Saturday, October 23, 2010

To the Village I Go!

I am off to the villages for training!  Today Group 83 splits into four groups, each headed to a different village to their own host family.  I am going to Fusi, which is located on the south part of the island and will be staying with Esa Bell and Caroline Bell.  We will be in the village for seven weeks, so I will be without the internet!!!  On Fridays all of the groups meet up in Apia for group training, which will be something to look forward to.

Sorry for such a short post, my mind is a little preoccupied with trying to figure out how I’m going to communicate with my host family, adjust to living with 10 people, and the Samoan diet.  On the flip side, I’m really excited to experience a new and different part of Samoa, start learning the language, and new running routes!

Hope all is well back home!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Week Down

I have been here for one week already, but it seems like I have been here for much longer.  During the week, we have all sorts of sessions to attend about safety and security, TESL, medical, and language.  While the sessions can be a bit dry at times, the information is necessary and important.  The most exciting part of training this past week happened on the first day when the current volunteers hosted an Ava ceremony for Group 83.  At an Ava ceremony the hosts give their guests welcome, safety, and protection throughout their stay.  We all sat on the floor, listened as the language leaders spoke, and then participated in drinking kava.  Afterwards we were able to chat with a few of the PCV’s that attended. 

The weekends are where the real fun is.  This past Saturday 10/9/2010 a big group of us took a long taxi ride to the beach, tafa tafa.  We spent the entire day lounging around, swimming, walking, and even a little bit of snorkeling.  We rented a fale (little hut) to play cards under and take naps.  It was the perfect medicine to a busy week.  The beach looked exactly like the picture I posted on my first blog post.

On Sunday we participated in White Sunday (aka kid’s church) where the children sang and danced.  After church, all the kids go home and get whatever they want for the rest of the day.  Which means that the kids eat way too much.  As a result of poor school attendance the day after White Sunday, the government made the following Monday a holiday.  I think we all really enjoyed watching the kids act out skits.

Monday was the perfect day.  We were able to sleep in before our bus took us to the ‘water safety’ site.  We spent the afternoon snorkeling, jumping off the side of the boat, and getting pulled behind the boat.  We saw some pretty cool stuff in the water including a blue starfish, octopus, and a school of tiny squid. 

I hope you all are doing well and I think about everyone back home often.  I love getting letters and emails about life back home, so feel to write when you have time.  Internet is quite expensive, so I will try my best to update my blog once a week!   And for those of you who know how much I dislike rice, I have been able to avoid it completely!   

For some reason I can't upload pictures, so stay tuned.  Just know that I'm taking lots of pics!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 1

After too many tears, I waited to the last minute to board my plane to LAX.  I had such a great last few days at home with the family and the Ginge, that I really wanted to freeze time. 

My last few days at home were spent going to dinner with a really great group of girlfriends, heading up to Estes to listen to the Elks bugle, and carving Halloween pumpkins. 

I'm about to start staging; a day filled with icebreakers, info, and paperwork.   Then at 6pm we will head to LAX to catch an 11pm flight.  I definetly did not get enough sleep required for such a busy day!  Miss you all!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Last Day in Chicago

Tuesday was my last day with the kids before I flew back to Colorado.  The twins and I had a fun day running errands, eating lunch together, and picking Ella up from school.  I didn't think it was going to be as hard as it was to leave the Dunne family.  They have been a huge part of my life in Chicago and I will miss them all so much.  I am really excited to watch them grow through Emma's blog.  Below are a few pictures of the twins, Lila and Finn, and their older sister Ella.

After a tearful goodbye to Emma, my jam  packed evening continued with dinner, a hair cut, and drinks with a friend.  And by hair cut, I mean I chopped it all off!!

The more I talk to people about where they think they will be in two years, the more real Samoa is becoming.  People will have had babies, gotten married, changed jobs, and possibly moved away.  I'm struggling with the fact that I am going to miss a lot of important events in peoples lives.  However, there is not much I can do about it besides trying to keep in touch as best as possible and visiting home for really important events.  
Now I say good bye to Chicago, I will not miss your winters and will return sooner than you know it,  and head home to Colorado for a few days of last minute errands and family time.  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Last Weekend in Chicago

On Friday, Lila and Finn met my mom at the airport.  The kids were super cute crawling around airport and I was so excited to show them off to my mom.  In the evening we met up with the Ginge and his mom at Xoco, one of our favorite restaurants.  The food was great and we got to see the owner, Rick Bayless, in the kitchen.  

On Saturday, I moved out of my apartment.  Loading the truck was super quick, but cleaning my apartment took forever.  My mom's philosophy is to leave the place cleaner than when you moved in.  After 4.5 hours that place sparkled.  That night we went to a little going away party with all the great people I have met through the Ginge.  They are such great people and I'm going to miss them a lot.   Hopefully, I will get a visit from a few of them.  

More goodbyes on Sunday.  I had lunch with a close friend, Mina and her family.  It is hard to believe that the next time I will see her she will have two kids and living in the suburbs.  

With all of the goodbyes and moving out, I still feel like October 4th is far away.  I don't think this experience will feel real until I board the plane to L.A.   

Samoan News:

After all of us make it to Samoa, we will spend 11 days in Apia in an air conditioned hotel!  Then, the group will split up amongst four villages for the remaining 7 weeks of training.  After training we will be placed in our village for the remainder of our service.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Going Away Party in Colorado

The fact that I am going to be halfway around the world in two weeks is crazy to me.  I know these two weeks are going to fly by, but leaving still seem really far away.    

This past weekend, the Ginge and I went home to Colorado to say a few goodbyes.  On Friday, we went up to Boulder and met a great group of friends for dinner at The Rio.  After dinner, a few of us went out for drinks and reminisce about old times.  I had such a great time seeing old friends and will miss everyone dearly.  I am looking forward to hearing updates on life back home while I am gone.  Hopefully not too many people will get married and have babies by December 2012! 

On Saturday, we lounged around and prepared for dinner at the house.  A small group of friends and mentors came over for a good home cooked meal.  I had another great night catching up with more friends and showing everyone my Samoan "wardrobe."  I am pretty sure I will see most of those people the next time I'm back in town, so there were no tears or sadness at dinner.  

On Sunday, the fam woke up early and went to a delicious brunch at Lucille's.  I don't know how much weight I have gained from eating at all of my favorite restaurants before I leave.  Then the Ginge and I headed back to Chicago to spend a night at a fancy hotel downtown. 

Now it's back to packing up the apartment, getting the flu shot, and saying more goodbyes.   Stay tuned for pics, I left my camera at home.

Monday, September 13, 2010

21 Days Before Staging

It's hard to believe I only have 21 days before I fly to LA for staging. Staging is a fancy word for orientation where I will learn what is expected of me, what happens next, and I get to ask questions. All of which happens the day I fly to Samoa. I think that's going to be overwhelming, but maybe it's supposed to be. The funniest part about Staging is the required business casual attire. What am I supposed to do with my business casual clothes in Samoa for two years? Silliness, I'm thinking I might mail them back home.

The closer my leave date gets, the more I realize how much I'm going to miss back home.
Fall veggies
Watching the leaves change

On the other hand, the closer my leave date gets, the more excited I get about the next chapter in my life as a Peace corps Volunteer.