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We are pleased to introduce our first post from the Winterline Student Media Group #2, in which they share first-hand their experience in Panama.

While in Bocas del Toro, Panama, the Winterline group was introduced to various methods of forming a closer, more open community. We had leaders of the day, were given the opportunity to talk in an open space, and asked to shared our daily Punta Alto’s (High of the Day) and Punta Bajo’s (Low of the Day).

What better way to tell you about our experience scuba diving than to share each of our Punta Alto’s and Punta Bajo’s for the week.

Cole Simonds
Mi Punto Bajo: In order to receive our scuba certification, all of the Winterline students had to take a practical exam roughly 15 feet under the ocean. During this exam, our dive instructor would loosen the weight belts that helped us maintain negative buoyancy, remove the regulators from our mouths so we couldn’t breathe, and flood our masks with water, inhibiting our vision–sometimes all at once. Yes, it was as sucky as it sounds. Though my dive partner, Zac, and I passed after our second try, it was incredibly stressful and something I hope to never experience again…ever.

Mi Punto Alto: After everyone passed the NAUI Scuba Certification Exam and the underwater practical exam, our lead instructor Jim, rewarded us with an unsupervised night dive. We were dropped off at our dive site around 7:00 pm and prompted to back-roll off the edge of the boat into the tar-black water. Despite how absolutely terrifying this may sound (and how much it felt like we were the soon to be victims of a Panamanian version of Jaws), our fears were thwarted when we discovered the bio luminescence in the water--bio, meaning life, and luminescence, meaning light. For us, it’s also the zoo plankton that clutters the sea. Because of the resemblance these floating particles had to stars and the feeling of weightlessness we felt when submerged, being underwater felt like floating in some uncharted cosmic galaxy. It is, I kid you not, one of the most breathtaking things I have ever witnessed. 

Jon Walls
Mi Punto Bajo: Though many people enjoy sharing the trials and tribulations of their day and cheering over their triumphs, I do not. I typically refrain from such emotional openness, and, because of that, most of my answers were short and superficial. I do appreciate the mindset to create a “safe space”, but that protocol simply did not resonate with me. In essence, mi punto bajo was having to talk about mi punto bajo.

Mi Punto Alto: I am a person that relishes in the opportunity to try something new, and in this case, that new thing was wake boarding. Though I was unable to “board the wake” on my first, roughly, 20 attempts, I managed to, somehow, stand up and shred the foamy water with the help of adoring fans, as well as the fear of wiping out in jellyfish-ridden water. While swerving across waves and trailing behind the boat, I felt like "friqqin Jesus Christ." It was, for a lack of better words, totally tubular. 

Caroline Stukel
Mi Punto Bajo: I was lucky enough to have a parasite fester in my stomach during our stay in Panama. Not to go into graphic detail about the inner workings of the digestive system, but they say the beautiful thing about parasitic illness is that everything comes out of anywhere at the worst times. And it did. Often. 

Mi Punto Alto: Among the pleasant chaos of our scuba schedule, we had the opportunity to help the community build a roof for the local school. Despite the everlasting presence of bugs and using charades as my main source of communication, knowing I made a tangible difference in the lives of our hospitable hosts helped me sleep well that night. It is absolutely cliche, but the locals of Solarte changed my life far more than I could ever change theirs.  

Jamie Fortul
Mi Punto Bajo: I was hungry.
Mi Punto Alto: I ate.