Campesinos who Move and Shake

There are the city folks who’ve obviously up and moved from the countryside and are trying or have made a name for themselves in the city. What about the campesinos (Spanish word for a person who lives in the countryside) who move and shake? This post is dedicated to some of my favorite campesinos.
Out in the countryside, life is a bit more basic. More relaxed. At times, life is a bit too relaxed. Finding community leaders is a struggle. I’ve sat through several painful meetings in which some person, for example the treasurer, decides to step down from his or her duty. The result is that there is a void left in their departure. Those present at the meeting will sit, the last time for probably twenty minutes, going through a cycle of silence, throwing out a name of a potential person to take the position, him or her hemming and hawing then refusing, followed by silence. Eventually someone will accept the nomination and the meeting will come to a close.  While I respect those individuals that finally step up, this post isn’t about them. This is about the people who jump at the opportunity to represent and lead their community, to make a positive change without being forced into doing so.

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How-To Peace Corps

So you want to immerse yourself in the Peace Corps experience from the comfort of your own home? Cool.
Step 1: Preparing your House
  • Tell your internet, cable, and electricity providers that you’re going on vacation for two years. Of course the first two don’t really matter since you wouldn’t have either of them wthout electricity. Now is probably a good time to clean out the fridge.For good measure, cancel your cell phone plan and get a prepaid feature phone.
  • If your stove is electric, well, go buy a camp stove and propane tank from the sporting goods store. Stuff your oven full of rocks or whatever because you won’t have enough money to make the original purchase of an oven with your move in allowance. Don’t worry, you’ll learn how to turn your stove into an oven.
  • If you live in a climate where it’s always hot or doing this experiment during the summer, time to leave the windows and all the doors forever open. For good measure, remove the screens as well. You’ll probably want to purchase a mosquitto net to cover your bed, otherwise, good luck sleeping!
  • If you’ve got a car, give the keys to a friend, public transportation only!
  • Now is a good time to read up on how to hand wash laundry. Probably a good time to install a clothes line if you don’t have one.
  • Also a good time to start learning how to garden.
  • Turn your hot water heater off. Boil your water or figure out how to heat it using the sun.

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Peace Corps is a Roller Coaster

Typically when I meet someone outside of Peace Corps they ask me about my service. At some point I’ll mention the ups and downs which make it difficult to answer question. At a given time I might be really up, and a week later, really down. Peace Corps is a two year long roller coaster that all volunteers experience to some degree. I realized today, after contemplating the last few days that I’d gone through were probably the most rapidly changing part of the ride in months. What better time then, to clarify what the ups and downs of Peace Corps actually means through a 24 hour example.

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Technology

Pooping in a hole, living without electricity or hot water, and hiking twenty minutes waiting ten minutes and 20 more minutes on public transportation to get to a food store, hardly compared to my withdraw from technology. I’ve thrived with technology, teaching myself electrical engineering and computer science, using Wikipedia to teach myself whatever topic, using Google Calendar to keep my life organized, etc. Arriving to Panama was taking a large step back in my life, and an introduction to living much more basic. This post is dedicated to all the gadgets that have made living a bit less basic.

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