Archive | May, 2012

Second Stop of the “Good-Bye” Tour: Atlanta

30 May

(The tour kicked off with the first round of good-byes in Orlando two weeks ago.)

I was in Atlanta Sunday through Tuesday, trying to fit in as many visits with friends and family as possible. We had a BBQ at my dad’s on Sunday, spent Monday afternoon at Piedmont Park and even found time to go to the historic MLK memorial (none of us had ever been). Most importantly, there was no shortage of hugs, kisses and well-wishes from everyone I got the chance to spent time with.

Piedmont Park with dad 🙂


MLK + Coretta Scott King

Whenever I hear Ray Charles’ “Georgia on My Mind”, it always reminds me of how much fun I had visiting Atlanta as a kid every summer.  Even as an adult, there is always something new and exciting to do. The city is such a special place…if you’ve never been, definitely plan a trip soon.

Next stop: Austin.


Sneaky Sneaky

29 May

Memorial Day Weekend was officially my last weekend in Miami before I leave for staging.  Since I was basically done with packing, I decided to meet some friends out on Friday night.  Little did I know… they were coming over to surprise me with balloons, a cake and a veryyy generou$ gift card.



Thanks to everyone involved: Ramon, Angela, Diana, Jenny, Carla, Jorge, Gaby, Cristi, Dolly, Sonia, Evelyn, Heka, Becca, Claudia, Elena, Sophia, Jessi Jo and Even.  You guys have been an amazing support system thus far.

No dice.

24 May

Long story short– the phone-in-the-rice trick did not work.

Long story — I left it in the bag of rice overnight and this morning it was as good as new! For about 20 minutes.  Then it died. Not one single functioning key.



The good news is I was able to save all the pictures from the media card/phone memory.  That’s really what mattered most. And I was able to get a loaner phone for the next two weeks so…text me!  🙂



Dinner & Drinks & A Bag of Rice

22 May

This past weekend, two of my girlfriends and I made the five hour trip to Orlando to meet up (and say good-bye to) Angela, Evelyn, Aneesha, Jazzy and Ty, whom I hadn’t seen in a while.  It was a last minute decision to go, since I’m kind of strapped for cash, but I’m glad I did.  You can’t put a price on great memories with wonderful friends!

We spent most of the weekend lounging around  and catching up, with the exception of Saturday night when we mustered enough energy to get dolled up for dinner and drinks downtown.

just like the old days.

In unrelated news, my Blackberry is currently sitting in a bag of rice.  On my way to Wal-Mart earlier today, I was caught in the middle of a torrential downpour.  Even though the phone was in my pocket as I ran into the store, somehow it managed to get soaked and now the keyboard isn’t working. I knew there would come a point when I’d have to detach from my Babyberry, but this is not what I envisioned!

I’m hoping the let-it-dry-in-rice trick works…or the next two weeks are going to be a little complicated.

please work?


Did I miss the memo?

16 May

I must have missed the memo/blog post/handout/book that talks about how nerve-wracking the weeks before staging are.  Everything I’ve read focuses on your experience once you arrive in your new country. No one seems to talk about the anxiety or nervousness associated with detaching from your life.

“You must be so0000 excited!” – Everyone

I am!

But also…kinda freaked out.  Since I stopped working a few days ago, the reality of my departure reallyyy started sinking in. I’m seriously leaving for 27 months. What will the life I left behind be like without me?  What does my new life have in store?   Then I realized–I need to relax and enjoy the present moment here and now.

So I’ve been spending lots of time doing the things that make me happy:

spoiling princess gia.

trips to the park with gracie.

Other fun things I’ve been doing in between packing:

  • hitting the gym every day
  • meeting friends for lunch
  • looking for the best deals on sleeping bags and mp3 players



10 May

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark. In the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all, do not let the hero in your soul perish and leave only frustration for the life you deserved, but never have been able to reach. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is posisble, it is yours.”

Ayn Rand

Today was my last day at work.  My company is closing, coincidently around the same time I’m leaving, so this actually gives me the next two weeks to get all my ducks in a row before staging. As I cleaned out my desk, I came across this Ayn Rand quote I taped next to my computer screen. Every time I read it, it made me wonder– what do you really want out of life, and more importantly,  how can you make it happen for yourself?   Don’t be lulled into complacency by the comfort of your current lifestyle. If there is something you yearn for, do not let your spark die.

Peru #19 Training Group

9 May

Now for a REAL staging update! I received two important emails in the last two days….

The first came from Rosa, the Language and Culture Coordinator, asking to confirm dates for a preliminary assessment of my Spanish level via telephone.  Born in Colombia, raised in Miami, and working directly with Hispanic media for the last two years, I have a feeling I’ll do juuuust fine. I wonder if there will be any other native Spanish speakers in my group? A therapy session conversation with a great friend (here’s your shout-out, Poffle!) reminded me that I’m pretty lucky to be headed to a place where I am fluent in the language.  Where spewing out broken French during my six month study abroad stint in Paris was all fun and games, I’m sure a major language barrier would add stress in every aspect of settling into the Peace Corps.  I’m here as a resource, my fellow trainees!

The second, much anticipated, email came from the Staging Unit.  Just as I had predicted, staging will take place soon after I land in DC on June 7.  After a day of activities and presentations, Peru #19 will be headed to Lima on June 8 at 11am!







Thanks, Win Williams

8 May

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Wherever you are.

I came across Win William’s Peru blog randomly, while perusing the Peace Corps Journals site.  And what a blog it is! I’ve been literally laughing out loud going through his entries.

Here is one golden excerpt from his post titled Worm Bins:

On Saturday we built worm composting bins to help with disposal of organic materials. I haven’t really seen it too bad here but in some areas people just throw all their shit in a kind of make shift dump or burn the stuff out back. Worm composting is not some hippie bullshit but a practical way to dispose of organic materials and convert them into a usable product like liquid fertilizer and nutrient rich soils. According to some statistics, over 50 percent of landfill space is organic materials.

 The way the worm bin works is you throw in a little soil or manure and then just add organic waste, like egg shells, peels, leaves, things like that. Throw in a couple of worms and they eat through all that shit crapping out nice fertile soil which you shake out and use in your garden. Another benefit is worm piss (the other black gold) which is rich in nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. Not only that but you’re saving valuable landfill space and keeping the backyard free of debris that attracts pests. OK maybe it is a little hippie bullshit sounding.
Post after post, Win describes his sometimes unfortunate, sometimes enlightening, but always hilarious experiences as a middle-aged gringo serving as a water sanitation volunteer in Peru. This is just the kind of funny and encouraging testimony I needed to encounter, after a few days of anxious restlessness. Yes, it is a lot to leave my whole life behind and move to another country I’ve never been to BUT I signed up for this adventure.  I can only hope that by focusing on the positives and making light of uncomfortable situations I, too, can have as much fun as Win did during his two years as a volunteer.

Staging Update

6 May

Sort of…

Staging is the initial orientation where you are introduced to your training group members and take care of some last minute trip details. Everyone meets in a predetermined US city (still don’t know where yet) to spend 2-3 days learning about your future home country.

For some reason, I had been thinking that staging lasted a whole week.  According to the Peace Corps wiki page, its 2-3 days.  And after talking to a returned volunteer, she says hers was only one day–one long, full day!

This came as a shock to me, although I’m not sure why.  I guess I thought there would be more time in the US getting to know my training group and preparing for our Lima departure. Not the case at all!  Apparently, it’s an extended, activity-filled, information-packed layover on our way to Peru.

So that’s the update — I’ll probably be in Lima as early as June 8 or 9. …!

P.S. – spent some time today snuggling my little gracieee

Babysitting with Beyonce

5 May

Today I woke up early with the intention of being productive. I planned to return some items to Best Buy, shop around for a sleeping bag and start a serious packing list.  Instead, I babysat the neighbor’s adorable (and energetic) 6-and-11 year old daughters.  We ate, sang Beyonce songs and painted our nails.  I explained to them that I’d be leaving soon to tutor kids in another country and they promised to look over Gracie while I’m gone. Gracie will love that!

I’m exhausted and behind on my ‘to-do’ list but so glad I got to spend some time with my little friends.  I hope they’re still as sweet and innocent when I get back.

I leave you with (one of) my favorite Beyonce songs to sing at the top of my lungs: