Sunday, December 5, 2010

Long Time No Blog

I've been ignoring a lot of the outside world the past few weeks in order to finish work for the microeconomics class I've been taking and apply to graduate school. Econ is done, grad school apps are really just getting started, so I'll probably be MIA for a while longer.

But I wanted to finally post a bit about the research trip I took to New Mexico and Texas about a month ago. I mentioned the U.S.-Mexico Border Colonias region a while back, and that's exactly where I went to do some interviews for a report I'm working on.

First I flew into El Paso, TX and got to hang out with my cousin and her husband during my downtime - I don't have any photos of the city itself, but it's a nice place as long as you don't accidentally drive into the border crossing area to Juarez which my cousin told me is easy to do and not so easy to get out of! I drove up to Las Cruces, NM where I saw a lot of this (try to ignore the little dots in all the photos, I need to fix them):



The Colonias

Subdivisions built by a local nonprofit we work with

Although most rural towns have trailer parks and neighborhoods with dilapidated housing, the colonias are entire towns made up of people living in such poor housing conditions.

After New Mexico I flew down to San Antonio, TX and drove about 100 miles towards the border. The particular county I visited has, as the county judge put it, "always been in a recession." Economic hardship is nothing new to this area - official unemployment numbers are over 15% and there are few jobs in the area. There have been some positive developments but the community is nowhere near becoming as prosperous as it once was during its agricultural peak.

The colonias in Texas are different than in New Mexico where the settlements can date back to the 1800s or earlier. In Texas many are new within the last 60 years as a result of developers illegally subdividing and selling land without infrastructure and often using the contract for deed system which allows the landowner to repossess the land after one late payment without going through the foreclosure process. Most residents are Hispanic (though not all, and most are here legally) who wanted to build their own homes and did so little by little - finding materials and adding on when they had the financial resources, so it's not uncommon to see mobile homes that were later added to, like this one.

A strange but not totally unusual site was a house like this:

next to one like this:

The local government and the office of USDA Rural Development along with local nonprofits have been working to get streets paved, and water and sewer installed. Here's a house Rural Development built, usually to replace an existing structure because it's easier to construct new rather than rehabilitate:

The going is slow and uphill to fix the problems inherent in the community - I was told that there isn't even decent housing for middle- and upper-income families which makes it difficult to attract professionals (teachers, doctors, etc) let alone new businesses.

My perspective on housing and regulations has definitely been altered from living in Nicaragua and visiting this region. Obviously it would be ideal for everyone to have a safe, healthy home. But by requiring building codes, many families cannot afford to build even a modest home and end up living in rental housing. So is it better for a family to live in a home that they are building themselves and are proud of, even if it doesn't meet code or for them to move into subsidized rental housing where they are not invested financially or emotionally? I have a story to share about that exact point but I'll leave it for another time. I guess what I'm getting at is that even issues like affordable housing are not black and white.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

That rally thing that happened last week...

It's been a week since the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. I started writing my recap earlier this week but somehow didn't finish it, however, I did promise one of my aunts I'd tell her all the details so here they are:

Group shot at the rally:

The weather was beautiful, I had great companions, and the show itself was very entertaining. We were extremely lucky in that I live walking distance from the mall so we rolled onto the mall somewhere around 11am I think. At that time it was full but not crazily so and we were able to make our way up within seeing and hearing distance.

I mostly have pictures of people on the jumbo tron:

I didn't realize until I spoke to other friends and coworkers just how lucky we were. A lot of people weren't able to get within viewing distance of the jumbo trons and the speaker system wasn't strong enough to reach all the attendees (estimated at 215,000 by the same people who estimated the Glenn Beck rally in August at 87,000). The metro was also out of control, my coworker came in from one end of the Orange Line and she told me it was an hour wait just to buy a metro ticket, let alone actually get on a train. Her photos are mostly of the lines at New Carrolton!

Apparently the rally broke Metro's ridership record (from a Desert Storm rally back in 1991) with over 825,000 trips taken. Many people wondered why Metro didn't increase service for the rally any more than they did and apparently that's because the organizers told the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) that they didn't expect more than 100,000 people, which also accounts for why the video and sound couldn't reach everyone.

But enough with the numbers.

We ended up sandwiched among people who had arrived early enough to set down blankets and camp chairs. People were super nice, offering spaces to sit on their blankets and sharing snacks and sunscreen. One of the ladies nearest me lives in California but is originally from a small town about 40 minutes from where I grew up in Minnesota!

The program itself was upbeat and largely focused on the media and political world's constant name calling and fear mongering (this went both ways on Democrats & Republicans, Fox News & MSNBC – obviously the crowd slanted to the left but the rally truly was not about one side or the other). This included the awards given out by Jon Stewart to people who, when faced with situations in which most people would have thrown a fit, remained calm and reasonable. Steven Colbert, on the other hand, gave out awards to those people who incited fear through news programming and other channels (it's been a week now and I can't remember many details anymore).

Ozzy on the jumbo tron:

There was also the musical battle between the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens singing Peace Train and Ozzy Osborne singing Crazy Train with Stewart & Colbert eventually finding common ground on the Love Train. And those of us on the Mall itself got to do the wave with the Mythbuster guys so that was pretty cool too (though I don't think that part was on TV, it was part of the pre-show).

The Wave:

That's about all I can think of to recap, the whole rally is online in segments so you can go watch whichever part interests you most here (I suggest Jon Stewart's Moment of Sincerity if you want to hear more about the Why behind the rally).

Some of my favorite signs:

Lastly, Jon Stewart implored people to donate to the Trust for the National Mall and so far they've raised over $180,000. Little known fact: Congress doesn't actually allocate enough money to properly maintain the mall so the Trust was started to fund the upkeep on the monuments and grounds.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Maybe not so different

If you remember correctly (and it appears many people do because I think this is the event in my two plus years in Nicaragua that people most like to talk to me about), I was without power for more than 50 hours after a storm brought down five power towers that were weakened because people were stealing the supports to sell for scrap. If you think that kinda stuff only happens in third world countries, think again. There were major delays for Amtrak trains between DC and Baltimore recently because someone(s) stole a good 100 feet of copper signal wiring to sell for scrap, which obviously caused some problems.

Speaking of things one would assume occur in Nicaragua and not the U.S., one of the projects I'm working on right now for work is a regional analysis and case study on the area around the U.S. - Mexico border called the colonias. This area is known for poor, oftentimes rural settlements called colonias (Spanish for neighborhood) where families live in near third world conditions. Each colonia is different, but there are some that don't have running water or sewer systems which probably wouldn't make much difference anyway because many of the houses are built using whatever materials the inhabitants can get their hands on. As they say in Spanish: Que pena (how embarrassing). More on that another day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Spa World

Waaaaay back in August, pre-surgery, I went on a little cultural outing with my roommate, Emiko, her friend, and her friend's sister-in-law. Emiko and her friend were both in Peace Corps in Kazakhstan where, unlike Nicaragua, it gets really cold. They had grown to appreciate regular trips to the bath house for a good, cleansing steam and had managed to find the equivalent in the DC metro area: the Korean spa.

There's a pretty decent-sized Korean community in parts of Virginia, so we went way beyond the reach of the metro to Spa World. From the outside it looks like maybe it's the world's biggest bath supply store situated in a regular old suburban strip mall. Just from looking at it I never would have guess what was inside.

When you pay, you're given a little orange jumpsuit and a fancy little electronic, waterproof key that will open the shoe locker right in the entry way. Next men and women head to their respective locker rooms where that key opens another locker and absolutely everything you have goes in and you're left wearing your key on its little bracelet and nothing else!

In the spa they have showers for rinsing, two saunas (hot and dry), a giant pool with many jets at various positions, and a couple hot tubs. The day we went the place was full of women of all ages and colors – clearly the Korean spa was not just for Korean ladies. After a while you get used to the fact that everyone's naked and just enjoy moving from jet to jet in the pool or steaming in up in the sauna.

We paid a little extra for a full body scrub (you can get massages, facials, etc) and I think it was well worth the money. They have a group of middle-aged Korean ladies clad in black lacy undergarments who direct you to a pink plastic table and the proceed to scrub off all your dead skin from head to foot (you can actually see the gross flakes of dead skin which is gratifying to know it's now gone but disturbing to know that your skin will eventually return to that invisibly dirty state). I'm pretty sure she scrubbed off much of the tan I had left from Nicaragua.

After lounging about in the spa area, we put on our little orange jumpsuits and went to the common area where men and women mingle amongst the seven rooms of various heat. If I remember correctly the hottest room was over 150 degrees so we started there and worked our way down to the ice room which was below 50. One room was full of little clay balls!

To finish off a day of converting our bodies to mush, we enjoyed a tasty Korean lunch before pulling our clothes back on over our now smooth-as-a-baby's-bottom skin and heading back out into the not nearly as relaxing world.

Photos were borrowed from various websites...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I was working on a blog post this weekend but I got distracted. Therefore, I'm going to post the thing that I got distracted by which, quite frankly, is way cooler than the thing I was gonna write about anyway. So I give you: the nearly 3 hour breakdancing competition I watched Saturday afternoon....(it's a yearly event, I went in 2006 and 2007 too)

Luckily Katie was as excited as I was and didn't mind sitting on the pavement all afternoon:

We called this guy Pirate B-Boy, I hope you can see his amazing facial hair:

During the warm-ups this kid was hiiiilarious, I think he was up after every other person to practice and usually fall down:

I had a really awesome video to post but I'm getting error messages and just want to go to bed, so that'll have to wait for another time!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Worlds Collide

I used to really enjoy writing about Nicaragua because I felt like I was sharing new and (at least to me) interesting knowledge about something very few of my readers knew much about. Now I live in DC and a quite a few of the people who read this live here too, or used to, or probably know something about it. But I'm going to write about it anyway because I find this city fascinating and there was a lot that I didn't know about it till I lived here and I'm sure much more that I'll learn about it in the future.

That said, the primaries for the mayoral election were on Tuesday. There might as well not even be another election in November because DC is so overwhelmingly Democrat that whoever wins the Democratic primary is basically the new mayor. In fact, I don't even know if there is a Republican candidate, although I'm sure there is one, let alone his or her name. Although most people polled thought that the present mayor, Adrian Fenty, did a good job in the last four years, the challenger, Vince Gray, won the primary and Fenty has conceded.

So for some reason, Tim Pawlenty - the governor of my dear state of Minnesota & a probable 2012 Republican contender for the presidency - chose this as an issue he should weigh in on?! I was surprised to see this article this morning in the Huffington Post with T. Paw's comments on Fenty losing the primary! I do enjoy when my worlds find new and strange ways to collide, but really?? Personally I enjoyed this line: "Pawlenty has proven to be quite adept at finding the epicenter of the spotlight of hot-button policy debates."

(If you don't want to read the article, the policy debate in question is the firing of a bunch of DC public school teachers by the chancellor of schools who Fenty brought in and backed up so the teacher's unions backed Gray & probably played a role in the demise of Fenty as mayor.)

Here ends Lesson One in DC politics. Stay tuned for someday in the future when I'll inevitably rant about the fact that DC does not have a vote in either the House or the Senate and why it's a big political uphill battle the change that.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Surgery #3 in Three Years

After a few hurdles, including the Department of Labor itself and getting the stupid IV in my arm, I had knee surgery on Thursday last.

My surgery was supposed to be covered by a workers compensation program which is administered by the Department of Labor (DOL). The scheduling lady who handles DOL claims at the doctor's office assured me that it usually only takes 48 hours for approval from DOL so the one week window I had before my surgery was fine. Well, I talked to her on Monday and my authorization still hadn't come though. Tuesday: same. Me: Freaking out. Wednesday I made some phone calls and got my case examiner and on her computer it said I'd been approved so she faxed a copy of that to the doctor's office and I was told I was good.

Thursday I arrived at the George Washington University Hospital (same place I went to have Betty removed) at 6am for my 7:30 surgery and was told they didn't have my authorization. Worst fear confirmed. I sat there waiting till about 6:50, slowly preparing myself to have my surgery canceled. Miraculously they got whatever they needed (some guy tried to explain it to me, but I was too busy finishing my paperwork to really pay attention) and off I went to have a resident and the head of anesthesia treat me like a pin cushion because of my tiny veins (I still have a bruise from one of three attempts to insert the IV!). At one point there were four people standing there watching and the resident said "I bet you've never had four people watch you get stuck with a needle before!" So it's not all seriousness all the time.

The most intriguing part of the whole surgical process for me is that every staff person asks what I'm having done and to what body part and then having the surgeon come in and write his initials on said body part so they don't screw it up. Obviously I'd prefer to repeat myself eight times than come out with the wrong leg operated on, or worse.

I think I confused the nurses or whoever was around as I was waking up afterward when I said (and I remember this vaguely) "I can't believe I fell asleep!" One of my finer moments of sleep talking.

So far so good on the recovery. They even gave me this nifty Cryo Cuff thing that I remember another medevac having after her ACL surgery:

You wrap it around your knee like so and use the cooler, which is filled with ice and water, to fill and empty the blue thing to reduce the swelling! I still don't really understand how it works, but to empty it you just connect the little hose and the water drains out, then you lift the cooler part above the brace thing and it refills it. Fancy!

I'm able to walk now, but for long distances (like to work) I crutch-walk and get funny looks from everyone along the way. I saw the physical therapist yesterday and have started some basic exercises to get the old girl working properly again in 4 to 6 weeks.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Lately I’ve been trying to approach my re-integration into US society like I approached integrating in Nicaragua. The advice I was given when I spent a couple days with a volunteer during training was to accept every invitation to dinner, birthday parties, whatever and go, regardless of how tired or freaked out I was. The past couple weeks I’ve made myself do something I’ve never enjoyed: go to gatherings where I pretty much only know the host. A lot of my friends in DC are random acquaintances so when they invite me places I used to either drag someone with me or not go. But I figured it was a good opportunity to expand my friend circle and put my small talk skills to work.

First I went to my college friend Emily’s End of Summer Barbecue. There was a possibility of other folks from our school showing up but no one did. I spent a surprising amount of time brainstorming ideas for one girl’s food truck vision (food trucks are the new lunch fad in DC, I haven’t tried one yet) for her amazing canned preservatives and other random food ideas. Later another girl and I tried to explain to a guy why asking girls out on the Metro isn’t such a good idea.

Next my old roommate Melanie organized a karaoke night so I met up with her and some of her mostly work friends early at a bar that was having trivia, but we didn’t play and instead got a lot of dirty looks and a couple comments because we were talking during the game. Beware of trivia geeks, they take that stuff seriously! I didn’t last long at karaoke itself mostly because my usual karaoke partner is in South Korea.

Lastly, I went to an iftar, which is the breaking of the fast at sundown during Ramadan. The group was almost entirely women, mostly lawyers actually, and they were fun to talk to and I didn’t feel weird being the only non-Muslim there. It also made me realize that Peace Corps has made me very practiced at being in new situations so I no longer really feel that awkward when I’m kind of the odd one.

I’ve also been packing in lots of social time because a) summer in DC is beautiful and come winter I may not want to leave my apartment and b) my knee surgery was just scheduled for this coming Thursday so I won’t be able to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather much for a little while. I’m having arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus (cartilage) in my left knee. I’ll have the long Labor Day weekend to recover so I should be fine to return to work the following Tuesday, hopefully without having to crutch the four blocks to my office. I’m not too nervous but any happy thoughts you feel like sending to my knee on Thursday at 7:30am EDT would be appreciated.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Triumphant Return to DC

It really wasn't that triumphant, I flew in last week right after a pretty serious thunderstorm (got to fly through part of it, that was fun) to a welcome party of one: my now roommate Emiko. Lots of people have asked me what it feels like to be back in DC and back working at my old job (I started on Monday) and the best way I can describe it is to say that it feels like I never left, which is both comforting and creepy.

I've returned to my little office with a view of another office building to continue on as a research assistant to a rural housing nonprofit. A rural housing nonprofit in Washington, DC??? you may say... well, yes. The organization acts as an intermediary between the government and local, rural organizations. We get mostly government money to support our activities which are a revolving loan fund, technical assistance and training, and research specifically to organizations working in rural areas around the country. There are several organizations that do this but my organization is the only housing intermediary that focuses solely on rural areas.

The biggest adjustment to returning to work has been sitting .... all day ... at a desk ... staring at a computer screen. So far I've been doing the usual editing stuff I used to do, we're waiting for the research agenda to get final approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which is where the money comes from. The one thing I do know is that I'll be working on a big report done after each decennial census. I love the census so I'm pretty psyched about that.

I had four days before work started, during which I had originally planned to run errands and buy clothes and other stuff I'd need for work. But I had Peace Corps friends in town (can't stay away for long!) so I hung out with them instead. My friend Dianne is from Northern Virginia so she came home with her site mate, Liz, and we went to Great Falls:

Dianne's mom had warned her to be careful, and it turns out she had a point - "The river has claimed another victim, don't be its next, if you fall in you will die."

I'd always heard about Great Falls when I lived here before but since you can only get out there in a car, I never went. It's very pretty!

With Liz:

Sunday we moved into our apartment (if anyone wants the address or my phone number just let me know). My plan was to buy a bed the way I did the last time I moved out here: Craigslist! But upon arrival I learned that DC, much like New York, is experiencing a bedbug infestation so buying a used bed was very much discouraged. I ended up at Ikea on Saturday trying to figure out how to buy a decent bed for less than $500 when Emiko texted me and said that her current roommate was looking to sell her nice, Certa bed fast and for less than $500! What luck :) So I'm mostly all settled, just waiting for my boxes to arrive, and as I type there are three guys building a wall to separate my room off (we have a one bedroom so my room is technically the living room). Once all that stuff is done, I can settle myself for real.

My last news is that I got the approval to move forward on getting my knee fixed. If you remember, when I was last in DC I discovered that I have a torn meniscus but opted to return to Nicaragua in order to get part of my Perkins loan canceled (which has also been confirmed!). When I got back last month I sent in paperwork to get knee surgery as covered under a part of workers comp and I just got the approval. This morning I scheduled an appointment with the same orthopedist I saw before for a quick follow-up and then I should be able to schedule the surgery.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Musings from Minnesota

Once my feet hit American soil I went right back to my busy ways, visiting friends and family and trying to ignore culture shock. It really hasn’t been too bad, and a lot of things that catch my eye are things that I would notice when I visited from DC as well: really big trucks, all the space, and mullets. I haven’t seen a huge number of mullets but this is rural Minnesota, they’re around. I’ve also found myself staring at shelves in stores trying to determine which of approximately 359 different types of toothpaste I should buy. The options in this country are mind-boggling.

But overall it’s been nice to be home, I’ve run into lots of familiar faces and enjoyed the loveliness of a Minnesota summer. I got out on the Mississippi not once but twice.

And ate smores fresh from the bonfire

And enjoyed a Minnesotan potluck. I know people do potlucks all over the country, but there’s just something unique about the hot dishes and salads and bars you find at a Minnesotan get-together. Unfortunately at our family picnic/potluck the tater tot hotdish got left in the oven on a farm a good 20 minute drive away (I still think it was intentional so they could keep all that tasty hotdish to themselves), but we had plenty of food anyway.

Beautiful afternoon except for some flies

I’ve also been spending a large amount of time indoors performing round two of Throw Away All the Crap! Before I left for the Peace Corps I tossed and donated tons of stuff. When I got home I was horrified to see how much stuff I still have so I’m again removing a decent amount of things from my possession, with much more brutality than before. I’ve chucked a lot of my school assignments but I’ve uncovered a couple interesting things that I want to share with the blogosphere before I share them with the dumposphere.

Dated January 7th, 1998 - which places me smack in the middle of 8th grade - I filled out an inventory in order to determine which career path would be best for me and my result was….. Science, Professional. Sample occupations include botanist, statistician, archaeologist (which was my chosen profession at age 10), and geographer! I also chose “Being famous and known for what I do” as one of the three job aspects that would be the most important to me.

Next I have some weird collage thing that is dated May 29th, 1996 which would be the very end of 6th grade. At age 12 I wanted to visit Washington, DC (check), Washington state (not check), and see some Mayan temples (check). I also wanted to be an archaeologist (not check) and do some writing (check right now!). My pet peeves were Jonathan (my brother), Heise (Jonathan’s friend), Spam (one of Jonathan’s obsessions that I had to eat occasionally), zits (no explanation needed), and chewing loud (still drives me nuts).

I’ve been told by a few people that I should keep writing in the blog, so I’ll do that either until my readers get bored or I get bored. Whichever comes first.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I am officially an RPCV, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer!! My official Close of Service (COS) date was yesterday, July 16th but because my flight left at 7am I finished everything up in the office on Thursday. When volunteers COS the tradition is to ring the bell in the office and the staff comes out of their offices and everyone cheers. We had three people who were flying early on Friday so we rang the bell together on Thursday afternoon:

My flights home on Friday went smoothly. I had a fellow-RPCV as a travel buddy for the first leg and I still just love his comment after we passed through customs in Houston and headed into the airport: “Let’s integrate!!” It seemed so perfect after being so focused on integrating into a foreign culture for two years we’re now back home and quite frankly, I do feel a little bit like I have to switch and re-integrate myself to American culture. And what better way to do that than to go to a big party?!

I was a little nervous about basically going straight from the plane to my cousin’s wedding reception but it was the perfect reintroduction. I got to see almost my entire family, enjoy fantastic food and drink, and danced my face off with my cousins, aunts, and even my grandma.

The fam:

Holy crap, American cake!!! (Nica cake isn’t nearly as sweet):

All the cousins minus one with my grandma:

Dancing our faces off:

Now I’m back at my parents’ house, exhausted and still adjusting to the familiar and yet strange surroundings. The plan is to move back to DC on August 4th and go back to work at my old job starting August 9th and I’d like to apply to grad school this fall for Urban Planning. So life marches on, I’ll probably keep writing in the blog as the mood hits me. I don’t think my post-Peace Corps life will be quite as interesting but we shall see about that.

Lastly, I bring you the massive list of 62 books I read throughout my Peace Corps service. Many of these were sent to me by my wonderful friends and family, but we also have a library of books at the office and much trading occurs among volunteers. My Top 10 are in italics:

Persuasion – Jane Austen
The Prophet – Khalil Gilbran
Beloved – Toni Morrison
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Next – Michael Crichton
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
No 1 Ladies Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith
A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway
Dreams from my Father – Barack Obama
Still the Mind – Alan Watts
Sula – Toni Morrison
Through the Arc of the Rainforest – Karen Tamashita
The Perfect Storm – Sebastian Junger
The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown
Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
The Mirror Crack’d – Agatha Cristie
Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer
The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Greggory
Love Me – Garrison Keillor
My Horizontal Life – Chelsea Handler
Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez
The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama
The Celestine Prophecy – James Redfield
The Devil in the White City – Erik Larson
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Instinct for Freedom – Alan Clements
A Case of Exploding Mangoes – Mohammed Hanif
Bonk – Mary Roach
Speak Peace in a World of Conflict – Marshall Rosenberg
Timeline - Michael Crichton
And Then There Were None – Agatha Cristie
Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
The Penguin Book of International Women’s Stories
Deception Point – Dan Brown
Before You Know Kindness – Chris Bohjalian
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
The Tipping Point – Malcom Gladwell
13 Clues for Miss Marple – Agatha Cristie
Tears of the Giraffe – Alexander McCall Smith
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon
Forever Ours – Janis Amatuzio
Middle Passage – Charles Johnson
Murder in Mesopotamia – Agatha Cristie
The Tao of Equus – Linda Kohanov
The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
Veronika Decide Morir – Paulo Coelho
Diary – Chuck Palahniuk
Twelve by Twelve – William Powers
Nine Stories – J.D. Salinger
The Zahir – Paulo Coelho
Collapse – Jared Diamond
Running with Scissors – Augusten Burrows
The Moving Finger – Agatha Cristie
A Caribbean Mystery – Agatha Cristie
Lamb – Christopher Moore
Three Act Tragedy – Agatha Cristie
The Murder on the Links – Agatha Cristie
Cards on the Table – Agatha Cristie
They Came to Baghdad – Agatha Cristie
Spider’s Web – Agatha Cristie
Caramelo – Sandra Cisneros
The Country Under My Skin – Gioconda Belli

Monday, July 12, 2010

Countdown: 4 days

I had a fantastic, and exhausting, last weekend in Nicaragua. Friday night I spent in Managua with a couple volunteers and two Nica friends who live in Managua. There was an artist at the bar who drew portraits for my friend Kat and me:

Saturday my friend Vera had a cookout at her house, she’s Nicaraguan but has residency in the U.S. and has been back for about a month to visit. When she’s in Nicaragua I get to see how the other half lives: her family has a nice house with a pool, we ride around in her Land Cruiser, and go out to some of the nicer places in Managua. Almost all of the people at the barbecue spoke perfect English to the point that I almost forgot I was in Nicaragua.

One epic grille out:

We watched the World Cup 3rd place game between Uruguay and Germany (Germany won):

And went swimming:

After the BBQ I returned to my recent home of Granada for one last fiesta. As our group likes to say, we danced our faces off:

“Jump on it”

And lastly, I dragged myself back up to Managua on Sunday noontime for the uber fancy Champagne Brunch at the Hotel Intercontinental. It’s pricey but worth every cordoba.


The World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands, pretty much everyone I know here was going for Spain so everyone in the restaurant cheered when they won in overtime:

I’m hoping to finalize more of my post-Peace Corps plans before I actually fly out on Friday. I know that I’m moving back to DC sometime in probably August, I have an apartment lined up with a friend from college and am waiting to hear about going back to work at my old organization as a researcher, which I should know shortly. If that doesn’t pan out then I’ll continue sending out resumes and bugging everyone I know about job openings. After the weekend I just had I’m definitely sad to be leaving my friends, but I’m still pretty psyched to see everyone at home.