Monday, June 23, 2008


This is quite possibly the coolest thing I have ever seen. I got goosebumps....

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Village Vibes

I wanted to post an email I got from Adam Johnson, he was a PCV I served with in Costa Rica that re-upped and is now working on health projects in Guinea, Africa:

Sidiki here in Kankan on a rainy Saturday morning. The streets have turned into streams and the market is full of avocados and mangos.
I am not aware of what the vibe is like in the United States, considering the nomination of Obama, but I wanted to let you know that here in the village of Missamana, and in Guinea in general, the people cannot stop talking about the issue and they are so interested and energetic as they discuss the possibility of him being the next US President. They are not fully aware of his issues, or any of the USs issues for that matter, but his energy and message of hope, in the US and for the rest of the world, has really given them a lot of motivation and positivity. Obamas running is symbolic, and what a great symbol for America, for Africa, and for the rest of the world, which, for the majority, is a mixture of ethnicities and those whom have neighbors from all different backgrounds; there are six major ethnic groups that blend together within the borders of Guinea. I truly want to share with you the magic that is felt here in the village when Obama news comes through the radio via the BBC. He is truly causing a movement here, a movement of positivity and hope in a place that is crippled by corruption, poverty, poor health and lack of resources. I wish I could take you all for a walk through the village, through Kankan, and through Conakry because shouts of Obama are ringing through the streets.

Thanks AJ!

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fresh Coconut

Here's some pics of Danielle and I enjoying fresh coconut in Las Pampas. Then a video demonstrating how to go about getting fresh coconut.

CDH Delegation

I spent the better part of the last week with the Cretin-Derham Hall (High School in St. Paul, MN) Delegation. I would have spent more time with them but Danny forgot me (last time I swear!). They were a really great group of kids and I had a lot of fun with them. We spent the weekend in Las Pampas, San Vicente.

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We all stayed with families in the community. On Sunday we went for a hike on the volcano. The kids got a kick out of the name of the volcano, Chichontepeque, which is a twin peaked and whose name translates as "Big Titty Mountain".

We came back to the city on Monday and were sad to leave our families but relieved to use indoor toilets and showers. Not to mention the chance to begin nursing heat rashes and other chaffing issues. On Tuesday the kids went to an urban parish while I checked in at the office. I met back up with them in the afternoon for soccer and then we met with Rick Jones (Bia*%), the Regional Director of Catholic Relief Services. Rick is amazingly knowledgeable about Salvadoran issues and reality and is always a big hit with delegations and delegation leaders. Tuesday night we wrapped up with a final reflection at the guest house and then wrapped things up with a Merengue dance Par-tay.

All in all it was a lot of fun. It was a joy to see the kids discover El Salvador and what makes this country amazing as well as heart-breaking. Danny was the official delegation coordinator, with Danielle in training. Danielle (new VM to replace Danny) has been in the country for just about two weeks now and is bringing new meaning to the phrase "trial by fire." The first, oh, month and a half of her move to El Salvador will be filled with three back to back delegations. I would not be surprised to see her rocking on a couch blowing spit bubbles by August. I'll keep you posted. So that left me in a support role which means that I took care of the fallen soldiers, held their hair while they yacked, walked em down the mountain, talked about the Tao, gave the smack down when necessary (tough love), but primarily threw in cynical, crass, sassy commentary when applicable. Which was often, and really, I think, my calling.

We have another delegation here this week. Poor Danielle is already hitting it again. I will be minimally involved in this one leaving me time to work out the final details on the Youth Delegation that will be arriving in the first part of July.

Click here for more pics from delegation

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Portland Bubble

I made it back from Portland last night. Great week, went way too quickly. As usual.

I stayed with Maria. She left Vesta in Costa Rica and headed to Portland. Safe, clean, reliable public transportation, yoga, organic vegetarian food, bikes, recycling, thrift stores, indie music…she couldn’t be happier, well, maybe just a tiny bit if the weather were sunnier. I also hung with Ian in his natural environment; dogs, bikes, breweries, gloom and dive bars. Yeah! We hung out just long enough for him to get all emotionally attached and then I cruelly left him at the airport... again, but not before partaking in sushi (Amazingly yummy sushi, I might add.) hehehehehe!

We made pupusas for some of Maria’s friends, Aaron (RPCV from Honduras), Lauren and Brian. Brian is in a band (mejor dicho: IS a band) that is pretty great and going on tour this summer. Check him out: American Nobody.

We reunited with don Clos. (Oh the memories.)

We went on a tour of the Rhodedendrum gardens with Aunt Kathy and Uncle Rod. The flowers were gorgeous and Kathy and Rod are always a blast to hang out with.
I hung out with Ian and Makai (dog) at the Lucky Lab a brewpub that allows the four-legged friends. (Only in Portland.) I checked out Portland State as a possible grad school in the future. It fared quite well. I took a tour of the campus and simultaneously broke in a new tour guide. The poor kid, I felt so bad for him. He was SO nervous. He kept saying things like “We are going to go somewhere else now, but I might not remember how to get there.” Then turned around and ran full on into a closed elevator door. We did our absolute best to not laugh out loud. We were moderately successful.

Katie Questions, Me, Maria, Jon "the Rock" and some street art.

We hung out with some Peace Corps People Thursday night and went to Last Thursday. Last Thursday is when artists and enterprising eclectics line a street (don’t remember which one) selling their wares. This happens on the (ready for it?) last Thursday of every month. We did some hoola-hooping and bought buttons:

I don’t know what it means but I think it is funny.

We rented zip car on Friday and were two big, giddy dorks. Zip cars are pretty friggin’ cool. It is basically a share care for those that do not want to own a car but need to use one every once in a while. The coolest thing about them is that you lock and unlock the doors by holding a card up to the windshield. We drove out to the coast (Goonies territory) and hiked out to this amazingly beautiful overlook in Oswald West State Park. We even saw “barking, sea creatures” which were later identified as sea lions. We also saw snails, slugs and snakes which were less fun for us to see, although probably quite amusing for anyone who happened to see us see them. We dipped our patas in the ocean, and promptly took them out again. Same ocean, big temperature difference.

And then it seemed, as quickly as it had begun, I was back on a plane to El Salvador. I was relieved to be able to land okay as there had been a tropical storm warning. The hurricane that hit Costa Rica and Nicaragua was “only” a tropical storm by the time it got here. So, the rain is officially here, kicking off another moldy-never-dry-clothing season.

Tomorrow... back to work. Ick.

Que Rico

I am home now and can add some pictures. Here are some from Wisconsin. I took shamefully few, but they make up in quality what they lack in quantity, and may also be quite revealing of my motivations. :)

This one's for Alicia. Spotted Cow Beer and a bath... does it get any better?

Here's one of me in front of the best bar ever. How do I know it's the best bar ever?.....

Cuz it says so!