Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back to school...

Ok, so clearly I can tell that things are never going to "calm down" around here. Every day there are going to be more adventures, more stories and more mishaps. But I do want to make sure you are all getting a picture of the "day-to-day" life here in Guatemala (I promise NEVER to call it "Guatemala in a nutshell" after yesterday´s comment from Anonymous) So as promised, today I am going to tell you all about The Great Adventures of Spanish School.

I´m not sure I´ve mentioned exactly how Spanish school works but long story short, for the first two weeks while I´m here, I have 4 hours of Spanish class (now that I think about it, the story really isn´t actually that long to begin with!) Anyway, last Monday I met the woman who would be my Spanish teacher for a whopping 40 hours. Her name is Mary (although for the first week I thought it was Maria...). For you visualists out there, here she is:

So many of you out there may be thinking this is going to be a boring blog entry and are currently considering navigating away from my blog and opting for something more interesting on E! Online. Don´t do it...I promise you that this gets more interesting.

It´s basically completely up to me how I want the class to go. For any of you reading this who know me at all, you know that I have a very severe, undiagnosed case of ADD. So there is no possible way I was going to be able to conjugate verbs for 4 hours a day. Also for those of you who know me, I have virtually NO filter. None. No idea what is appropriate or inappropriate to discuss with this woman I really do not know. So take 40 hours+ADD+no filter and you get some seriously intersting conversations.

One entire day we went back and forth trying to explain expressions to each other. It took me about an hour to explain why "The grass is greener on the other side" makes any sense at all...and by the end, I´m not so sure it actually does make any sense. I also tried to teach her "You can´t teach an old dog new tricks"...again, not easy with limited language.

But my favorite moment of Spanish class came today less than 5 hours ago. For those readers with children in the room, this may be a good time to tuck them into bed. So somehow (please don´t ask me how) the subject of religious rituals came up. Well, one thing led to another and I just happened to mention the word ¨circumsision.¨ Suddenly, a shy Mary became like a curious kid. She said that she had heard the word but had no idea what it was and could I please explain it to her.

Well, I immediately had to turn to the "pen..." section of my dictionary (turns out that "penis" is "penis" in any language) and with my rudimentary Spanish explain to Mary that circumcision is when we basically cut the end of the penis off. Well, if I had the picture of her face at that moment, I think this blog would be one of the most popular blogs on the web. It was hilarious. The pure look of horror on her face was priceless. I tried to explain to her that it was relatively painless and that we did it on little tiny babies...clearly, this argument did not help (acutally, I think it only did more harm to my argument). She kept asking me "Why? Why? Why?" Again, trying to explain a combination of medical reasons and a pact that Abraham made with God was not exactly within my Spanish, after a while, I just looked at her and said, "Do you want to hear another English expression??" Suddenly, that seemed much easier...

Anyway, despite a few mishaps, Spanish school has actually been really good and my Spanish is much better than I thought. And today, I took Mary on in an intense game of Spanish Scrabble...I lost (she was RUTHLESS) I´m a pretty competitve person (perhaps the understatement of the year) so if losing won´t get me to learn Spanish, nothing will...

I think that is all for now. Everything else is going really well...and if any of you need help explaining any barbaric rituals to foreigners, you know who to turn to...


Monday, April 28, 2008

El place I though I'd never go but so glad I did!

Sometimes when I sit down to right these blogs, I wish there was a way to insert sound effects. This one would definitely start with a long and relaxed [sigh....].

I am back from El Salvador and can honestly say I can’t remember a time I was more relaxed for 48+ hours straight in my life. I think there may have actually been times when my heart rate was so low that it just stopped beating for a while. So...let’s back up to Saturday morning and recount the “Adventures of El Salvador”.

So about 30 seconds after I sent off the last blog post, I raced out the door to catch a silver shuttle down to El Salvador. What should have been a 4 hour smooth ride to the beach didn’t go exactly as planned. First off, 3 of the other volunteers on the program were so drunk the night before that they were actually still a bit tipsy when the walked on board...interesting way to start the morning. I sat next to perhaps the most interesting character I’ve met so far. His name was Bruce and he has pretty much been surfing his way down Central America for the last 4 months. I’m telling you all that if that guy was keeping a blog, none of you would be reading mine because his stories are FAR more interesting.

About 2 hours into the ride and about 15 minutes from the border, we stopped at a market. Suddenly all of us were buying and eating watermelon off the back of a truck and cheesy tortillas from a stand...perfect for those with the hangover.

Now that everyone was feeling a little less green, it was off the the strangest border crossing I’ve ever seen. It was literally pretty much optional to get out of the car and swipe your passport...a far cry from the iris scanning, liquid inspecting, fingerprint inking line in the US. The only real reason I got out was in the hopes of an El Salvador stamp but no such luck...

About 5 minutes after we crossed the border, we got stuck behind a slow truck. Our driver tried to illegally maneuver around it and within seconds, we were pulled over by the cops. For about the next 2 hours, we sat in 90 degree heat dripping in sweat awaiting the police to give our driver back his keys. Needless to say, not how I envisioned starting my beach weekend...but we did get there, eventually and it was all worth it.

We stumbled out of our silver shuttle and the driver actually had the guts to ask us for a tip...only in El Salvador would a driver that basically gave us all severe dehydration would ask each person for $1. So we handed over the dollar (yes...dollars! They use American money in El Salvador...bizarre) and walked wearily to our what would be our home for the next two days.

So considering that for the ENTIRE weekend (two nights stay, shuttle up to the beach, etc., etc.) cost me $80, I wasn’t exactly sure how this “beach house” would go...but it was FABULOUS! The house was on the beach and about 40 feet above sea level...I would try to describe the view but it is here are a few pictures!

The beach sand is completely black because of the volcanic ash and the beach is littered with
smooth black stones (for any of you who have ever had a hot stone massage, I swear that this beach is where those stones come from...). Our little casita was complete with 3 hammocks, 5 lounge chairs, 1 wading pool...and LOTS of stray dogs.

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned the stray dog situation on this blog yet. Rachel—if you are reading this, you may want to stop now... There are dogs everywhere here and El Salvador was even worse! Stray dogs are just everywhere you look and many are not exactly ready for the Purina Dog Show. But this weekend, I think I found the most pathetic one so far...we lovingly called him “One-eye, 3-legs”. I think you probably can get the picture, but just in case you can't, here he is:

Anyway, the rest of the weekend went something like this:

Wake up. Eat a granola bar. Mosey over to a hammock. Take a 2 hour nap. Stroll down the beach to one of two restaurants in the entire town. Eat lunch (3 choices: Carne asada, Pollo asada or Pez Asada—basically grilled meat or grilled meat). Take a dip in the ocean. Take a dip in the pool. Do a crossword. Lay back down in the hammock. Play Scrabble. Go to dinner at the other of the 2 restaurants. Meet some crazy El Salvadorians. Have a beer. Go to sleep. Repeat.

We went out dancing one night and that was a blast. I am definitely discovering that there is a whole world of wandering travelers out there that somehow manage to find each other and have a pretty good time together!

Funny I was walking on the beach (right in between eating at restaurant #1 and taking a dip) and decided I should get a picture of the moment. And figured that this would be a good time to give me Spanish a whirl with the locals. So I found a local and asked him in Spanish to take my picture. He looked at me completely blankly. No response. I asked him again, this time slowing down and making sure to conjugate my verbs just right. Still no response.

Finally, the guy looked at me and said in a perfect American accent, “Did you want me to take a picture of you?” Turns out, the guy was from Chicago...didn’t speak a word of Spanish.

Anyway, that is basically El Salvador in a nutshell. When the weekend was over and I started stuffing my sandy bathing suit and damp towel into my backpack, I found myself thinking how nice it was going to be to return to Antigua. It’s amazing that after only 9 days this place really is starting to feel like home. Speaking of Antigua, here is a picture that I took on Friday on my way to school. I think it’s my favorite picture I’ve taken so far:

Not a bad place to call home for 7 weeks...

xoxo, Debra

Saturday, April 26, 2008

And I'm off!

So I haven't mentioned this before but less than 24 hours after I got to Antigua, about 5 other volunteers asked me if I wanted to go to El Salvador this weekend. Not a question I get asked very of course I had to say YES!

So I'm leaving for El Salvador in about 10 minutes and will be back on Monday night (no school on Monday this week because of first communion)

Anyway, I didn't want to leave my faithful followers in the lurch while I was in a beach house with no computers so I thought I'd send out a link to just a few pictures so far....

Enjoy...Hasta Lunes! (until Monday for you non-speakers...)


Thursday, April 24, 2008

I think I'm in love...

No mom...I have not found a nice Jewish boy who is both a surgeon and a lawyer. But I am officially in love with this city. And I must was not love at first sight. I know I was going to write about Spanish school today but I’ve decided that I can’t go any further in this blog without giving you a little introduction to Antigua...the little gem of Guatemala.

When I first got here, I was in a complete daze of confusion, homesickness and frankly...pure exhaustion (I suppose that is what happens when you spend the last 10 nights before you go up going over your packing list...) But it all changed.

It happened two nights ago just like how everybody says it does...when you least expect it. It was about 6:30 at night after my second day of teaching. I was walking all the way across town to meet a “friend of a friend” (more on that later...). I was just going through the days events in my mind and asking myself the typical 3rd day questions...Can I really do this for six whole months? Will I ever learn Spanish? Am I going to do permanent damage to my students?

All of the sudden, the questions quieted and I looked up and the entire sky was pure pink. Behind me was a huge hill covered in trees and speckled with ruins. In front of my was a smoking volcano. I was walking through the central square which is really the heart of the city. And that is when I realized that I was actually IN Antigua.

I know it sounds crazy...of course I knew I was here but for some reason at that moment, it struck me that last week at this time, I was playing Guitar Hero in my condo and today, I was walking through the streets of Antigua under a painted was amazing!

Ok ladies and gentlemen...a BRIEF history of Antigua...

Antigua was once the capital of Guatemala but it’s not anymore. Basically a volcano erupted or an earthquake (can’t remember which) and it was pretty much demolished. SO after that, the capital was moved but Antigua became a completely colonial city. ( I’m not a history buff, what do you want??) But the moral of the story is that Antigua is literally stuck in time. All of the building are bright colors. All of the streets are completely cobblestone (makes walking in sandals VERY interesting) and there are rules about no big commercial signs. So for example, there is a McDonalds but it is VERY hard to find! And lastly, there are ruins all over the city. Just nestled between a Domino’s Pizza and an internet café...bizarre.

Speaking of bizarre, the night I fell in love, I went to a party of a friend of a friend. It was a birthday party of some girl who is some niece of some woman of some friend of a person I have never met. It was in a neighborhood just outside of Antigua where ALL of the “gringos” live. To say this house was incredible doesn’t exactly do it justice. Let’s just say if Robin Leach were to come here, this would be the house he’d visit. (and for those of you who don’t know who Robin Leach is, that is what Google is for...)

The party was on Earth Day so all of the guests were required to wear green. These people knew how to throw a party. Even the toothpicks for the cheese cubes had mini silk flowers on top of them to celebrate the occasion. The food was DELICIOUS and there was a canopied backyard with tableclothed tables in the garden for the occasion. Keep in mind, the birthday girl was 23!

In any case, it was a great party...really nice people and some good stories out of the deal (and everyone got a party favor...) But when I returned to the city, it was like I fell in love all over again.

Ok...well that is all I have time for for now. I am off to meet another pretty random person (a friend of my dad’s, daughter’s fiancé who lives here!) for pizza and out on the town. This will be my first night exploring Antigua nightlife so I’m sure I’ll have more to post soon.

I’m having a little trouble with the pictures but really hope to have them up ASAP or at the very least, post a link to Shutterfly. For now, all you Google-ers out there, if you are looking for something to do to distract you from what you REALLY have to do, why not so a quick search of images of Antigua? Take a look may just fall in love...


Pardon the interruption...we are experiencing technical difficulties...

To all of my loyal blog readers--

I have not forgotten about you and I DEFINITELY have not run out of things to say! But I am having a few technical dificulties that I am trying to work out. I will do my best to post again tonight and (finger crossed) get some pictures up there...

xoxo from the land of no help desk,

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

First day of school and I didn't miss the chicken bus...

Before I even start this entry, I have to tell you all how much fun it is to come home to your comments at night! When I wrote the initial entry for this and said that I hoped that this would be a way to “take you with me”, I guess I didn’t even really believe that myself...but seriously, when I come home and read your comments, it is like you are here! So keep ‘em comin’ folks...and I’ll try to keep the blog as interesting as possible! again, the last two days have been jam-packed and trying to write about all of it right now seems so overwhelming that I have decided I’m just going to write about the school where I teach today. I have this irrational fear that after the first week when everything is just “routine”, I will run out of things to I’m trying to spread out the good material! Although I must say that after 4 days, it is hard to see how these days will ever seem routine.

So today’s topic: La Escuela de Santa María de Jesús

After the complete “surreal-ness” that was Sunday, I headed straight to bed. It’s funny how some things never change. When I woke up to get dressed for my first day, I couldn’t decide what to wear...first day jitters...should I wear my dark or light khaki pants?? And which solid Gap t-shirt would be appropriate?? Huge, huge decisions. I finally settled on an outfit and at 6:30 am, I had a delicious pancake breakfast and it was off to the bus station.

It is about a 25 minute bus ride up a volcano to the school and we take one of two types of vehicles:

Option 1: a “chicken” bus which is essentially a very run down old American school bus (some of them even say things like “Michigan Public Schools” on them). I have yet to see any chickens on them but I heard they do exist.

Option 2: a kind of shuttle that is designed to fit ~10 people but they easily stuff about 28...all I have to say is that thank god I am a mouth breather!

Anyway, after the 25 minute ride, we arrive at the school and within moments, the ride dissolves away in your mind. About 10 kids await for the bus to arrive and immediately flood the volunteers with huge hugs. It only took the kids about 10 minutes to warm up to me enough to start asking for piggy back rides and tight squeezes. During orientation, I was told that often many of these kids do not get any physical affection at home so school is the only time they really get to be hugged by an adult. It is incredible to me how resilient they are and how readily able they are to show such outward affection...and to a complete stranger!

So when I got to the classroom, I had my first surprise of many...I am not teaching English. Nope...these kids do not know a lick of on Day 1, my Spanish skills were very much put to the test...and I have to say that I think I would have made my high school Spanish teacher Sra. Chapman pretty darn proud! Sure I sounded like a complete idiot but the kids seemed to understand what I was saying.

My kids are about 8-10 and they are seriously freaking adorable. I’ll save another entry to tell you about them each individually but after only two days in the classroom, it is amazing to see how they each have their own unique personality and again, it’s funny how some things never change! There is still the super smart quiet girl, the not-so-bright kid that still wants to volunteer for everything, the spunky little girl who won’t clean up no matter how many times you tell her, and the one girl who just giggles through the entire class like she gets something the rest of us don’t and so many more! I can already tell it will be impossible to say goodbye to them!

There are two different groups of kids: Morning and Afternoon so they only come half days and actually attend the state school in the other half of the day. So far, I have only met the morning kids since I am going to Spanish Immersion classes in the afternoon (that’s a preview for the next blog entry!) We’re teaching pretty “normal” stuff...addition, subtraction, story telling, reading comprehension, etc. Yesterday I kept saying TREINTE, TREINTE and the kids just kept looking at me like I was crazy until one looked at me and said in a sweet voice, “Trece?” (turns out there is a slight difference between the number 30 and the number 13!) It really is amazing that these people trust me with their children. But the kids are incredibly patient and very used to having volunteers who aren’t very good at the language. as I type this, I realize it is impossible to describe, as I’m sure so many things will be, but hopefully this is a basic overview of what I’m doing...I am going to post pictures TONIGHT!!

Tomorrow’s entry: The Adventures of Learning Spanish...

xoxo, Debra

Monday, April 21, 2008

The long and the short of it...

So one of my friends who shall remain nameless (but who's name starts with "B" and ends with "EN") gave me some advice when I started this blog that I should keep the entries somewhat short and sweet. And as a reader of several blogs myself, I tended to agree with him. However, the last 2 days have been so wild, bizarre, fun and scary that there is just no way this is going to be a short entry.

So for Ben and those out there like him who want the short and sweet story, here it is: Food is pretty good, kids are fantastic, my spanish is better than I thought, my host family is very nice and for the first time in my life, I am living with a dog.

For those of you who may want to hear a little bit goes. I’ve decided only to write about the weekend and write about my school experience next...I don’t want to bore all of you on the first entry from Guatemala! I promise that my entries won't normally be this long but's been a hell of a weekend! we'll start where we left off: Houston.

I arrived here in Guatemala with no more bumps in the road and got my luggage immediately. After about 30 seconds of wrestling to get it on my cart, I already regretted the industrial sized shampoo and conditioner, the extra pair of sneakers and enough cashews and almonds to feed all of Antigua for about a month (apparently I was not aware that they have food here...)

Anyway, I managed to get my luggage outside and after looking like a panicked 9-year-old walking through the airport looking for a sign with my name on it, at the VERY end of the tunnel of people, I found a tiny girl named Meike (pronounced Micah) holding a tiny sign for me! Talk about a, it was off to Antigua.

I got to my hostel (yes mom, a really wasn't bad at all) and even though Meike gave me a map and told me explore the city a little bit, I seriously lost consciousness in my room for about 3 hours about 2 minutes after she left. Needless to say, my first afternoon in Guatemala wasn't exactly thrilling but the nap was definitely a wise choice.

I did manage to drag my tired ass out of my room for dinner with Meike and one other staff member, Julia. While we were at dinner, I discovered my first thing about Guatemala that somehow no one who has ever been told me about: the fireworks. So apparently this town is obsessed with fireworks. Sure, they like the kind that go up in the air and light up the sky with gorgeous colors. But they FAR prefer the ones that sound like a gun is going off about 4 feet behind you. Seriously...during the night...anytime is a good time for a gun-shot sounding blast. Not sure if I'm ever going to get used to that but the girls were so unfazed that I just kept right on eating my BBQ chicken (which was so delicious by the way after eating nothing but airplane food all day...) After dinner, it was straight back to the hostel and immediately to bed.

Sunday morning I went to the GVI house (the home base for the non-profit I am volunteering with) to get my orientation. We sat up on the roof of the house overlooking a volcano and was gorgeous. Learned the basics (pretty much, don't get killed and don't be dumb) and left for a quick tour of the city. The city is great. From what I've heard, it is definitely a "diamond in the rough" of Guatemala. The style is completely colonial and there are ruins everywhere. There are some crazy rules in place like no houses can be painted the same color near to each other and the streets must remain really feels like another world in a different time...but then you see a McDonald's and all is right with the world again :)

While we were on our short tour, we ran into 3 other volunteers: Shannon, Michael and Brittney. They told me they were going to a place called the Earth Lodge for the afternoon and evening and wanted to know if I wanted to join. Now, as a girl who has not a single friend, saying yes seemed like the only possible off to Earth Lodge I went.

We got picked up in a pick up truck and I climbed right on over the edge of a bright blue truck and sat on a slab of wood about 4 inches across...apparently not meant for people who have ever eaten an ice cream cone. Anyway, we ascended the mountain/hill for about 25 minutes and got dropped off in the place where the term "middle of nowhere" was invented. We proceeded to hike down a steep hill and steps for about 15 minutes and suddenly, out of no where popped this oasis...was I dreaming? Had the altitude gotten to me? Was I still in my hostel bad? No, no and no...I was actually there. This little resort area with a bunch of hammocks and Adirondack (no freaking clue how to spell that...) chairs and cute little cabins. Just a place to relax and was really nice.

But this blog is not only to talk about what was wonderful...but the tougher parts too. I have to say that all those hours up there really made me feel pretty lonely. It was definitely a little too much time to think for a girl who just left behind a fabulous life, an awesome family and the best friends in the world the day before. But I was warned about instead of fight against it, I just embraced it. Just felt it...and you know what? It really wasn't that scary of a thing...

At this point, I was pretty desperate to do ANYTHING to keep my mind from wandering back home and suddenly, in the bizarre place, with these new people walks in perhaps the most bizarre woman I have ever met. She had been living at the Earth Lodge for 2.5 months just to "take a break" from life. She was middle aged and from England...her name was Jo. Anyway, as odd as Jo was, she saved me from my loneliness and offered to read my tarot cards. Now, this may not have been the wisest idea in my frail state but seriously, I'm on a mountain in Antigua, looking at a volcano that is actually spewing lava into the air and it is running down the side of the mountain and a woman from England offers to do a card reading...this was one of those moments where there is nothing TO say but "okay..."

So the tarot card reading went pretty good and the funny Jo conversation that followed. Then we had dinner (seriously delicious pizza...sorry all you Passover observers out there...) and headed back. Heading straight up this hill in the pitch black was no small task especially considering that we are at almost 9000 ft. elevation. But I managed to drag myself up and over into that pick up truck and back to my host family. That brings me to my host family!

My host mom is great. It is just her and her daughter in the house (although I've heard some weird rumors about the grandpa so I think he might live here to in a different little house? who knows...) Her name is Cristina and I will post pictures of her soon and tell you more about my house where there is actually a parrot who greeted me with “hola!”, an adorable dog named Lucky, two other birds and a turtle...yes folks, I am living in a small zoo...but it’s great!

Also, like my own mother, Cristina has a very strange affection for fake flowers...but not just any fake flowers...giant sunflowers...EVERYWHERE! Hanging plants, potted plants, placemats, napkins, light fixtures, fridge magnets....this woman LOVES sunflowers...and it’s great!

My room is fine....very modest but it is more than I need. I’m hoping the kids will make some art for me at some point to spruce up the white cinder block walls but for now, I just focus on my Winnie the Pooh sheets and flannel dinosaur curtains on my closet (a far stretch from 317 Groveland Avenue...).

Ok...I think that’s all for now! I promise to write more soon about school and post some pictures as soon as I can. Please keep in touch and tell me what’s going on in all of your lives...a touch of normalcy probably wouldn’t hurt at a time like this!

Signing off for now...


Alive and ONLINE!

Hey all! So before all of you though I got killed by a Guatemalan stray dog and stopped checking the blog, I just thought I'd let you all know that I arrived safe and sound. Took me a day to get internet figured out but now I have that up and running too! Anyway, I will be posting a blog with all the details of day 1 and 2 but fir right now, I have children to teach...minds to mold (scary thought, huh??)

Check back tonight for a full report!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Houston...we don't have a problem :)

So I've arrived in Houston and am officially on my way. I figured I would just do a quick post before I enter the "unknown internet access land"...which as you all know is a very scary place for a person as plugged in as I am!

I had my goodbye party last night and got to dress up in a party skirt and heels for the last time in 6 months (definitely NOT going to miss the heels) Saying goodbye to everyone was definitely not an easy task but I just kept trying to focus on the adventures ahead.

It's amazing that only 4 hours into my trip, I have already encountered a couple travel mishaps. After about 1.5 hours of sleep, I actually almost slept through my flight altogether but managed to scramble my way to good ole' Lindbergh (thanks dad for waking me up!) Once I arrived, my bag was 7 pounds over the limit. So in the middle of the airport I was frantically throwing nail polish remover, hair spray and Ponds wipes at my dad telling him to bring them back to the it looks like I might be in for 6 months with some pretty rough nails, frizzy hair and an oily face. But I suppose if that is the worst of it, I'll take it!

Ok...well my flight is being called. I got a text from my friend Amy yesterday that said in many ways, today will be the best day of my whole trip because everything still lies ahead of me. I agree wholeheartedly...

Next post from Guatemala!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

How did I even get here???

Well since I'm new to this whole blogging thing, I figure I better take it for a test drive before I leave the comfort of my own couch!

As I sit here on my big red couch, in my downtown condo, watching a Tivo'd Office, I can't help but think about just how far away it will all seem in only two days...I suppose I should back up a few steps and explain how I got here in the first place.

I guess I was your average kid. Lots of scraped knees and endless annoying questions. I used to love the questions and still love them now! (trust me...any of you who know me at all know I love asking the weird questions...) But there was one question that I never knew the answer to: What do you want to be when you grow up? Sure I had ideas...a Broadway star, a master journalist, maybe even the person who picks the toys that go into boxes of Cheerios :)

When I was a kid, the possibilities were endless. What I hadn't counted on, was that at the age of 27 I wouldn't be much closer to answering the question than when I was 7. About a year ago, I decided it was time to do my best to try to figure it out...or at the very least, have an amazing experience in the process!

I always promised myself that if I truly discovered what my passion was, I would follow it. Sounds simple, huh? I thought so too but as it turns out, I really didn't know! I started to think about it and open my eyes to the possibilities around me and that has brought me here. I decided about a year ago that I wanted to pursue philanthropic work abroad. It is something that I have always wanted to do and I know that it isn't going to get any easier than now to "seize the day."

I began my search of philanthropic opportunities. (By the way, if you ever want to feel really good about the world we live in, do this cannot believe how many people have dedicated their lives to such wonderful work) I came across a program that was a perfect fit:
  • 6 months (April 19-October 19)
  • 4 countries (Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador and Peru)
  • Teaching English to hundreds of students (and hopefully learning Spanish along the way!)
  • Discover what my next passion is!
I hope this blog will serve as both a personal journal for myself and a vehicle to take you all with me on this amazing journey. I hope you will find it funny, educational, entertaining and inspiring. I also really hope that this will not be a one-way communication. Please, please leave comments and emails...I don't even think I can understand how much they will mean to me once I get there!

As I board that flight early Saturday morning, I will only have one ticket in my hand and will be entering the world of the unknown. But knowing that in some small way, I get to take you along makes it so much easier to get on that plane.

I miss you all already--