Thursday, August 15, 2013

One week

Well my peace corps experience has come down to this.  ONE WEEK before I´m back in the bustling country of the United States of America.  Nervous-yes, Terrified-not quite, Excited-you could say that. It´s really hard to know exactly how I feel.  I don´t think it has set in yet, and probably won´t till I´m a couple months in to being back in the states.  I´m trying to stayed focused on enjoying my time here and finishing up the stuff that must get done!

I returned from Argentina on sunday.  It was a great trip! So glad that I did it :)  So nice to spend time with Hannah and her family, see Pashu and Annie and meet new friends in Buenos Aires.  10 days was probably not long enough, as Argentina is soooo big!  I feel as though I got a lot accomplished in the 10 days that I was there.

I took a day to get my stuff organized back here in Ecuador.  Since I had left with my stuff all packed into a bedroom upstairs in Chino´s house, I decided to finally organize and pack.  I got two suitcases packed and have just one more to do at the end.  I am giving away a ton of clothes and hopefully will have room for things to take back from the states from here.

My friend Alvaro was in a car accident two nights ago.  Luckily he wasn´t that hurt but it was scary to see him in that state. We arrived at the scene to take care of the car as he was taken to the hospital.  After that I had to wait outside because only so many people could be inside.  They did tests and scans and found that 4 ribs had been fractured and that there was internal bruising.  Im hoping to go visit today.  He seems to be doing better but they need to keep monitoring him.

On friday I travel to Quito to do the last of my paperwork for Peace Corps.  I have an exit interview at 10:00 A.M. so I´m hoping to get the rest of the stuff done before that.  I am in the group of the last volunteers to be here in Ecuador.  It´s been great to see what the RPCVs (returned peace corps volunteers) are doing now that they are home. I´m hoping to have a smooth transition home and know that with the support of my family and friends it shouldn´t be to hard :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Next Steps....

So as my service comes to an end I've been really busy these last couple days.  I was able to get all my stuff out of my apartment. Just have to go pick up the gas tank.  They gave me almost all the deposit back and still owe me $30.00 but I'm not going to hold my breath..

All my stuff is now in a room upstairs at Chino's house.  In the meantime I've been putting things together for Mike to take, stuff that I'm going to give away and other stuff that I'll throw out.  Sadly there isn't a Good Will here so I'll need to find somewhere to give it away.  Chino's cousin works at an orphanage, so maybe Ill take the majority of the stuff there.

Had my birthday on Saturday.  Chino prepared a surprise party for me on friday night.  I had no idea!  It was nice to see people.  Then on saturday I went out to eat with Chloe, Shannon and Kerry.  Crazy to think that I've already completed 24 years of my life and now starting the 25th!!

Went to Sandy's last night with Paige and Kim. It was kinda like a going away party/chat session.  Got to see Sandy's daughter who is a couple months old and she's so adorable!!!  Paige will be leaving for the States on August 1st and wont come back till the end of August, so I said goodbye to her last night.  Kim will be leaving at the end of August, so I'll be able say goodbye in August.

I've packed up what I will take to Argentina.  Alvaro's parents sent some stuff with me to give to Pancho, there son that lives there that I will be staying with.  So that means that there will be plenty of space for me to buy some stuff :)  Im hoping I can find some nice clothes that are cheap! And of course load up on alfajoresssss!!!!!!

Will be coming back with only 10 days left in Ecuador.  Can not believe how fast the time hast flown by!!!   Excited about starting a new job, integrating back into U.S. life and figuring out future plans :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

less than a month!

Alright so the big news first of course!  I have a job back in the states!!!!!  I will be a HIV-Aids case manager working for the Aids Network in Madison.  I had two interviews with them and really a great connection with the people that I talked to in the interviews.  I think this job will help me grow professionally and personally as I learn new things about being a case manager.  This position will really feed my passion for working with and helping people living with HIV-Aids.

I will be moving back to Madison and staying with the lovely rents for as long as I need to adjust and find a place, probably a couple months.  Im excited to get back into madison and really explore the city more.  I def thought that it would be close to impossible to find a job from here in Ecuador, but it worked!  After all that time applying, doing interviews and waiting, I've found something that I think I will not only be great at, but enjoy!!
Yesterday I went on a paseo (trip) with our DIBESAU office to a place called Nariz del Diablo (Devil's nose)  We drove about 2.5 hours to Alausi where the train station was, and then took a train down about 500 meters to the valley of one of the mountains. There we saw a mountain that supposedly looks like the devil's nose (using a LOT of imagination).  Apparently the railway was one of the most dangerous train tracks in the world to make because of how it needed to be carved out of the mountain.  Over 2500 people died in the 2 year span of making 12 km of tracks.  This area also used to be the home of many condors.  Sadly after all the explosions and pollution from making the train tracks the condors died or left and there are no longer these birds in the area.  The indigenous called this mountain the condor's place.  Quite honestly the mountain looks more like a condor head than it does a devil.

After the train ride we had a lovely lunch in the town of Alausi and drove up to the San Pedro monument and took photos of the city etc.  On our way back to Ambato we passed the laguna de Colte, which apparently is one of the largest, deepest lagoons in Ecuador.  We also went into one of the first churches built in Ecuador (1534)!  We arrived back around 7 p.m.

All in all it was a great time to spend together. It was interesting though to see how Ecuadorian adult paseos have some things in common with Ecuadorian college paseos. Alcohol. We left the University at 7 A.M and by 9 A. M people were serving "puro" (moonshine).  Then on the way back several people wanted to stop in Riobamba to go out drinking!  When we decided to head back straight to Ambato, we had to make a stop so that they could buy beers to drink on the way back to Ambato.  It just amazes me that even as adults there always has to be alcohol involved.  Now Im not saying that people got completely drunk or anything, but this was a short day trip, is it really necessary that alcohol was involved???

Im starting the process of moving out of my apartment.  Trying to see if I can paint my apartment with my own money instead of the landlords taking out an unreasonable amount of my deposit for them to have it painted.  It will be the last stresser on my mind.  On wednesday I leave for Argentina.  I still don't believe that Im going but Im sure once I'm on the plane it will kick in, lol

After Argentina I will have about 10 days left in Ecuador!!! So amazing how fast the time has flown here.  Never would have thought a month into site that time would go by this fast.....

Thursday, July 4, 2013

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY...I will be eating sushi :)

And it is July.  Time is winding down and I am realizing all the things that I still have to do!!!

Next week I travel to Quito to do my medical clearance stuff.  Three days of pure fun...not...

Said goodbye to Natalie on tuesday.  Had an absolutely great visit with her.  So excited to see how her transition to Texas is. The job sounds fascinating and I really think it will help her grow professionally.

The day after she arrived (or rather the day she arrived-bc the flight was delayed until 2 A.M)  I had the privilege to receive a group of new volunteers.  About 8 of them came to my site for a "tech trip".  Each person had to practice giving different charlas in different health areas.  I was finally able to meet Courtney, one of the trainees was the person who donated money to our girls group several months ago. It was really nice to meet her and thank her personally.

Two PCT's did cooking charlas.  After getting things settled (because oficios were messed up and we didn't have rooms to work in) everything ended up going pretty smoothly.

I have had two interviews, one for a job in D.C and another for Madison.  Interesting jobs and great experience for interviewing.  As I probably mentioned before I am skeptical in actually getting offers just because I am not available until September, but nonetheless the interviews are great practice.  I'll keep at it and probably have to do more job searching after I get home.  My lovely parents have offered to give me posada until I can get "integrated", such great parents I have :)

Had a nice going away dinner with Sarah and Shannon as Sarah went back to the states on sunday.  We planned that they were going to come and make dinner.  10 minutes into cooking my gas goes out.  It was around 7:30 at night and at this time apparently there is not one place that has gas I spend an hour running around the neighborhood trying to find one. Finally found a place open by chino's house.  Once we got the tank all hooked up I realized that the keys that I grabbed don't work, so had to get the copies from the dueƱos...ahhh what a night.  We turned out having a great homemade italian meal and some good conversations.

Paid my last full month of rent and internet.  Planning a trip to Argentina at the end of the month and just trying to enjoy the last bit that I have here in Ecuador.  At times terrifying to imagine going back to the states, but then I remember how terrifying it seemed at times to come here.  I'm sure I can transition back into the country that I was born and raised, right? lol

Excited to have family time when I get back in August. Also trying to plan on how Chino will factor into U.S.A life.

ah and yes today is fourth of july.  Chino and I will be getting sushi to celebrate! yummmm

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

jobs, jobs and jobs

So I´ve been in the process of looking for, and applying to jobs.  I had about a two week span where I spent quite a bit of time on this.  I applied to a total of 5 and of those 5 one asked me for an interview, two have passed on my resume to the hiring manager and the others I haven´t heard from.

I had an interview for a job in Washington D.C and it went fairly well.  It was my first job interview in a long time.  We´ll see what they have to say in about a week.  I finally contacted Planned Parenthood because I applied on the 24th of may and according to their website the job is still available and my application materials are active on my profile page.  I called the PPH office in madison where the job is being offered.  The lady said it would be better to contact Milwaukee where they have their administrative headquarters.  So I called Milwaukee, the lady that answered transferred me to an HR person.  Well that lady didn´t answer.  I did what I could and left my name, why I was calling and my e-mail.  All of the people who answered the different phone calls were very nice and the lady that I left my e-mail with actually e-mailed me back!  She said that the hiring manager was on vacation and that my resume had been forwarded to who knows, I´ll have to try again next week to see whats up.  In that whole time I spent about $3.00 in skype money, which isn´t bad.   But it´s def harder to do this job stuff when you are thousands of miles away..I´ll keep at it, but I´m not super hopeful that anything will result in a job offer.  The good thing is I´ve had an interview and I hope at least one of the places that passed on my resume will contact me for another.  I need the practice!

Time is coming to an end.  I have my money to buy my plane ticket but just can´t decide when to leave.  It´s become so real now that I have to get my ticket...scary and exciting at the same time!  I also may be going to Argentina.  Well not maybe, it´s pretty much for sure, I just need to coordinate with Hannah (my friend that I will be visiting there) to fill out my vacation request form.  The PC director already approved me traveling internationaly (bc technically it´s not allowed the last three months).  So I figure I should go!!  I will probably be going the end of July, beginning of August.

The volunteers who said that they would buy some of my stuff as I leave are now saying no because PC apparently has everything they need.  Im hoping to maybe find other Americans that are working at the University for another program and see if they are interested.  I also need to talk to my landlord family about how we will do the payments for August since I will not be there the whole month...

Other than that it´s really a matter of wrapping stuff up.  I have one last project that I´m helping Fernanda with.  We did the application of a survey for the Jurisprudencia Facultad on their knowledge of HIV-AIDS.  The next step is to see the results and create different trainings-educational sessions on the things that the students did not score high on.  After that do the same survey and see how much their knowledge has improved.  Im waiting on Fer to send me the presentation so I can edit it.

Natalie comes on Sunday.  It has been so hard to get a hold of her to talk and schedule, and even today when we talked she was in the midst of taking down her classroom.  It will be good to have her undivided attention when she is here.  I think she really needs some vacation, with the process of a new job and moving.  She´s really got a lot on her plate and a nice vacation to Ecuador will do her well :)

Chino´s playing on the professional basketball team here from Ambato (Comunikt).  He hasn´t been called to play at the majority of the games, but today ¨le convocaron¨ .  So hopefully they will put him in for a couple minutes!

Sharon left on saturday.  It was sad to see her go and haven´t heard from her since, oh well, such as life.  It´s nice though to have Kim here for the summer.

I´ll sign off here!  Peace Corps newbies come on monday to do cooking demo with some University students.  Im excited to meet them and get to talk to them!

Monday, June 3, 2013

June post

It's June.  Only two months before I am home.  What's going through my head..hmm so many things. Im trying not to let them get the best of me because I want to enjoy what time I have left of Ecuador.  I need a job. I need to figure out where my relationship is going with my boyfriend.  I need to get rid of my stuff.  I need to say my goodbyes.

Life at the University is dwindling down.  Im there from time to time to check-in and say hi.  Im going to help Fernanda with her thesis project which is apply a survey about what students know in regards to HIV/AIDS, do trainings and then apply another survey and see what they have learned.  She chose to go to Quito this week for an international conference.  Apparently the certificate that she receives is way more important than finishing her project on time.  ohhh

The girls group is coming to an end.  We have our final presentation next week.  I think they will be ready. We made masks out of pizza boxes and skirts out of old sheets.  Last week we painted the scenery.  We've had some problems with the Director thinking we took his ladder (from wayyyy back when, when we painted the map).  So what did we do in return, we wrote him an oficio.  A nice long oficio explaining why it was no longer our responsibility and that we did everything the way we were supposed to.  He hasn't mentioned anything yet, so lets hope it worked.

Natalie is coming at the end of June.  Im hoping to get a solid conversation with her before she comes so we can plan a little.  She is so busy with finishing school and moving and what not.  Can't wait to see her in person though :)

Kim comes back this week to stay for the summer!  So excited to see her and catch up.

Looking for jobs.  Applied to a few places, hoping to get back an e-mail, at least for an interview.  Not sure where I will end up, most likely madison, but who knows!

Alright, late now, well only 9:20 but for some reason I feel tired.  I feel like I had a story to tell but now doesn't come to mind.  If it does I'll write again soon!

Friday, May 10, 2013

COS (close of service) and getting ready to go home??

I feel like time goes double fast on my blog.  I honestly thought it was just a couple weeks ago that I wrote, turns out it's been almost a month...

Well I just arrived back from our COS conference in Tumbaco.  In this conference we talked about returning home, all the work that involves finishing a government job.  We also had a couple sessions where they gave us some really good resources for job searching, interviews etc.

It was really great seeing the other volunteers.  Of the 61 that arrived in June 2011, we are now a group of 45 volunteers.  So fun to hear everyone's plans.  Everyone is really over all over the board in terms of plans.  A couple staying, one getting married to an Ecuadorian, many going back to work, some going back to do more school.  Our health group made a card and printed out some fotos for our program manager and Bibi, who was the training leader for us and now has moved to being the head trainer for all of peace corps ecuador.  There were tears, many of joy and agradecimiento (thankfullnes??)  After that everyone went to an italian place that served us all you can eat pizza, pretty good. Parmer, our country director gave us certificates and after a group of us went out in cumbaya to go dancing.  We had the place to ourselves seeing as it was wednesday, except for a few creepers, but lets be honest, that just adds to the ecua-ness of the night :)

Sharon and I then left on thursday around 4:30 AM to head back to Ambato for our girls group.  Ahh the things we do for these girls!  We assigned them their parts for our final performance of the little red hen and practiced the dance over, and over and OVER.  They are picking it up and as we start meeting twice a week I think things will really move along.

Today Sharon and I met to cut out the fabric for the little skirts we are going to make for the contra dance and so im hoping to drop off the stuff so Chino's grandma can sew together the elastic, etc..

I am leaving tomorrow for Santo Domingo to help out in a brigade.  This will be my second year with them and Im excited to see who they've brought in terms of a medical team.  After Santo Domingo things hopefully will go back to normal.  A couple days a week at the University, two days a week with the girls and preparing for my departure from ecuador.

Still hot here, hope home is getting warmer, but isn't too hot and humid when I get back :)