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A busy crazy fun weekend

I guess it’s time for a personal update. The past few weeks have been kind of crazy, but a lot of fun, too!

The weekend of 5/23 we went to the Nationals-Orioles game with Matthew and Megan. The game was boring, so we left before the exciting part where the Orioles tied up the game and then a guy on the Nationals hit a home run to win the game in the 10th inning, but that’s okay because we were on our way to eat crabs. One of Matthew’s co-workers had recommended a place in Annapolis called Cantler’s, so we decided to go there. It’s back these small one and a half lane country roads that reminded me of Penns Valley. Cantler’s sits off of an inlet to the Chesapeake Bay and was quite busy. We decided to sit inside so we didn’t have to wait for a table, but I think sitting outside would have been much nicer. We ended up getting 2 dozen crabs, some hush puppies and coleslaw for the 4 of us. The side dishes left something to be desired, in my opinion, but the crabs were absolutely delicious! The prices were decent, too. I’d definitely go back, but there are so many other places to check out in the region, too!

Memorial Day weekend is kind of a blur. Somewhere in there Elvis played in 2 soccer games, we made a trip out to Sandy Point State Park, we went for a long walk around Lake Artemesia and we hiked at Sugarloaf Mountain near Frederick.

This weekend I tried on my bridesmaids dress for Matthew and Megan’s wedding (less than 2 weeks!), organized and held Jenna’s bridal shower (4 weeks!), visited the Farmer’s Market in Millheim, had dinner with Tina and Sarah, played Mario Kart with Mom and Dad, went to church, raided the garden, went to Melissa’s graduation party and watched Martha perform with her girl scout group. In 45 hours. That was a bit crazy. Hopefully this weekend is a little more relaxed, though there is another bridal shower (luckily I’m just attending this one!).

CRAZY BUSY and it’s not slowing down at all any time in the near future!

a little bit of everything

Okay, so I survived the white water rafting adventure in Costa Rica.  It was actually quite fun.  I went on a raft with a woman and her 61 year old mother and a Venezuelan guy who was about my age or a little bit older plus the guide.  The guide and I were the only ones who had been rafting before and we were on class 3 and 4 rapids.  Plus it rained in the morning before we went rafting so the water was pretty high and moving quickly.  It was a blast!  Luckily, we never fell out! 🙂  It was B-E-A-utiful!  At one time we went through a canyon and there was this old footbridge across the top.  It felt like we were on a Hollywood movie set.  There were a lot of waterfalls along the sides of the river and we saw some really cool touristy places as well.

In the afternoon, I went into Turrialba (the town closest to CATIE) and saw not much of anything.  I did, however, find a souvenir store and bought some pretty cool stuff.  That night was the long car ride back to San Jose.  In San Jose, I stayed at a pretty cool hotel with a huge bed, cable, and a private bathroom…moving up in the world of tourist hotels.  Haha!  I woke up super early in the morning because in Costa Rica it’s light outside at 5 am and got ready to go for a walk.  

I didn’t really have any destination or a very good map (plus streets in Costa Rica are NOT marked…) so I just started to wander.  I saw some pretty cool buildings, some government buildings, a couple of churches and a few parks.  Eventually I found a market which was also pretty neat.  I also found a strip club open at 9am on a Sunday at which point in time I figured I was not some place I should be and turned around and headed back to the hotel.  A short bus ride later, I was at the airport – just in time for the skies to open up and it to POUR rain.  Two flights and a van ride later, I was back in College Park.  Exhausted, but glad to be back as well.

Last week was spent catching up on emails and being busy with work things, a meeting at USAID and a meeting at the World Bank.  This weekend was relaxing but busy.  Elvis and I are rushing to fill a huge box with things for his parents and brothers and sisters.  If we send it by Friday, it will arrive in time for the fiestas and his Mom’s birthday.  We found a HUGE second hand store this weekend and bought tons of clothes and shoes for everyone.  I also found a couple of things for me.  I much prefer shopping in second hand stores to buying all of my things new.  For some reason I always find more things that I like there.

On Sunday Chicha and Meryl came over for soup and playing Luisa.  We also went to the lake near the house to walk for a bit since the leaves are changing colors and it’s absolutely beautiful.   The weekend went by way too quickly, but it’s okay, hopefully this week will, too.

It’s now COLD in DC – 53* is the high for today.  I don’t like that at all, but c’est la vie.  🙂  Guess I should start doing some work!

Here’s a link to the pictures from Costa Rica for those interested: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2023049&l=e388c&id=75900409.

Pura Vida

At least that’s what they say in costa rica – pure life.

I’ve been here almost a week and haven’t seen any of it…  I arrived late on Sunday night and boarded a bus.  I slept for the next 2 hours of the bus ride when we arrived in Turrialba.  We’re staying at CATIE the Center for Tropical Agriculture Investigation and Teaching (or something to that effect – http://www.catie.ac.cr).  It’s a very secluded place.  We’re kept inside the walls by a guard who works at the entrance and we’ve only been off campus once since arrival.   The center is used to do research and there are also Masters and PhD programs here…

Since Monday, I’ve basically been staring at a hundred thousand power point presentations about REDD – reducing emissions from deforestation and land degradation.  The idea is that countries that are forested and haven’t cut down their trees should be given an incentive for not cutting them down with the idea that cutting them down would release more greenhouse gases, leading to global warming and our eventual deaths (okay, so I wouldn’t go that far, but it will involve a lot of changes in all of our lives).  I’ve learned a lot about methodology, different projects, etc, and it has been great!  I’ve met  a lot of cool people from all over the globe.  And I’ve also learned that the real purpose of these conferences is not really to learn more information about the subject matter, but to meet people and make connections to improve your work – whether financially or otherwise.  Today was our big show – our project clinic.  We had 12 potential projects present, all of which have questions about methodologies or legality, etc, and we have them sitting down with experts in the themes and they are trying to figure out how to make their projects work.  Pretty cool.  I managed to escape to a little side room which has a good internet connection to be able to do this sort of stuff now, though I’ve mostly been able to check my email all week.

Tomorrow I’m going white water rafting!!!!  Then, hopefully on Sunday I’ll have a little bit of time to explore down town San Jose before I get on the plane to go back home and to real life.  Monday is NOT going to be a fun day.  I have a bunch of work that I need to catch up on.  I think I might stay home on Tuesday to be able to vote, plus I get a comp day for travelling on a weekend, so I might as well use it – I have to do a lot of laundry and Mom is not willing to share her new (front loading!) washer.

For now, though, I better post this before my internet connection disappears.  Peace, love and pura vida to all!

State Session

So last week I made an almost spur-of-the-moment decision to go to PA State Grange Session.  So I left my house super early on Saturday morning and drove to Lancaster.  Instead of showing up and being bored on Saturday morning, I picked up Philip and we went to meet Lauren at the Cherry Crest Farm Corn Maze.  This maze is HUGE.  5 1/2 acres.  It took us an hour and a half to get through, gathering almost all of the puzzle pieces (which help you to build the map and find your way out.  We ate some food and then had to run so that Philip would get back in time for the beginning of session and the youth officers drill.  While they were doing boring resolution work, I decided that I would sign a song in the competition the next day, so I worked on learning my song.  I had already learned how to sign “We Shall Be Free” by Garth Brooks several months ago, so I decided that I would do that at Session, since I hadn’t done it there before.  (I had never seen that video before I linked it in here and I literally got chills watching it!  There’s also a part where a woman signs “The earth doesn’t belong to us, we belong to the earth” which I thought was pretty cool!) 

The youth officers did their marching drill and closing which was pretty cool, then Philip, Mom, Dad and I went out for dinner at some Amish place.  Afterwards we went to the talent competition and saw Zech sing his song – and win!

Then there was the youth “party” and what a party it was.  With a full selection of fruits, vegetables, coffee and tea, the party got started on the right foot.  Soon the older people all went to bed, and a handful of us were left sitting around the hotel lobby talking about the future and reminiscing about Grange memories.  My head finally hit a pillow around 2:30am only to be awakened at 6:30.  I got up and got a shower, then introduced Mom and Dad to Panera before going to church service.

Church was okay.  Nothing Earth shattering.  Then Philip and I made a Staples run (to get my CDs and lyrics that I needed for the sign-a-song competition), went to the Jr. Degree (good job guys!) and to the Youth Luncheon which was NOT worth $15.  Right about 1:30 I decided I would give a prepared speech in the public speaking competition which started at 2.  (Thank goodness for wireless internet!)  So I researched and wrote a speech and outline as well as registered for both competitions in the half hour that followed.  I ended up winning both competitions and now go to the regional competition in New Jersey to compete in April.  These are the same competitions I used to do with some regularity and then I dropped off the face of the earth.  (This became more apparent to me as at least 5 people came up to me and asked if I’m now living state-side again.  It seems as though I haven’t been to a state-wide Grange function since I left to go to Ecuador!)

Got back to College Park around 7:30pm, watched Bailando Por un Sueno and fell asleep on the couch.  This week is full of workshop planning for the workshop in Costa Rica next week.  Trying to finalize the participants list and get people plane tickets.  Basically just going CRAZY! 🙂  

Pictures to come soon!

Here we go again…

So it has been 2 weeks since I’ve updated and I’m sure that a lot of incredibly fun things have happened since then.  And, actually, they have!

I don’t remember what happened the weekend after Mom and Dad came down…and there aren’t pictures, so that doesn’t help.  Must have involved relaxing at the house!  Gasp!  That would be something new and different!  Oh wait!  Now I remember!  Saturday involved taking Elvis’s cousins shopping at the mall and seeing Los Francos play at Cuzco Numero Dos.

The first weekend in October was very exciting!  Friday night we went to Latin Palace and I saw LAUREN for the first time in over a year!  Julia and Jacki came as did a bunch of Elvis’s friends.  It was a lot of fun! There was also a cumbia/reggaeton band that played there that night, so that was cool.  We also played a lot of foosball.  Then Lauren, Jacki and I slept over at Julia’s.  (The biggest success of the night was that I managed to parallel park my car ALL BY MYSELF!!!)  

Saturday morning we didn’t want to get out of bed, but eventually we headed to Mt. Lebanon for the PA Renaissance Faire.  We had a lot of fun seeing the different shows, eating some delicious soup and drinking some hot apple cider (it was really cool out that weekend).  Unfortunately I left my camera in my car, so I don’t have pictures, but Jacki should have some up sometime soon!

Sunday Elvis and I went to hike at Greenbelt State Park.  We did the 5 mile loop and saw a few deer and basically just enjoyed being outside for awhile!

Then there was another week full of work.  That wasn’t as much fun.

This weekend was fun as well.  Saturday we got up and headed to a farm in Germantown.  We walked around for a bit, went through the corn maze (incorrectly, I think).  And then went up to the pumpkin patch where Elvis chose a 40 pound pumpkin to carve.  He liked it because it’s slightly hour glass shaped and it was different from any other pumpkin in the patch.  We went back on the hayride, paid for the pumpkin, and headed to the house.  After a nap, we started to carve the pumpkin.  We had purchased a carving kit (with a mini-saw and everything!) and chose the Yoda design.  The next two or three hours were filled with trying to get the design right!  I attempted to toast the pumpkin seeds, but forgot about them in the carving madness and they ended up being black.  OOPS!  Saturday night we made ceviche and patacones and watched tv with Elvis’s cousin.

Sunday we went to the mall to buy bread…mmm…Then to visit with the boys that Elvis used to live with.  In the afternoon, Meryl and Chicha came over.  We played volleyball (Elvis and I won 16-14 both matches) and basketball (Meryl and I won 21-9).  By the time Elvis won Around the World it was so dark we could barely see, so we went back to the house and had bread with the hot coffee and tea and finished off the weekend by watching Bailando por un sueno.  Good times, good times. 🙂

P.S. You can see pictures from Mom and Dad’s visit and some of the other things mentioned in this post here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2022524&l=461e7&id=75900409.

about time

Well, I guess it’s about time I update this so that Mom and Dad don’t get mad about me updating about everything else in the world, except for when they come to visit.  Yes, that’s right, Mom and Dad came to visit last weekend (everyone should have gasped when they read that sentence right there.  See, it’s amazing because I lived at Juniata for 3 years and did they come visit?  No.  (Okay, so they were going to come visit once and it snowed 2 feet that day, but still there were other opportunities.)  I lived in Pittsburgh for 2 years and did they come visit?  No.  (At this point I should probably give them credit that they did come and visit when I was in Ecuador, but that kind of ruins the story.)  Anyway, I have now been in College Park for a grand total of 5 months (to the day – I moved down here April 26, into the apartment on the 27) and they come to visit.  Elvis says that the real reason they came to visit was for him, which is quite possible seeing as how his parents ask more about me than about him when they call and they’re excited that I might be planning another visit there. But I guess I should be happy they came to visit at all. 🙂

They decided to come down 11/15 instead of 322 which maybe I’ll do someday…we’ll see.  So we decided to meet them at El Gran Dia Chapin (people from Guatemala are called Chapines) at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.  We ate some Guatemalan food and listened to some really loud music.  First Checha y Su India Maya (a marimba band from Guatemala) and some other okay-ish acts.  There was also a Mayan group who did some traditional dances that represented a day in their life, a party, males “conquering” women, and some other people.  We walked around to the different booths (not very many) and relaxed for awhile.

Afterwards Mom and Dad came to the house where we made crabs (Mom and Elvis tortured the poor little guys!) and shrimp with alfredo pasta and broccoli.  Eating the crabs was an interesting adventure, but I think it turned out okay.  Then we went duck pin bowling.  It was a lot of fun.  None of us did spectacularly well, but it was fun and that’s all that matters.

Sunday we came into DC and went to the Natural History Musuem (Mom and Dad were disappointed by the Australian animals) and up the Washington Monument (which Elvis really enjoyed – he’s still telling his friends all about it).  Then we went out for a late lunch/early dinner at a Mexican/El Salvadorian place in Adelphi.  Mom and Dad headed home.  Elvis and I went to another Hispanic festival for a short while, then to talk with his friends.  Since then, it’s been work, work, work.  Wednesday I went to my first event at the World Bank which was really neat.  Yesterday and today it suddenly turned very cold in DC, but it’ll be okay, I hope.  Right now it’s raining which isn’t fun at all!  I hope it gets nicer this weekend – there’s another festival in DC this weekend!

Hopefully I’ll put up pictures from last weekend on Monday or early next week!

Camping trip #2

 

Thursday a friend of Elvis called and suggested we go camping for the weekend.  After a quick trip the grocery store (more like 4 quick trips to the grocery store) and 2 cars full of stuff later, we were on our way back to Tuckahoe (where Elvis and I went camping the weekend of my birthday).

 

Luckily the rain held off long enough on Friday for us to get the tents set up and a fire started, but we were mostly drenched by the time the food was actually cooked.  The good part about the rain was that it kept the bugs away!  After we ate some carne asada and tamales, we played cards in my tent for awhile before turning in for an early bed time.  

Saturday we were up and at ’em pretty early.  Luckily there was no more rain the rest of the weekend.  We walked from the tents to the lake (which didn’t seem nearly as far this time as it did the last time), rented canoes, fished and ate.  I won the fisher(wo)man of the weekend award as I caught over 20 fish!  Almost every time I casted, there was a bite at the other end.  For a little bit, the pole I was using had 2 hooks on it and a couple of times I pulled out 2 fish with 1 cast!  We fished until sometime in the afternoon when we headed back to the campground, made lunch and showered.  We played cards, listened to music and relaxed until Chicha showed up a little bit later.  Then we made dinner and sat around the fire telling jokes and chatting until we ran out of firewood.

Sunday Chicha wanted to go fishing again, so after breakfast we headed down to the lake and river.  The fish weren’t biting nearly as much as they had the day before, though Elvis and I still managed to catch a handful before we were bored of fishing.  We rented a canoe and a kayak and, after I taught the boys some maneuvering, everyone had a turn in each.  It was interesting watching them change places in the canoe and switch from the canoe to the kayak in the middle of the lake, but they made it safely!  The boys also rescued a family who got their boat stuck on a tree in the “flooded woodland” section of the lake.  After we had had enough, we ate some lunch and headed to Sandy Point (again).  We swam for a little bit before we got into a volleyball match with 3 guys from India.  We kicked their butts, so they went to find some friends.  What really happened was we ended up with 7 a side, which caused too much confusion and ended up with a bunch of people who didn’t really know how to play, but that’s okay.  We ended up winning the first game and losing the second two, but who’s counting?  It was cool, though, because they were speaking Hindi, we were speaking Spanish and the common language was English.  I think we ended up with 3 Americans, 2 Guatemalans and 9 Indians playing…cool stuff.

Yesterday was work and kicking Elvis’s butt in basketball.

Today back at work then to the soccer field.

I wish the election were over already.

Here's one of my (slightly edited) favorite pics from the weekend.

Here's one of my favorite (slightly edited) pics from the weekend.