Wednesday, April 19, 2017

So it begins

So I figured I'd get this out of the way before I really disappear out of the spotlight for a long time.

Last Friday, April 14 my roommate Jay, a good buddy Kevin, and Gino Cappuccino brought me to the airport to begin my new journey. After a quick layover in Houston I landed in LA and began meeting my fellow Peace Corps Trainees. Fast forward to dinner at We're Pouring, lots of great beers and pizza at this little craft beer bar. Sessions the next day then here is where the story really begins.

Bus to LAX - Arrive at 6:45pm + Boarding at 11:20pm = Check-in not available yet.

Wait and wait and wait. Finally all 41 of us got checked in and made it into the international terminal. Flight takes off I sleep 8 out of the 11 hours of the flight. When I awoke I watched Arrival. I highly recommend it. It was probably the most fitting movie any person can watch on a plane before going to a foreign land for 27 months.

We landed in Fiji around 5am and we were supposed to transfer into the international terminal to wait 8 hours for our next flight, but alas that didn't happen. We were forced to go thru customs and wait in the departure terminal for 6 hours, Fiji Passport Stamp!!! The good news the PC Director in Fiji came thru for us and got us a few hotel rooms so we shower and relax a bit before the next leg of the trip. We brought our luggage up for check-in but guess what, we were only allowed to bring half of our items on the plane, the other half would arrive on the next plane...two days later. Delay after delay after delay until finally we walked the tarmac to the prop plane and started the bumpy 2 1/2 hour hop, skip, and a jump to Vanuatu. Arriving to a warm welcome by PC Staff we all boarded mini buses to an amazingly beautiful resort.

Group 29 departs the "posh life" for "village life" starting tomorrow. I couldn't be more excited. I've been longing for this. Communication will probably stop, I'm on wifi right now. Who knows when I'll be able to talk with anyone outside of of Vanuatu, but I'm okay with that, and I know you are too.

Be well y'all. The time will pass faster than you know it. I miss you.

Tomorrow I resume The hardest job I've ever loved.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Cooks Bay - Towit Aid Post - Erromango - Vanuatu

The other day Peace Corps sent out the site placements to Vanuatu Group 29 trainees and I'm excited to announce that I will be the first volunteer in Towit. It is located on the eastern side of Erromango in Cook's Bay. There are two grass airstrips on the island, one road, and I'm not near any of it. I'll wait till I arrive to figure out how I get around, looks like I'm gonna be doing a lot of walking. I'm glad I brought my machete back from Malawi. 

My potential projects will be:
  • Assisting with capacity building for Health committee members
  • Assisting health workers with community health survey
  • Raising awareness and training to care for Disabled people in the community.
  • Community health education for men, women, youth and children to promote prevention strategies against:
    • NCDs (Noncommunicable Diseases)
    • WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) related diseases
    • Improved toilets and maintenance
    • Maternal child health
    • STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections)
The amount of information about where I am going is minimal but I like it that way, more of an adventure in my mind. But let me tell you about this small world story:

We all get our site announcements and on the Vanuatu Group 29 Facebook page a current PCV posted a site roll call and we all put our sites up. Laura and Brian posted that they too will be on Erromango, on the other side of the jetty 'just North', 14+ mile hike, of me in Port Narvin. Well a couple days later Laura messages me that they currently live in...Austin! Crazy huh? Wait, hold my beer. Last night at my bar, Mort Subite, the only Belgian beer bar in Austin, I was talking to a couple and I brought up that I'm going into the Peace Corps, yada yada yada. They said they have friends doing the Peace Corps too - well here's the kicker its Laura and Brian. They are home-brewers that are doing a Belgian beer competition with the couple that came to my bar. Oh the people you meet!

I'll post at least one more time before I depart in 34 days.



Monday, February 13, 2017

60 days to Peace Corps Vanuatu

On April 14th I get on an airplane traveling from Austin, TX to Los Angeles, CA to being my second tour with the Peace Corps. In approximately a month I will know where I will be living for 2 years. The 83 island nation covers 4,706+ square miles between Fiji and Australia.

I decided that I needed to leave America back in May of 2016. I've been having internal struggles. What does it mean to be an American? What am I here to do? Why do I want to stay in one place for the rest of my life when there are so many places I've never seen? It's all about the money. That is our society. Work, work, work then retire and enjoy life. Who came up with that? I can't go along with that. That's why I'm taking a break from America.

Now that that is out of the way, back to business. So I'll arrive in Port Vila on April 18 and go thru 10 weeks of training then I'll move to my site where I'll work with my community to figure out what projects I'll be tackling over my 2 years.

The process the second time around has been very different than the first time, I guess many things change in 6 years. Each volunteer had to choose a category site they would be willing to live in.

From Peace Corps:
'All sites will offer their own unique challenges and no two sites will be the same. A Category 1 site could present as many challenges (unrelated to remoteness) to a PCV as Category 4 site.  The category breakdown below is merely a guide, but even within categories there will be variations between sites:
Category 1 - Potentially large communities, no electricity, and limited water in dry season, urban setting, and gender defined roles.
Category 2 - Isolation, no electricity, limited water in dry season, potentially large communities, and gender defined roles.
Category 3 - Remote, limited food variety, no running water, isolation, no electricity, gender defined roles.
Category 4 - Remote (must hike/walk distances to access other communities/Volunteers), isolation, strong customs, no electricity, limited phone service, gender defined roles, small communities, limited/unreliable flight schedule (on outer islands).'

I said I'd be willing to live in any category, but I prefer category 4. Since then we've had a PC phone conference with the country director and other staff. Category 4 seems as though there will be no electricity, running water, cell phone reception, and it takes many days to travel from PCHQ to site. I'd get to totally live off the grid. My excitement level is through the roof. My only worry is island fever. I've never experienced that but there is a first time for everything.

I'll post a couple more times before I leave and who knows when I'll get to post after that. I won't forget about you, I ask you do the same. Until next time.

HFDHYSOD