A $5,000 Grant: Developing a Rural Tourism Site

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.

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#FoodFriday: Oh-so-Easy Coconut Milk

I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW I just did a #FoodFriday blog last week.  I usually only like to post one per month, but this week I made my own coconut milk from a FRESH coconut and I just need to share it with the world.

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…and kick myself because it’s SO easy. How have I been here for two years and not made this before?! Shakin’ my head.

Let me tell you how it all started… Continue reading

#FoodFriday: Chilero (Costa Rican Hotless Hot Sauce)

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In any “soda” (a restaurant where you can find comida tipica / classic Tico food) here in Costa Rica, you’re bound to find a massive jug of what looks like pickled vegetables on the table. It’ll be loaded with different colors, flavors, and spices and probably look as though it’s been sitting there for a few days–or even weeks–and chances are it has.

Que rico.

Before I get into what chilero is let me just say that this is MY recipe and how I learned to make it, so I don’t want to hear anything about how ohhhh it needs vinegar, or this or that vegetable, or that your host auntie makes it different. This is TALIA’S recipe so lay off. Continue reading

Family Vacay, COS, and My Parasite

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.

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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

What’s Peace Corps Like in Tanzania?

Meet Jenn.

Meet Jen

Jenn is a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Tanzania and she is just two months away from completing her service! Way to go Jenn!

Above, Jenn is standing behind her house wearing a tradition ‘kanga’, a skirt/wrap that her host mother made her, while holding a jembe, which is a widely-used farm tool that locals use to garden and manage crops.

Today, Jenn is going to share with us her experience working and living in Tanzania! Continue reading

Long Distance Relationships: Insight from 8 PCVs

It’s February and love is in the air! Sadly, for many Peace Corps Volunteers in long distance relationships, that’s exactly where it’s going to stay.

Making the decision to enter a long distance relationship (LDR) while serving abroad is no easy task. Let’s face it, deciding to join the Peace Corps in general isn’t an easy choice — two years living in a foreign country, immersed in a new culture, speaking a new language — it’s all a little overwhelming but hey, why not add more fire to the flame and make things even more complicated?

And that’s just what we did.

With the help of a few fellow PCVs and LDRers here in Costa Rica, today we’re sharing some of our greatest tips, advice, and our own personal experiences on being in love while being abroad. Continue reading

JumpStart & My Mini English Camp

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.

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Ed & Darrel’s Jumpstart English Camp Group

What is JumpStart? Continue reading

What’s Peace Corps Like in Guatemala?

Over five years ago Jeanne served as a Youth Development Volunteer in Guatemala. Today, she shares her experience with us and the incredible projects she worked on in her community!

When and where did you serve in the Peace Corps? Did you get to pick your country?

I served in Nebaj, Guatemala from 2011-2013.

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From 2011-2013, I served in northwestern Guatemala in the picturesque Maya Ixil town of Santa Maria. At that time, you could not pick your country, and were instead “worldwide available”. However, since I was in the application process for over 2 years (applied first with my husband and then on my own), my recruiter and I got to know each other really well! So, when it came time to nominate me on my own as an infamous SWOS (serving without a spouse) candidate, he gave me the choice of a region, and I picked Latin America.
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#FoodFriday Chi-chi-chi Chia Pudding

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.

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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

Christmas In Fila Naranjo: Round Two

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