Sunday, January 30, 2011


The view from my room in St Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean (Carib-bean. not Ca-rib-bean)...  

View from Pigeon Island, St Lucia.

View of Pigeon Island, You can see Martinique in the distance in pic#4.

Palm trees on the beach.
Basically our own private beach near where we are staying for Pre Service Training (PST). 
Another pic of the beach. 
Tomorrow officially starts PST.  We were fortunate to have the weekend off to enjoy the beach and the town, and other semi-touristy things.  This is so surreal.  But right now it kinda feels like a mix between vacation and camp.  Im excited to get acclimated and integrated into the community in which I will be living in for two years, and really get to work.  As beautiful as this is, and how amazing its going to be and how excited I am to have this wonderful opportunity, a part of me still wishes I were in Lesotho.  All I can hope for is One Day I will get there.  Until then, I plan on making this the most remarkable, life changing two years of my life.

Upon arrival and meeting all the other volunteers, it has be clear to me, that i really didnt over pack at all.  In fact I was about 4 lbs less than the 80lb limit, not including my carryon, which probably was more than my checked bag! But anyways, there are so many things I wish I brought, and others I wish I left home. So that means, you should all send me stuff!!!

Well, Im tired and training starts promptly at 8am! Off to bed.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Im in St Lucia

I finally made it to St Lucia. Safe and Sound. And i just got two shots. Typhoid and Hep A. I was awoken by a rooster. Also took my first of many cold showers. It wasnt so bad. Its 85F and so beautiful. Everyone is pretty cool. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Im Losing My Sanity

Where do I begin??? Today has been the longest day of my life.  It really started about two days ago. I was so nervous I couldnt sleep.  Then I get a call from the airline at 6am on wednesday (24hours before my flight).  The flight has been canceled.  Presumably due to the snow (I had a lay over in DC).  Let me outline the rest....let me also preface this by saying Im running on 2 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours...

The Plan:
  • Part 1A-Fly from Albany, NY to Washington DC.
    • Part 1B-Fly from Washington DC to Miami, FL.
    • Part 1C-Fly from Miami, FL to St Lucia
    • Part 1D-Fly from St Lucia to St Vincent
    The New Plan:
    • Part 2A-Canceled due to snow. 
      • Possibility I will have to leave Wednesday instead of Thursday.  Oh No. Im not even packed.
      • Rebooked (wednesday morning around 10am) on a different airline for about the same time as original (6am thursday). This flight has a layover in Atlanta, so that I will bypass all the snow in DC. This is cleared up only after being on hold for about an hour, and talking to several different people, including PC reps and Sato (the travel agency) reps. No one knows whats going on...But apparently they figure it out.
      • Still supposed to get to Staging on time, no big deal. All is fine.
    • Part 2B-Atlanta GA to Miami FL.
    What Actually Happened:
    • Part 3A-Albany NY to Atlanta GA.
      • Get to Airport on Thursday morning (~4am). Go to ticket counter, I have a reservation but no ticket.  Ok? Guess they didnt figure it out. I explain the situation to the ticket agent, she tells me that the original airline might have it. Ok..
        • I go to original airline ticket agent, he tells me that the flight has been refunded.  Normally, it would just get switched to the new airline, no problem.  But because it was refunded, there was no ticket for me, even though they reserved the seat for me.  Basically, no one paid for the flight. So I couldnt get on.
      • Now Im on the phone with PC and Sato (the travel agency) trying to figure out the whole situation.  This takes about 1.5 hours and now I have missed the rescheduled flight. Awesome.  Now they are trying to find another flight.  Meanwhile, Im calling the Staging Coordinator, waking her up at 4am in a panic, then telling her all the changes and whats going on.
      • Finally by 630 am everything is squared away and I will be leaving at 1245pm from Albany NY to Atlanta GA.  Of course, now I will have missed Staging altogether. Oh well...
    • Part 3B-Atlanta, GA to Miami, FL
      • No major major problems, but I dont end up getting to the hotel until 8pm.
    • Part 3C-TBD
    • Part 3D-TBD...
    Good news, all my luggage made it to Miami.

    Im Actually Leaving

    Im actually leaving, with a few hiccups along the road (more on this when I have time), but I am leaving. Im super excited and super nervous!

    I somehow managed to fit EVERYTHING I needed and some things I wanted into my large duffel back and backpack, with a few pounds to spare to the 80lb limit!

    Thank you all for your support and very kind words! I love you and I will miss you! But it will fly by and Ill be back before we even know it!

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Challenges-The Name of the Game

    Well its quite obvious that the Peace Corps is challenging mentally, physically, emotionally, economically/financially, spiritually, and any/all other ways possible. But it doesnt just start becoming challenging once you step off the plane.  No, in fact it starts at home, from the beginning, when you make the decision to pursue volunteering with the Peace Corps for 2 years.  It starts with the application and the realization of what you are doing, or going to do, what you are sacrificing, albeit for a great reason, to pursue this challenging, and life changing experience.

    The latest challenge, that spurred this flood of thoughts, is packing--Packing everything I need, or think I need, into just 80 lbs. Well that and the realization that Im actually leaving in two weeks! Holy CRAP! Of course, if snow doesnt prevent me from taking off, that is. Anyways, I was talking with my mom today about all the seemingly random items I have packed and how much of that I will actually end up needing. I asked her what she thought I would actually use, what would go to waste, and what, if anything, I would write to her saying I needed instead. Hopefully I use everything I bring, and havent forgotten anything.

    My question is this: What do you think my biggest challenge will be? Whether its adjusting to the food, getting used to not having as many options for pretty much everything, or being homesick.  Please share what you think the biggest challenge will be in a comment at the end of this post!

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    80 lbs, Thats It!

    How do I pack everything I need for 2.5 years into just 80 lbs and into two relatively small bags?!?! Its a good question, and one I have yet to answer.

    And here I am again. At the same point I was about 3 months ago (my, how the time has flown by), wondering how and where to begin packing all the supplies I have/need for my journey. I think this time I am a little more prepared, only in the physical sense though.  Two weeks before departure last time back in October, I didnt have anything I needed yet and I hadnt even begun to think about packing.  Alternatively though, I was totally and absolutely mentally prepared to leave.  In fact, I think mentally I was already there.  This time around, I have everything I need (I think), except a sturdy pair of water-proof boots. My backpacking bag is coming in the mail soon..kind of excited (especially because its totally ballin and I got a great deal on it)! Yet, I do not feel mentally or emotionally prepared in the least bit. 

    Why is that so?  Is it because I have grown comfortable living at home with virtually no responsibilities, doing what I want, when I want? Probably. Have I grown a tough skin to prepare myself from disappointment again, thereby not allowing myself to get pumped or attached to any particular region/program?? Again, probably.  But why?  I do not know.

    These last 3 months have been a blessing in disguise and a curse.  It gave me more time to prepare and gather all the supplies I needed, even though I still waited til the last minute, but it also gave me time (and too much of it) to think about all the past (and future) events that have transpired or that I will miss.

    But of course I wait til the last minute to do everything.  There is still so much I need to take care of before I leave. I still need to finalize all my paperwork; power of attorney, health care proxy, student loan deferments, money matters (ha! you still need to do stuff about this even if you dont have any money! and probably more so!), immunization records, what else am I missing? Well anyways, I plan to finish all this up in the next couple of days, and begin to finalize my packing list.  I'll post that, and an update on my packing as its underway.  Im sure youll all be interested in how much of what I want to bring ends up staying here, because I have a feeling my luggage will be severely overweight. haha

    Funny how this blog goes.  Never thought Id be one to write so much of my inner thoughts, especially on a blog, let alone a post that is titled "80lbs", with the sole intention of explaining the difficult packing process.  Be that as it may.

    Where am I going? Your Guess Is As Good As Mine!

    Well lets see here...Its officially 3 weeks until my departure to Staging. I think (and hope) that its safe to say that I will definitely be going to St Vincent and the Grenadines, so a little info and facts about where I'll be living for the next 2.5 years:
    • St Vincent is a volcanic island in the Caribbean, apart of the Lesser Antilles island chain.
    • St Vincent is the largest of the chain of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
    • Located between St Lucia and Grenada; though Barbados is "close" and so is Trinidad and Tobago.
    • La Soufriere is a 4048ft active volcano on St Vincent, which last erupted in 1979.
    • Population is ~120,000. The Capital is Kingstown with a population of 19,300.
    • Literacy=88%
    • Unemployment=12-22%
    • Life Expectancy
      • Men=69
      • Women=74
    • Climate:
      • Mountainous
      • Well forested
      • Tropical humid (70-90F).
    •  Beaches have black and white sand. ~95% in St Vincent have black sand. But all beaches in the Grenadines have white sand.
    • St Vincent is 11 miles wide and 18 miles long.
    • Languages:
      • English
      • Vincentian Creole Dialect
      • some other native languages.
    • Major religions include (in descending order of percentage of population):
      • Anglican
      • Methodist
      • Roman Catholic
      • Protestant
        • Seventh-day Adventist
      • Hindu
    •  They have a national rugby team!
    So thats all I have for now.  I guess youll just have to check out my blog in a few more weeks to see what else I learn about SVG!