Showing posts from February, 2013

And You Thought YOU Had a Bad Day

Wake up late this morning? Lots of traffic? Forget your lunch or your homework? Have a boss or teacher with crazy demands? Well, I sympathize. I am sure it was not a pleasant day. But a bad day in the jungle falls into a whole different category.
Tuesday was a regional meeting for all Volunteers in the Darien, and that evening to celebrate the completion of group 67's service we went out for fried fish and plantains...followed by an epic dance party to the classics such as Cher, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and Michael Jackson. There were enough of us that we took over the restaurant and danced until midnight, before heading back to our various hostels and huts to crash. I went to sleep on Rachel's floor about 1:30am.
At 6am on the dot, her cat dive bombed from the table onto my stomach, and that was that. With the sun already pouring in the window, I was begrudgingly awake. I grabbed breakfast, ran a couple of errands and chose not to go with the rest of the group on a hike…

Building Poop Boxes

Building Poop Boxes
A summary of our work days, as told by the numbers...
Day 1- TRANSPORT (Dec 28th) 4 community members (male) 1 gringa 3 hours spent waiting for the delivery truck to show up 152 sacks of a sand and gravel mixture 1 flooding canoe 1 replacement canoe 10 minutes to eat a bowl of rice between deliveries for lunch 152 sacks of sand 16 30' lengths of rebar 32 100lb bags of cement mix 2 wheelbarrows with flat tires 11 hour work day 1 community meeting at the end of the day to get volunteers
Day 2- MORE TRANSPORT (Dec 29th) 152 sacks of sand to be moved again 360 concrete blocks 15 community members (male) 2 gringas (Siobhan arrived to visit!) 1 stewed pig's heart with rice for lunch 7 hour work day
Day 3- PLANCHAS (Dec 30th) 11 community members 3 gringas (Danielle arrived to visit!) 3 cement planchas (foundations) poured 3 cases of chiggers on gringas 8 hour work day
Day 4- LAST PLANCHA AND BLOCKS (Dec 31st) 7 community members 3 gringas 1 gringo (Ben arrived to visit and the men of my communi…

Sending Kids to Camp

In October, I spoke with the teachers in my school to find out which two students they recommended that I invite to apply for GAD Camp. GAD (gender and development) camp is a week long retreat for youth ages 12-18 from all over the country to get together to play games, share cultures, learn about health, leadership, respect, responsibility, goal setting, and future planning. For many kids it is the first time they have ever left their province.
For the teachers, the female recommendation was easy, the girl at the top of the class. Albamilia, the 14 year old daughter of a family of Colombian refugees who was finishing up 5th grade. The boy was a bit harder, because there were hardly any boys in the school old enough to go to the camp. Abran was still 11 at the time, but would be turning 12 days before camp, and he was still a top student.
The first week of November, I invited my kids. On Monday I visited Albamilia's family first, explained to them the camp, and could see the excit…

Because I Can't End on a Sad Note

Why I Joined the Peace Corps (written on December 1, 2012, my 24th birthday)
It started at 11 years old when I joined a girls leadership and service organization called Rainbow Girls and pledged my life to Love and Service.
As I grew up, I watched some towers fall, thousands of people die, and family members and friends went off to fight in wars. I remember being scared of cultures I knew nothing about, and wondering how other people could hate Americans so much.
Through Rainbow Girls and Habitat for Humanity mission trips, I learned how fulfilling it is to serve others and that I really can make a difference.
With my theatre degrees I learned how to organize, mobilize, and manage projects. I learned how to collaborate with others. I gained enough self-confidence to believe I might actually have what it takes to be a Volunteer.
I get asked, 'Why did you join the Peace Corps?' very regularly. My answer is always, 'It just got to the point where I felt, how could I not?' The …


October 28, 2012-December 3, 2012. One month and five days.
Remember the story about building a classroom? This was that day. It is really not fair that sometimes I get 2 or 3 stories to tell within the same day and then can go a week doing nothing but watching chickens and getting bug bites. It is especially hard when of the two stories, one is so great and the other so bad. Because you never remember the good stuff. In a few hours, if you just read the last bunch of posts I have put up together, you will remember that I get discriminated against for being a woman, that I threw up in Yaviza, and that a baby died. When that happens please force yourself to remember that I am (ever so painfully slowly) eroding gender roles and gaining respect, that I got 4 latrines mostly built in my community, and that I have some of the best friends in the Darien (and Cocle) a girl could ask for.
But still, a baby died. I have avoided this story for over a month now because it is inherently dramatic a…