Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy New Year from Costa Rica

Cutting banana leaves to make tamales, a traditional Christmas food.

Happy New Year! I hope this year has treated you well and I hope the next one is even better.

When the year closes, I’ll have spent 304 days in Costa Rica, a little more than a third of my Peace Corps service. I’ve survived non-potable water, cold showers, limited internet, and more mud than I could have imagined. I’ve made countless friends—both gringo Peace Corps peers and Costa Rican and Nicaraguan neighbors, many of whom impress me with their generosity, intelligence, and hard work despite limited formal education. Although I miss family and friends, I’ve come to feel at home here, too.

I’ve had the privilege to try my hand at well digging, cow milking, English teaching, computer repairing, community organizing, papaya planting, school constructing, rice milling, and tamale making. I make my bread in a rice cooker, my pizza in a wood-fired oven, and pay a neighbor to wash my clothes by hand. Just as in the States life is mostly busy and often pleasant, although never before have I had the privilege of making so many decisions about my work and my schedule. During these months I’ve been struck by how difficult development work is and how much of it depends on the people. Although I’m proud of the work I do, I know I’m only a small piece of the puzzle compared to my neighbors who invest in their farms and shops, their children’s education, and their communities.

When the year closes, I’ll have 504 days more as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Keep in touch as I continue my service!

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