Yes, I am still alive, although my blogging history wouldn't vouch for that fact. In the past 3 or so months since I've updated, lots of things have happened... Mom and Dad came to visit in March, I went to California to visit Stanford and Elisabeth in April, and I have been working like crazy in my site. I can't believe I am almost done! These last few months are really flying by.
A big new group of volunteers began working a few weeks ago, and I had the luck to get one of them just for me :), so now I have a site partner who will continue to work in my town for the next two years. His name is Dave, and he is a social worker who is, coincidentally, also from Iowa. What a glorious state. :)
We sort of made international news last week when a big tropical storm (Alma) hit and did a lot of damage all over the country. Some volunteers have been evacuated from towns that have been nearly destroyed, and a lot of the major highways are blocked by mudslides/avalanches. In my town, we were experiencing a major drought so bad that about 500 cattle died and they were worried about a big public health crisis (disease spread, etc.). The problem is that there's no aqueduct system and the really poor people use these very shallow dirty wells, which dried up after an unexpected month of no rain. The national water ministry has been sending out trucks with water tanks for the poor people to go fill up every day. People here keep saying we are in the "end times." Kind of scary.
I had a fun incident happen yesterday when I got home from work, about to head into my bedroom (which I keeped locked with a key), when my host parents informed me that, no, I would have to wait a few hours, because they chose yesterday as the day (for the first time in 6 years) to pump out the septic tank at our house, which, incidentally, as I learned yesterday, is located right at the door to my room. After a few rancid-smelling hours, I was able to enter my room, only to encounter the floor covered in a wet, bad smelling liquid whose color I will not describe here. Wondrous.
In another piece of news, I decided about a month ago to attend Yale Law School this fall, after months of agony which usually accompany my decision-making. I will be back in the States in August to move out to Connecticut on August 27th for the first day of orientation.
Tomorrow about 8 volunteer friends and I are heading to Panama, the last sightseeing trip I have planned here. Because of our tropical storm, the main highway is closed due to landslides so we will be taking the "long route" on the coastal highway (Pacific Coast) which apparently will add another 12 hours onto an already 17 hour bus trip. Funnn. Pray for our safe arrival in Panama City on Friday. I heard that this coastal highway, La Costanera, is like one big fun traffic jam because of the highway blockage situation, and it is unpaved and has lots of one-lane bridges. And now apparently many beggars from towns hit hard by the storm come up to cars on the road asking for food. Wish us luck.
If all goes according to plan, we will spend two nights in Panama City and three nights at the San Blas Islands, which are in the Caribbean and are inhabited by indigenous people. It is supposed to be quite beautiful. And I'm excited to see the canal.
In work news, I have been doing my usual projects--self-esteem preteen girls group, school drop-out prevention, English classes, etc. plus lately I have been working on writing a grant to expand the Children's Center where I have spent a lot of time.
Also, we're planning a national youth conference for July (I'm on the organizing committee). As it turns out, we are in need of monetary donations to buy the materials we need to make the conference happen. If you want to donate, I would really appreciate. Here is a little description of the project:
The conference, "Building Promising Futures," is a national youth leadership conference for young Costa Ricans from marginal communities throughout the country. We will invite 80 youth based on their participation in local community committees "Juntas de Proteccion" and on leadership potential. The conference will be in the form of a camp where kids from all parts of the country will come together for three nights of activities in a campsite in the Central Valley. The objectives of the camp will be:
1. Leadership training through such workshops as: Sexuality, Life Planning Skills, Leadership and Motivation, and Community Project Planning.
2. That the youth use their training to work more closely with their local community groups (i.e. Juntas de Proteccion) with the goal that they design and then implement a small, youth based project in their communities when they return from the camp.
3. To offer the youth an enjoyable camp experience and memorable event that they may never have had, but deserve as youth.
IF YOU WANT TO DONATE:
The direct link to the PCPP is: https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.donors.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=515-138
You can copy and paste that link.
If that doesn't work, you can arrive there by going to the Peace Corps Website, www.peacecorps.gov, choose the "Donate Now" tab on the left side of the page, then select "Donate to Volunteer Projects," and search by country (Costa Rica) and select the project: "Building Promising Futures" submitted by M. Washington, project number 515-138
Any donation, however small, would be greatly appreciated.
OK, after shamelessly asking for your money, I should probably get going. It has started to rain again. Down here, rain storms (which happen every afternoon in the rainy season) are kind of like snow storms in the States in that they give you an excuse to just do nothing, stay inside, and drink coffee (I think I may have adapted too much to Tica culture!). Love to all!