Ok, so I'll admit it...I've started to enjoy blogging (gasp!) and have had fun allotting Wednesday mornings as my weekly "blog time". It might be that I haven't really forced myself to write since college and I'm enjoying the challenge, but probably it has more to do with loving the feeling of going through the Peace Corps process with all of my closest friends and family. ¡Los quiero mucho!
Anyways, this week has been relatively peaceful in terms of needing to get things done before I leave. No new news from the Peace Corps, so I've really started putting all my effort into deciding what to bring with me to Belize. Packing has become the bane of my existence (or at least, my departure) at this point. The Peace Corps has a very strict baggage policy: checked baggage cannot go over 80 lbs. or a have a linear dimension exceeding 107 inches. (length+width+height). So it seems a daunting task when trying to figure out how to pack 2 years worth of my life into 2 suitcases.
Since I found out that I was leaving in October, I've been bugging current volunteers for advice on what to pack. It seems the general consensus is to bring lots of clothes. Apparently, the humidity, heat, harsh detergents, line drying, and general wear and tear take their toll on the clothes down there. And even though Belize is insanely hot and tropical, and as much as I will want to walk around in tank tops, itty-bitty shorts, and flip-flops, I can't. I have to keep in mind that it is a conservative country, and unlike in the United States, people aren't accustomed to women dressing in that manner unless they are, well, prostitutes. It was the same in Guadalajara, where we had to suffer through 100 degree weather in jeans and t-shirts....no fun, let me tell you. And while I'm sure it varies from region to region, I have still been told to avoid spaghetti straps and short shorts, at least when I go out in public. Also, I have to consider that I will be working in schools, and need to dress accordingly. This means knee-length skirts, nice blouses, and close-toed shoes. So what I've really come away with from talking with everyone is that there's no real cut-and-dry list on what to pack for Belize- it all depends on where you will be living, which of course we won't know until 2 months after we get there. But part of the Peace Corps is being flexible- so flexible I shall be!
Aside from packing, I've been making the most of the time I have left with friends and family. I have kept in close contact with one of my high school Spanish teachers, Lisa Thorton, who has been a great friend and mentor to me over the years. We met for coffee last week, caught up on our recent travels, classroom adventures, and plans for the future. And as always, she was a wonderful person to talk to and made me feel a little better about the huge challenge I'm about to embark on. I also got to go up to the cabin over the weekend with my best friend, Ashley, to spend some quality "girl time" together before I leave. This entailed getting stuck on the way up the driveway, hiking through 1 1/2 feet of snow carrying all of our stuff, eating lots of chocolate, reading trashy magazines, playing card games, and chatting by the stove.
I was also very excited when my PADI card came in the mail! For those of you that didn't know, I went to Cozumel at the beginning of February to get scuba certified with one of my good friends, Alex. And even though I was only gone for a few days, it was truly one of the best trips of my life. Alex has his own boat and dive pool at his house, so we we were under no scheduling or time constraints. On one of my dives, I got to dive into a little cave and touch a nurse shark. We also saw lots of barracudas, 4 sea turtles, and an ENORMOUS crab and lobster. Sadly, I forgot to bring my camera with me to capture these incredible moments, but here are a few fun pictures we took afterwards:
Me in my scuba gear.
Alex (middle) and his crew on the Ocean 4
Imitating how I touched the shark on the tail (the real one wasn't as big and sparkly).
Ok, that's all for now! I hope you've all enjoyed my increasingly "sophisticated" entries (haha). Until next time...
P.S.- I forgot that this week is Peace Corps Week! On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps. Here's a short excerpt from one of the news releases:
As Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world with 7,671 volunteers serving in 76 host countries. Historically, nearly 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries.