Friday, November 28, 2008

Final Post

The time has come. Three years, four months and twelve days after my departure from the US, I have returned... for the immediate future at least.

I returned to El Salvador on Wednesday. The bus from Guatemala City was held up somewhere between Tapachula, Mexico and the capital so we were three hours late in leaving. I got back and went right to bed. I spent the next days trying to get things wrapped up, packed and sold.

Friday night at about 6p, my friends Carlos and Gloria made me a tia to a beautiful baby girl, Camila Rosivel Sanchez Casteneda. I was thrilled to be able to meet her before I left. I spent Sunday hanging out with them in El Espino, and then Monday, began the goodbyes for real.

Monday night, my friends John and Nadia were married. I also feel fortunate to have been able to attend their wedding. I also got the chance to meet the Boltz clan. Things were flying by pretty quick so I am hoping to be able to make it out to San Fran some time and hang with them for reals.

Tuesday morning I had my last Salvadoran pupusa with my friend Hugo who had just arrived back in El Sal from Sweeden. We got to hang out just long enough to hug and catch up before I left for the airport. Armando and Raul (El Mae'tro) drove me to the airport.

So I arrived in Denver late Tuesday night which officially ends this round of Latin American adventures. On to job searches, culture adjustments and, I predict, freezing to death. Thanks to everyone that has kept up on my blog and shenanegans, I hope you have enjoyed the ride, as much as I have.

La Gringa Perdida, signing off....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Last stop....

I'm in Antigua, Guatemala. I grabbed a shuttle her on Sunday. I even got to ride co-pilot.

My friend Aaron from Grand Junction is here volunteering and studying Spanish. We have gotten to hang out the last couple of nights and it has been really great to catch up. Kinda feels like a torch passing. He is just beginning his Latin American adventures and I am wrapping mine up... for now. I head back to CO a week from today. It is hard to believe that I am goign to be leaving without a foreseeable return date. Bittersweet.

I got up early Monday morning and climbed the Pacaya volcano. It is currently active and errupting and you can climb right up to the top of it and get as close to the lava as you dare. Definately a country without liability laws. There was a spectacular view at the top that you could enjoy as long as you braced yourself against the wind. The wind was amazing, it nearly blew me off the hillside a couple of times. There were also a TON of people. I think there were at least 40-50 people there and this is the off season!

So I am here again tonight and then head back to San Salvador tomorrow. My how time does fly....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Copan, Honduras

I got up early Friday morning and caught the 7am ferry out of Roatan and am finally free of that obnoxious Alicia. She was such a pain, always holding my stuff while I was in the bathroom, keeping me company, splitting costs, laughing with me. Ugh! Good riddance!

I have also, sadly said goodbye to the ocean for the foreseeable future. Que horror. It's hard to believe that this Central American life I've had for over three years is coming to an end. It will take some getting used to.

I arrived in Copan, Honduras just before sundown, found my hotel and settled in. Copan is officially called Copan Ruinas because it is the site of some pretty impressive Mayan Ruins. I toured them yesterday with a group of Salvadorans. They were really pretty cool. I must say that the first half of the tour was more enjoyable than the second half because about halfway through I had to pee like a Russian Racehorse. My torture hit its peak when our guide showed us the Mayan bathroom but refused to let me use it.

I woke up this morning and then got a little bit of a panic. I was watching CNN and the ticker reported a 5.9 earthquake in El Salvador. I jumped up, got ready and headed to the internet cafe. I called Carlos and Gloria to make sure everything was okay. Carlos said they were fine, that it was "soft." He did tell me though that the senatorial candidate he has been working for was killed a couple of weeks ago. I didn't get much of the details because the connection was bad, but it was clear that he was killed violently. What a place.

I am taking a shuttle around noon to Antigua. My friend Aaron, from Grand Juction is there learning Spanish so I am going to hang with him for a bit before heading back to El Sal for the final, final goodbyes.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Calm, Cool and Collected

We spent two nights in and near Tegucigalpa. The first night in the city and then we met up with Rob (PCV from CR) at a Cathedral and then ate lunch with him in the cafeteria before heading to his site just outside of Danli, called Nueva Esperanza. Rob is working at an orphanage for HIV positive kids. It seems like a pretty neat place. We were only there for a few hours in the morning before we had to take the bus back to Tegucigalpa to catch another bus early the next morning. We had a lot of fun and a LOT of laughs. I met a girl that Rob works with that was at CSU the same time I was there. We even stayed in the same dorm! Small world.

We took the bus and then a really bumpy ferry ride (complete with staff members running around providing barf bags) to Roatan, one of Honduras' Bay Islands. It is really a gorgeous place. Most people come here to get diving certified, which is exactly what Alicia is doing, as it is one of the cheapest places in the world to do it. I opted not to as I am not sure that it is something I will do much of in the future. I am sure that will guarantee that at some point in the future I will have wished I had taken advantage while I am here.

We got in pretty late Sunday night and grabbed a hotel room in the middle of a blackout, which meant that there was no power or water. Not a big deal. The second day though we decided to switch hotels and are now staying in a magnificent place that has a hammock and a view of the ocean. So I am happy as a clam. I got a thai yoga massage this morning from a woman that lived in Carbondale for a while. Random! She had also lived in BC Canada, so there was lots of connections being made. Craziness.

So we will be here for a few more days. Then it looks like the UnMission will be split. Alicia is going to head to her beloved Belize and I am going to go to Copan, Honduras before meeting up with a friend in Antigua, Guatemala and then back to El Salvador. It will be a rough parting. We thought it would be easier... we thought after spending so much time together, our fair well would sounds something like "I hope you get bug bites..." but it looks like our friendship has survived and our reconciliation tour will be unnecessary and a reunion tour will suffice.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Still Ridin' the High


Amazing night. I've been looking at my country from afar for over three years now. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not so good. Tuesday night it was great. There are no words. It's difficult to explain to Americans what America looks like from the outside. It's difficult to explain to Americans why what we do, matters outside of America. There is nothing in the US to compare to the influence and presence that the US has in other countries. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not so good. We talk about justice and equality and freedom and opportunity and then every once in a while, we actually do it. It's just the beginning. Now the real work starts and it is going to require every single one of us standing up and taking responsibility to work toward being something great again. But now it seems, once again, anything is possible.

We hopped on a bus 3 am Wed morning and arrived in Managua at about 11am. We are hanging out with a couple of other VMM volunteers Christine and Laura. They have been working at the Batahola Community Center for the past year. The center seems pretty amazing. It's a quick visit, we head out again this morning at 11. But I am glad we got to stop in and put their work and stories in context.

Tonight we will be in Tegucigalps and hang with Rob Orton, fellow RPCV. We will go to his site tomorrow and then , the new, latest plan is to head on to the Bay Islands and hole up on the beach for a few days.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

In Chepe for Obama

I am back in San Jose at the Hotel Aranjuez, a personal favorite of mine. We spent two nights in Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. Puerto Viejo is a nice place, the coast is beautiful, lots and lots of tourists though. We went ziplining on Sunday morning. It was a lot of fun. It was the most beautiful one yet. The jungle on the Caribbean coast is amazing. We were at least 100-150 ft above the ground on a couple of the runs. We saw a howler monkey and a toucan. It was my first time to see a toucan so I am glad I got to see it before I say goodbye to Costa Rica again.

Now we are back in San Jose. I have some errands to run today and am going to hook up with the few friends still in San Jose. Actually, I think we are going to go to a skeezy gringo bar tonight to eat good ol' American burgers and watch the election results with a bunch of current volunteers. It'll be interesting to see if I still know any of them.

I picked up Obama's book Dreams From My Father. It was really an amazing book. Honest, insightful, intelegent, compassionate, inspiring. It has actually helped motivate me to write my grad school essays. Made me remember that I used to have hopes for making the world a better place too. If he weren't running for president I would be wishing he was. Course, I'm not sure how I feel about having a literate president. Might take some getting used to. hehehehe....Anyway, get out and vote if you haven't yet. It's a big day for America!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

One down, six-ish to go

We followed up a very bad hotel experience with an amazingly good one. We stayed at the Bocas Inn in Bocas del Toro Panama. We had an INCREDIBLE view of the water right outside our window as well as two hammocks from which to gaze at it. We spent two days there, doing a whole lot of not much. It was wonderful.

We left Bocas on Thursday, took a wet water-taxi ride to the mainland and then two more buses to the border. The border between Panama and Costa Rica is a river which you are able to walk across over a rather dilapidated bridge complete with haphazardly placed wooden planks. So we officially mark one country off our list and have landed safely in Costa Rica. Two more buses and we arrived in Manzanillo, a very small Carri bean town at the end of a rough dirt road. Manzanillo had been on my list of places to see that I didn't get around to while I was living here. It is beautiful. I managed to get myself up and went for a run yesterday morning. We spent another two nights there, enjoying the jungle and beach. This morning we took the bus into Puerto Viejo and are going to spend two nights here. We are going to go zip-lining tomorrow, swinging through the trees like monkeys.

Things are good. AS a side note, while traipsing through Central America, I am also trying to get references and essays together to apply for grad school. This is a not an application tactic I would recommend to anyone else as it is hard to wax poetic about my future when all I am really interested in doing is staring at waves from a hammock. Hopefully though, I will be able to talk someone into letting me into their program.