When I Dip You Dip We Dip: The Mid-Service Crisis

Sorry to burst your bubble so early on but this post doesn’t have anything to do with Freak Nasty.

There will be absolutely no discussion of twerking, bouncing, bumping, jigglin’, or getting low on the ground. This post is solely about the emotional struggles journey of a Peace Corps Volunteer.

That volunteer being me.

HI.

This last week our Tico #31 volunteer group completed a much anticipated Mid-Service Training (MST); a Peace Corps milestone that marks the halfway completion of the 2-year service.

Watch us here as we awkwardly, yet so symbolically jump from our first to second year of service. Continue reading

Celebrating One Year as a PCV

This month, I celebrate the completion of my first year as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica.

It’s true what they say in the Peace Corps, that days pass by slowly but the months fly by.

How is it rainy season again already?

Reaching this point in my service is not only rewarding, but it brings me a sense of stability and comfort.

Before I left for the Peace Corps, 27 months felt like forever. But to really integrate into a new culture and community and work on sustainable long-term projects, all while learning a new language, it’s hardly enough time.

Now, different from a year ago, and even different from six months ago, I finally feel grounded; like I’ve found my place in my community and have a greater understanding for my host country and how things work (ahem, coffee is priority and meetings start at least an hour late).

In the whirlwind of all this, over the past six months I’ve experienced the ups and downs of working at a grass-roots level, transitioned in my role as a PCV, and even had some time to travel around the country (and Nicaragua!). Continue reading

Semana Santa: Experiencing Holy Week in Costa Rica

Where I come from, I’ve learned to celebrate Easter Sunday by painting eggs and brunching hard.

Champagne mimosas, stacks of pancakes and mounds of crispy hash browns.

The best of the best Sundays with the family. That’s my Easter.

But here in Costa Rica, things are done a little bit differently this time of year. And there’s no hypothetical bunny hopping around leaving chocolate creme-filled eggs and plastic confetti grass everywhere.

On the note of folkloric creatures can I just say that instead of a tooth fairy, here, A RAT comes to leave money underneath children’s pillows after they’ve lost a tooth. How terrifying is that?!

I just had to get that out there. Anyway, back to Easter stuff.

In Costa Rica, we celebrate Semana Santa (semana = week, santa = holy/saint).

Archivo_000 (3)Semana Santa, also known as Holy Week, is a major Catholic holiday celebrated throughout the world that consists of parades, processions, and local community celebrations. The holiday starts on Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. Continue reading

My Project: A Rural Tourism Site

For all Peace Corps Volunteers (well technically “trainees”), Site Assignment Day is a big deal.

Site Assignment Day is a special day two months into PST (Pre-Service Training) where program teams assign volunteers their:

  • Peace Corps site for the next 2 years
  • The main project they’ll be working on
  • The local partner / counterpart they’ll be working with (generally the person who requested the Peace Corps Volunteer)

In case you’re not familiar with the 27-month Peace Corps commitment, it’s:

  • 3 months of Pre-Service Training (usually in the country’s capital)
  • 24 months as a Peace Corps Volunteer in assigned site
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Pre-Service Training Squad
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In-Site Squad

On April 22, 2016, I received my assignment:

  • Site: Fila Naranjo, Coto Brus, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
  • Partner: Ana Cedy Montero, President of the women’s group: Asociación de Mujeres Productoras de Fila Naranjo
  • Project: Development of a Rural Tourism Site

Continue reading

What’s It like Living on a Peace Corps Volunteer Budget?

Let’s talk about that chedda.

No, I’m not talking about cheese, even though you know I’d like to be (since I’m from Wisconsin and all), I’m talking about money.

Or as we say here in Costa Rica, la plata. The silver. That cash money monaayyyy.  

You could probably guess with a title like “volunteer” that PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers) don’t make a ton of money. It’s true. We’re all broke. Continue reading

A Costa Rican Campo Christmas

Over the past few weeks, the thought of being away from home — away from friends, family, snow, cheese, Christmas cookies, wine — all the things that are comforting to me during winter and Christmas, was a difficult truth to swallow.

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But now that Christmas has come and passed, I feel appreciative of the time I spent with new friends and family, under a hot hot Costa Rican sun, with 3 wonderful Peace Corps volunteers, endless Christmas art activities, too much karaoke, ridiculously priced cheddar cheese (I’m from Wisconsin, it was necessary), not-so-delicious red wine, and Christmas cookies (yes, we made it happen). Continue reading

26 Things I’ve Done in My First 6 Months as a PCV

While November was a hectic month filled with a trip back home to the states, a week-long Peace Corps training in San Jose, and a hurricane/tropical storm, it also marks the completion of the first quarter of my Peace Corps service.

Yup, Tico #31 is officially 25% of the way done. Whoot whoot!

It feels…
Surprising, where has time gone?
Empowering, I’m still happy to be here 🙂
Fantastico, hey, I know some Spanish now!
Exciting, can we start some projects already? Continue reading

Tropical Storm Otto Hits Costa Rica

This past Thursday, Costa Rica and Nicaragua were hit by Tropical Storm Otto.

hurricane-otto

The storm made landfall on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast at 1pm on Thanksgiving Day as a Category 2 hurricane but quickly lost strength and was downgraded to a tropical storm. According to the US National Hurricane Center, at it’s strongest, Otto had winds of up to 110mph.

While the central and southern regions of Costa Rica were not terribly affected by the storm (except for excessive rain and flooding in some areas), the northern region has been severely damaged. Continue reading

Soy La Hija de Mi Abuela

Soy La Hija de Mi Abuela
I am the daughter of my grandmother

Growing up, I was always with my grandma.  I grew up on my grandparents’ farm in the countryside of Wisconsin, riding horses with my grandpa, gardening and cooking with my grandma, and spending time with my family…kickin’ it country bumpkin style. I absolutely loved living on a farm when I was younger, and more than anything, living with my grandparents.

As a little girl, I learned a lot from my grandma.

She taught me how to shoot a gun… Continue reading

My First 42K Marathon + 5-Hour Running Playlist

I just ran my first marathon last weekend! That’s right, the 42k, the 26.2, the whole shabang.


How was it?

Exciting, terrifying, exhausting, rewarding and thrilling.

…kinda like making through the end of a horror film.

Overall, it went better than I expected. My goal was to not walk (start low reach high right?) so I was just happy to finish the race without walking. The first 75% went great. I was cruising up until mile 18 and then things got rough. Real rough. The sun came out, the route turned solo, there was hardly any other spectators or runners around, and my stomach started hurting from all the GU energy packet things that I had consumed over the last few hours..Oooof. I fully regret choosing flavors such as espresso, peanut butter, chocolate and peanut butter (twice, really?), and vanilla.

I puked at the finish line. Not my proudest moment. But c’mon,…props for making it til the end right? Continue reading