Pure Joy.

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This is my friend Humberto, one of the most earnest, joyful, genuine, kindest, and welcoming young adults I have ever met.

He speaks peacefully, studies hard, and works harder.

He practices his English for hours everyday, is working on getting hired in the local sugarcane fields, and is excited that he has an opportunity to travel to visit the States at some point in the coming year.

He also happens to be one of my first real friends I have made here in-site, and for that, I will forever be thankful.

He has made sure to introduce to other friends and has expanded my social circle times a billion, a priceless gift.

I wish you could all meet him to see what I mean and have your days brightened just a bit.

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Muelle Jumping.

Welcome to a little adventure in paradise…

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My regional PCV friends and I took a day and went out to the beach near my site to go hang out, with the hopes of surfing and a little cerveza. The waves were not good for the surfing part, so we found an alternative adventure.

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Managua Crew!

What was it? Muelle (pier/dock) jumping!

There is an abandoned pier that was originally built for the Somoza family’s personal yacht. While it has been disconnected from its better half (see picture below), it is still very much accessible – but only by swimming out to it! Here’s how our adventure worked out:

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See where the part on the left slopes down? That is where you swim out to, then climb out of the ocean up onto the ramp part (caution: very slippery!). Take the ramp part up and walk out to the end.

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What I imagine my mother’s reaction to this adventure would be. Sorry, Mom.

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And there is where you jump! Very end of the dock on the right hand side, the drop is about 25 feet, then you swim or body surf back to shore (about 50 meters at lower-tide). Quite fun!

It was an absolute blast and I promise, if you come visit and want to go, I will take you!

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Hello, beautiful home.

A Dreamy Travel Day.

“Carpe the hell out of this diem.”

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Mt. Adams from above.

I got med-clearance to return to Nicaragua about noon on Friday, and was on a plane to Nicaragua by 10:30am Saturday morning. I was itching to get back, but it was so hard to say goodbye to my family and friends. After some tears, last-minute packing, happy hour with friends, and lots of hugs, I was off. Dad took me to the airport, and we made a not-so-quick detour to my favorite gluten-free bakery in Seattle where I got to consume my last US meal: a very early-morning gluten-free breakfast sandwhich, and spend some good time with my dad before heading to the airport. ¡Vale la pena!

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Hills and texture.

I have always loved traveling. That minute of stepping into the airport always fills me with excitement. These days it always fills me with tears, but I take that as a reason to be thankful – I have reasons to be sad to leave places because I have dear friends and community. Today was no different.

I got to the airport to find my flight had been delayed, destroying any chance of making my connecting flight in Houston. Bless the dear lady working at the United counter, she worked to get me a seat on a different airline’s flight. Then, that airline proceeded to let me check my bags for free based on Peace Corps service. Booyah!

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Half-frozen lake somewhere over Oregon.

I left Seattle in the midst of a dark and dreary morning, with a bit of a heavy heart and anxiousness about returning to Nicaragua. At about 2000 ft., we lifted out of the cloud cover to find the most spectacular views I have seen flying. I was blessed with a window seat and these photos are from my sky-high perch. Yes, I am that girl who lugs her DSLR onto the plane and keeps it at her feet in the hopes of snapping pictures from above. It was a sweet moment of remembering the sunshine.

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Mt. Adams in the foreground, Mt. St. Helens in the back.

I had just enough time in Houston to grab some food, a last glimpse of liquid heaven in the form of a Starbucks drink, and a little downtime at my gate. I sat down at the gate at the same time as another guy and we got chatting. Turns out he is from LA and the husband of a very famous Nicaraguan women’s author! Besides offering an incredibly insightful look into the experience of an expat in Nicaragua, he was very nice and engaging. Such a fun, random connection to make.

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Farm fields creating beautiful snow patterns.

I got onboard my plane to find that they had accidently upgraded me to a better seat – helllllooooo, extra legroom! I plugged in my headphones, popped out the journal, and made a somewhat lame attempt at processing what was going on that very moment in life. There is something about travel days that makes me want to document and record and remember, but the words don’t often come easily. Some things just stay in the heart and never make it onto the page.

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Sunset over my plane in Houston. Final glance at the USA.

I landed in Managua and immediately felt amazing. I was back. Later than expected, but back. I struggled through customs after not speaking Spanish for a month, lugged my huge bags through security, and waited around until a decent priced taxi showed up. Driving through Managua felt good. The warth, the cool breeze, the loud music. This is my new home and returning to it just reinforced that. And I love it.

Sitka & Spruce.

As my Christmas gift, my brother and sister-in-law not only came up to Seattle for a couple nights, but took me out on the town for an incredible dinner. My sister-in-law Ashley is a great writer and has published a cookbook, and she and my brother are both great cooks. Everything food-wise they have introduced me to has been excellent and this evening’s selection was no different!

The second we walked into Melrose Market, I was in love.

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The Market itself has a floral shop, cheese shop, meat shop, Homegrown restaurant, a cute home store, and bar. But tucked into the back corner of the building is this gem:

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Sitka & Spruce.

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I love the open, community-style seating, refurbished warehouse, exposed brick and beautiful wood. Lots of little details, natural finishes, and just a really welcoming atmoshpere.

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They recommend doing family style, so we ordered a bunch of wine and different dishes to share.

We started with this carrot, potato, and fava bean leaf salad.

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A little something lovely to drink.

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Melt-in-your-mouth scallops with a beautiful sauce and garnishes.

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Roasted lamb, onion and cabbage. Not normally a lamb-fan, but this was phenomenal.

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Thanks, Jake & Ashley, for a wonderful night out!

Airport Reunion.

This was my first glimpse of the USA as we approached Texas. Such a surprisingly strange moment.

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I got teary-eyed flying into Seattle as the city lights appeared out the plane window.

I was sitting next to a fellow PCV from El Salvador who I met on the plane (and swapped stories for hours after realizing we were both Central America Peace Corps volunteers and knew a lot of Seattle folks in common – such a small world!) and we both had a moment… That “oh wow, we are going home and are not quite sure what to feel right now” moment. Such happiness and excitement, especially for the people who would be meeting us at the airport, but also a little apprehension. Switching cultures is hard.

But this? This was awesome:

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My dear friend Drea and her husband surprised me by coming to the airport. Hence the very unflattering, but very excited face below:

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And Dad brought me a Chipotle burrito bowl. To the airport. At 10:30pm. Yes please.

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