Two and a half hours
E-mailing Adan 2 to 3 days ahead of time with your itinerary plans will allow Adan to meet you in Soloy.
Ask the driver to drop you off
at the Development Center. ("centro de desarollo en Jevay") or wherever
Adan arranges with you.
Interesting things to do in and around Soloy
Near the school, at about 10 minutes walking distance, there is a river where you can swim and refresh yourself from the hot weather. There are also many hiking trails with a very beautiful view of the region. If you like horseback riding, you will have the opportunity to do so using the school horses. Often, in the afternoons, the teachers get together to play sports such as volleyball and basketball in the schoolyard. At night, since there is electricity in the school, the teachers sometimes watch movies, or play cards.
On weekends, you can plan to visit some touristic places in Panama such as:
Boquete and its surroundings
Bocas del Toro
and much more. The people in Soloy will be glad to suggest to you interesting destinations.
Thank you once again for your consideration and interest. We hope to see you soon!
Adan Bejerano, Marie Rose Shoucri, and Anna Zaniewski