This week I have been at a retreat for VMM held at the Sienna Center in Racine Wisconsin. The Sienna Center is run by and serves as a retirement center Dominican nuns ("Dominican" referring to the order and not the republic). I arrived Saturday and spent hours trying to transfer my airline voucher (from Christmas) to Betsy, one of the VMM ladies. (From now on, I will be willing to pay double to avoid flying United. Their service, or lack there of, has left me emotionally scarred.) Sunday, Heather, a new friend and belly dance goddess, gave me a tour of the sites of Racine and took me to a great place for lunch including the requisite cheese curds, sand dollars, brat and Spotted Cow Beer. She was amazing kind and went way out of her way for someone who is essentially a complete stranger.
The retreat has been very nice. It is technically an orientation, but since I have been in Central America for nearly three year (whoa!) and in the VMM position for about 7, it has been for me more of a retreat, BUT a very nice one. The sessions have been quite good and renewing and it is nice to meet the new VMs that are headed to South. David and Nancy, a couple from Wisconsin, Jennifer from the Carolinas and Danielle from St.Luis/IA are all looking to head to El Salvador for service. Danielle will be working in the SHARE office with me, (apparently she beat orphans in a past life.)
I am here today to close up and then tomorrow I head to Portland to hang out with MARIA!!!!!
On a side note.... as I have, from time to time, used the blog to specifically condemn some company whose lack of customer service merited my ire (United, Victoria's Secret), I thought I would take the opportunity to heap praise upon the Chaco company. Chaco sandals are not only comfortable, practical and the standard uniform for Peace Corps Volunteers and social justice workers but are also an amazing Colorado company. I wear mine pretty much every day through sand, mud, rain and rainforest, scorching asphalt and buses. I have clocked, easily, hundreds of miles. I have had them for 4 years. I have replaced the sole once due to simple wear and had NO problems getting them exchanged even from Costa Rica. Recently, I noticed that the soles were cracking and I figured that they had finally reached the end of their days. Not bad for four years of daily abuse. I mentioned this to Chaco and Joe Kaputa in Paonia, Colorado told me that it was a warranty issue and had a new pair sent to meet up with me in Portland. So, I am as ever, a walking advertisement for Chaco shoes, sandals or whatever else they would decide to sell. :) Thanks Chaco!!!