Thursday, June 2, 2011

Peace Corps Nicaragua Reunion in Alaska!

Me, Danielle, Liz and Elisa
Although we spent about 27 months together in Nicaragua (in separate villages of course), apparently that wasn’t enough!  We just had to organize a post-Peace Corps (PC) reunion!  My good friends Elisa, Danielle and Liz who were in my same “group” of health volunteers during my PC service came this month for a two week trip to Sitka (my hometown) and Juneau.  The girls are from Minnesota, Texas and Oregon respectively, and this was their first time in “The Last Frontier.”  I was thrilled when they decided to do the trip last fall and we have been planning the trip using spreadsheets and Facebook groups for months.

Sunny Sitka!

Sitka's Mt. Edgecumbe volcano - it looked like it was erupting this night! (It is dormant however)

It was so nice to see their familiar faces again after having been back in the U.S. for a month.  We were able to re-connect, talk about readjustment to the U.S. and its culture, job-seeking, future plans, and our general feelings about life in America after Nicaragua.  After spending so much time together in PC training and finding weekends to be together throughout our service, I feel like I’ve known these girls my entire life.  After serving in PC, you find that no one quite understands what you’ve been through and can talk about it with you like other volunteers in your group.

Sitka National Historical Park (aka Totem Park)

We had fun seeing the sights of Alaska and enjoyed some amazing weather.  Although we had our share of rain and mist, we also had quite a few cloudless, sunny days with temperatures in the low 60s F (pretty good for southeast Alaska!)  We hiked a different trail just about every day, went camping at a beautiful Forest Service cabin outside of Sitka located right next to a natural hot springs, took the ferry to Juneau for a few days and saw the Mendenhall Glacier and the Alaskan Brewing Company, went out to Sitka’s “fisherman bars” – quite an experience, sang a lot of Nicaraguan reggaeton songs that we missed, made Nicaraguan food, gave a talk about PC and our service at the Sitka high school and the local library, and just sat around enjoying each other’s company and watched movies.  With just under 9,000 residents, Sitka is pretty small and the girls joked that after their two weeks here, they started to recognize most people in town.

The educational talk about Peace Corps we gave at the Sitka library
Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau

Juneau from above - we went up the Mt. Roberts tram
Hiking the glacier in Juneau

The chicas took off today and I already miss having three buddies to do things with.  I’m also a bit stressed about what’s next for me.  I haven’t planned much beyond this trip, and now that it’s over, I’m finding myself still conflicted about my next steps.  I’m debating between staying and working here in Sitka for the summer and living at home, or moving up to Anchorage (Alaska’s “big city”) and looking for work there and rooming with friends.  I plan on applying to graduate school this fall and would start in 2012, but after PC I realize that plans (even the well thought out ones) can change in a flash.  

Cabin we rented for a night

A friend we made
Nicaraguan food we made! (everything is basically fried...)
Like the "Words with Friends" iPhone app, but in real life!  Playing Scrabble...

I’m so happy that Danielle, Elisa and Liz were able to come up and I hope they had as much fun seeing my home state as I did showing it to them!  I enjoyed being a tourist as well as I showed them the sights and even learned a few things about Alaska myself! My family friends in Juneau the Trivettes, as well as my parents here in Sitka were wonderful and hospitable hosts.  We felt very cared for and I know the girls felt like they were “en casa.”  I can’t wait for our next PC reunion… we’re talking about a return trip to Nicaraguan next spring!

Until next trip!

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