¡Bienvenidos a Nicaragua!

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My internet connection is spotty and slow, but I wanted to send a quick hello to you all. Thank you for all your love and support as I was getting ready to leave – now that I am here, it is obvious that this is and was the right decision for myself. I am in love with my life. Yes, there are hard days, but it is so beautiful.

I made if safe and sound to Nicaragua with my group of fellow Peace Corps Trainees and we are living the hectic life of training – Spanish classes, cultural lessons, host family stays, technical training, and lots of homework.

The town I´m in for training is absolutely beautiful. There are four of us trainees here, since we are about the same language levels, and we take classes in each other´s houses from language instructors five days a week. There is an amazing old church really close to my house that holds beautiful services all throughout the week, and sets off fireworks about every 2 hours (not even kidding – they go on throughout the night), as well as multiple times during each service.

I live in a beautiful, old, traditional style hacienda, with and amazingly welcoming and hilarious host family. I have my own little room that is as cozy as can be. Yes, there are bats pooping on my head at night (thank goodness for mosquito nets that catch most of it!), cockroaches in my shoes, and a screaming baby next door, but I wouldn´t trade this experience for anything.

Our technical training is intensive, but amazing. It is as if I handpicked the subjects I am most interested in and get to take classes just on that. So far, we´ve had sessions on economic development here in Nicaragua, dengue and malaria (you know I love myself some infectious diseases!), food security, cultural norms, political and economic history of nicaragua, and more.

While I have tons of stories to share, I will let this be all for now. I´m working on trying to get an internet modem, so hopefully will be able to post more soon. But I´m also loving not having constant access to all things web-related, so who knows 🙂

Miss you all!

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My Life in Bags.

My life for the next 27 months!

Well, after a hectic weekend of seeing family and friends in Portland, packing all day Sunday (thanks wonderful family for your help!), I officially headed off on my PC adventure early Monday morning. My life is now in two bags and two carry-ons. Phew. And I still feel like I brought too much.

I got to meet my group in DC yesterday, go through some training, get one last meal of Thai food (!) and now we are waiting at the airport for our flight to Nicaragua! It has been a crazy whirlwind, but I am excited about the people I get to go through training with and for the potential that the next few years holds. And as a quote I found (very early) this morning says:

“All great change is preceded by chaos.”

– Deepak Chopra –

Chaos it has been, but good chaos. And now the real change begins. Next post will be from Nicaragua!

The Junk No Longer In My Trunk.

As clutter falls away we realize how much we depend on clutter to keep our minds employed, to make them feel masterful. We do not want to face the barreness that comes when our mind-made structures fail, so we run toward some distraction.” 

~ Parker Palmer ~

This past weekend, some dear friends helped me organize and put on a yard sale to get rid of some of my stuff. And let me just say, there was a lot of stuff.

 I had been in my apartment for about a year a half and am still at a loss for how I came to have so much. When I first received my Peace Corps placement info and found out I had five months to prep, I came up with a plan to slowly sort through all my belongings. I would do one drawer or basket, once or twice a week, and separate anything that I was going to keep from what I thought could be given away/sold. Those latter items got put up in our attic, with the hopes of finding good homes for them. As I got closer to my move date and realized how much stuff we were talking about, it was clear that a yard sale would be the quickest way to make a little moolah off of all the sellable stuff.

So, enter last Saturday and the great yard sale. My friends made some pretty great signs:

While people browsed, my friends and I had a pho picnic, lounged on blankets and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, mostly because of the people who showed up to look at and barter over the goods.

The people who come by yard sales are pretty hilarious. We met people from all over, including some pretty funny older men, one of whom asked my neighbors if he could buy some tulips from their yard, then proceeded to give one to me as a ‘parting gift’ and another who whispered to me in a very heavy Russian accent: “You have very nice personality. But I cannot say out loud, because it might sound like harrasment.” Ha. Yes.

All in all, this process of sorting, cleaning, clearing, selling, and now, packing, has me thinking a lot about the value of what we hold onto, what we put in our homes, and what becomes important. Getting rid of so much stuff has me feeling a bit like an onion, peeling back layers, causing a few tears, and all in all, getting to a cleaner and healthier core.  What I have left are things that are special and important to me, and much closer to what I ‘need’ as compared to ‘want/think I need’.

And in two days, my entire life will fit into two bags. Peace Corps baggage policy just changed, so I can now bring 100 lbs. of belongings with me (it was 80 lbs. until a few weeks ago). But I’m aiming for lower. Mostly out of desire to not be the American who shows up with a ton of ‘stuff’, but also because I’m looking forward to living a simpler lifestyle in Nicaragua. I want to learn from folks who live off of much less and know what poverty looks like, and how my decisions and choices affect our economies and their lives. I know I’m about to get my world rocked.