While being a Peace Corps Volunteer comes with a plethora of exciting opportunities, one of the most rewarding aspects of service can be working on long-term projects with our communities.
Projects come in all different shapes and sizes, and as PCVs, we are able to apply for and receive grants to facilitate our work. Volunteers are generally allowed 12-17 months to apply for grants, and while that might seem like a long time, between the rigorous application, implementation, and close-out processes, it goes by really fast.
February has been busy busy busy! Which, after spending most of December and January in my site, has been a glorious gift.
I think it’s normal to feel like January is a never-ending month but this year, it felt especially long. I didn’t have much going on in my community and furthermore, didn’t have any trips, trainings, or meetings planned to break up the weeks. I was just counting the days until early February when my entire family was to come visit Costa Rica. I’m serious. I would get out of bed every morning and throw a big ol’ X on the previous day and watch the numbers slowlyyyy count down one by one. And ya know what? Some months are just like that when you’re in the Peace Corps and that’s OK.
Come early February, this girl was STOKED. I packed my bags and headed to San Jose to await the arrival of my family members, who were flying in from Wisconsin and my brother and his wife, who were flying in all the way from Ukraine. It was to be our first out-of-Wisconsin family vacation EV-ER. Continue reading →
In Costa Rica, the month of January sometimes feels like un mes de descanso (a month of rest). Coffee picking season has come to the end, children are on school vacations, and endless fiestas are still taking place throughout the country celebrating the new year…is it me or does January 1 feel like forever ago?
While many spend the month relaxing and recuperating, January is a very important month for many Peace Corps volunteers in Costa Rica who are working hard in their communities to facilitate JumpStart English Camps.
Since arriving in Fila Naranjo, chia seeds have become one of the main staples in my diet. In fact, I might even go as far as to say that they are thee staple of my diet. I put them in my smoothies, my raw carrot cake balls, and whaddaya know even in my pancakes!
Chia seeds are incredible little guys – they’re packed with fiber, high in antioxidants, and rank as a top plant-based source of protein – and, not to mention, pretty cheap, which makes them the perfect food for a broke Peace Corps Volunteer like muaself. No wonder I’m so obsessed.
Just 2 tablespoons have 120 calories, 10 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, and tons of vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, and potassium. Plus, once you soak them, they expand into a whopping cupful of jelly-like deliciousness! Mamma mia! Continue reading →
On December 26, 2016 I woke up with such a relief – I had made it through my very first Christmas away from home. I remember reassuring myself that my second year of service would be different; I would make it home to spend the holidays with friends and family. I would break out my winter boots, frolic in the snow, and snuggle up next to the fire with my favorite dog, Maple, and a massive cup of hot cocoa while the holiday tunes rang out in the background. Oh how glorious it would be.
My cute little Maple waiting for me back in Wisconsin. She’s all grown up!
But, when the final quarter of my Peace Corps service began filling up with new projects, community invitations and events, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to swing a trip home in December. After accepting that I would be spending Christmas again in my site – a rural community of 200 people – I did my best to do it right this time around. Continue reading →
Even after living almost two years in Costa Rica I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Not only am I fulfilling my dream of being a Peace Corps Volunteer, I’m living in one of the most beautiful places in the entire world!
…even though it’s either just dumping rain or the sun is boiling off my tender skin.
Since being in Costa Rica, I’ve not only had the chance to explore places in country like Tortuguero and La Casona, I also went to Nicaragua and just last month, took an 18-day trip to Mexico.
It was glorious…y muy barato (very cheap) for all you money savers out there.
I don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad thing but for the sake of optimism I’m going to say that it’s good. A LOT has happened since May, so maybe that’s why…
I remember when I was just a trainee back in pre-service training and one of my favorite training sessions was when the veteran volunteers would come talk to us about their experiences. We were just little buoyant nuggets full of hope and determination and SO eager to know the real deal with being a PCV.
We were always loaded with questions. After a while, I noticed this recurring theme of volunteers telling us how the second year of service was so different from the first and ohhh the second year really flies by because you’re just so busy and yadda yadda yadda.
I brushed it off until my mid-service crisis hit me like a bag of bricks and I was deep down in the dumps. I was feeling useless in site and the women’s group I worked with was just a complete hot mess. Things truly felt like they were getting worse by the day and the little work that I did have to do in my tiny community of 200 was slowly slipping away.
I was nervous because all I had lined up for this amazing “Year 2” were two Camp GLOWs (young female leadership camps), which I was working on with another volunteer. While I was super excited for those to happen, my squeaky clean calendar post-July left me feeling nervous and frankly, a little terrified…
Yup, that’s right. This smoothie bowl is packed full of a rainbow’s-worth of healthy goodness and enough fiber to give you the bowel movement of your dreams.
You see here in the Peace Corps, we deal with a lot of panza (belly) issues. Whether it’s a parasite that’s found it’s way into the potable water from last night’s big rain storm or some questionable greasy street food that’s been sitting out too long (I see you empanada and chicharron lovers), we, the proud Peace Corps Volunteers of Costa Rica, have all been there.
And by there I mean on the toilet…for a long time.
Since arriving in Costa Rica, I had always wanted to visit Tortuguero. So when my friend said she was going last month, I didn’t hesitate to invite myself along.
Tortuguero is located on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica and is famous for for its long serene beaches that are nesting grounds for sea turtles. Basically in my mind, Tortuguero translates to “Land of the Turtles.”
YES, TURTLES. GIANT TURTLES. BABY TURTLES. MEDIUM TURTLES. SMALL TURTLES. ALL THE CUTE TORTUGAS.
I knew that Tortuguero would be one of my favorite spots in Costa Rica from the moment we stepped off the boat. Since there are no roads to Tortuguero you have to arrive via boat or airplane (baller status) and different from a lot of other popular destinations in Costa Rica, Tortuguero has a more laid-back, island-y, hippy kinda vibe. A lot of the businesses were small and locally-owned and it just felt a little more rústico y rural.Continue reading →