un año mas

It seems as though it came and went in the blink of an eye. 27 months. A roller coaster of emotions; extreme highs and lows of successes and failures. A language learned and a culture deeply appreciated. The sweetest people entering my life, and the profound relationships built on such a simple concept of exchange.

My 24 months serving as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer and three months of training in the beautiful country of Costa Rica have truly been an indescribable life changing experience. Life has been so good, that a couple months ago, I was granted the opportunity to stay with Peace Corps for one more full year! I recently began my third and final year as a Peace Corps Volunteer! I am thankful for this opportunity to continue with the current projects and really map out a strong future of sustainability not only for the village where I have been living, but also for my personal and professional future.

I had been fortunate enough to go home to the states for a month before embarking on my final year with Peace Corps to spend time with family and friends. I had gotten a glimpse into something I had really forgotten – the life as an American in America. It was lavish and luxurious full of options, accessibility and convenience. It was a great time. I smiled and danced – just like before. But the difference is, this time, post 2 years of service, there was something missing, and more so than ever, I could see and feel the different person I have become. It really was a mental (and sometimes physical) struggle of leaving the simple life behind, and pretending to be just like the “others” of my homeland. I have come to see one of the hardest parts of living abroad, is coming home.

Among many, many things, the past two years have taught me the importance of true personal relationships. When you take the water and glitter out of a snow globe, you’re just left with those simple figurines inside. You can shake it up all you want, but there is nothing left to spice it up- no more falling snow or splish splashing glitter. In the past, my relationships with people have been filled with the fluffy stuff – the distractions of fluffy glitter and it easily consumed who I was and made it hard to see whom others were. Now, I long for nothing more than to be one of those lonely figurines in an empty snow globe away from everything that isn’t true. Being without distractions in a community so small and with little resources is a humbling change of pace. Sometimes I feel so bare – without the comforts I’m accustomed to, to quickly throw over me, or the easy available distractions preventing to not think so much about the raw true existences we are.

As I come back, diving into this year headfirst ,and I feel as if coming up for air isn’t as easy as I remember. Tumbling beneath the waves lost in what is up and what is down. I know I won’t drown but I worry about the next crashing wave. Sometimes the insecurities get the best of me – being the only different in a sea of sames. Feeling like my best isn’t good enough. Or going at a mediocre pace when I want to excel. These are normal human feelings, but when they are raw – without those fluffy distractions – they seem 100 times heavier and 100 times more difficult to lift myself out of the mud.

No matter the day, or the feeling, I always try and get out at least once a day, wipe the mud off my feet, even if it’s down the street to my host grandparents house to sit on their porch beneath the rain and cherish the precious moments with people I’ve come to love and have come to love me. Being social in the community is work in the community. My work in the community is my priority; however, development is a tricky subject, especially in a short time span of 2-3 years. Sometimes I feel as though my days and efforts disappear into a black hole. I wonder if the two or even three years will leave a mark with the community on a project of sustainability. When I arrived here, I just wanted to make a difference even if it just be in one persons life, and enjoy the experience while exchanging with another culture, but now, it is truly about seeing a change in the quality of life for these people that have become so close to my heart.

This next year is truly devoted to the little corner of Costa Rica called Colonia Libertad, but also focusing on my growth as a young woman. It’s about solidifying those true relationships, friendships, and family I’ve been so blessed to find here. It’s about learning to be myself away from the false and understanding it, while at the same time breaking down those walls of insecurities and doubts. It’s about being strong enough to enter a world full of illusions but bounce back into a world of pure reality; more so, about finding which world truly is the reality, because there is only one…..

“La perdida” 

Yes I will admit I have been “la perdida” (the lost one) in terms of blogging. I’m sorry that I haven’t been keeping you all in the loop! I’ll keep this short, sweet, and to the point! 

Life in Costa Rica has been great. I remember before coming here I tried to eliminate any expectations and just dive into the experience with a blank slate – ready to learn and ready to live. I have been in country for almost 17 months now and can tell ya I have been doing just that! Live & learn! 

I might be what some call a “site rat” in which I don’t leave my community too often. I live away from central hubs so sitting in a bus for 12 hours in the heat sometimes isn’t worth 4 hours on the beach! The past couple months I’ve gotten to travel around the province of guanacaste which is along the pacific coast and is known for its year round beach weather in the country so that has been a treat! Another reason why I’m quite a site rat would be the disconnect i feel from community members and my projects when i leave. The idea of traveling for leisure is much different in the eyes of us “Norte americanos” than it is for a rural and more or less poor Costa Rican. 

Many of you have been asking me or asking yourselves WHAT IS SHE DOING THERE! … Here are some highlights of what I call my HANDFULL PLUS 2 (EIGHT!) projects that I have been focusing on this past year and the year to come. Ready. Set. Go. 

La asociación de desarrollo (the development assocation) – this group serves similar to any local body of government with a president, vice pres, treasure, secretary, etc. I work very closely with this group and I enjoy it because all of the projects and activities serve the community as a whole. Currently I am working on 2 projects with them and both projects are extremely ambitious. The first is in collaboration with funds from peace corps aka your tax dollars, we are hoping to put in a futbol 5 field and a health exercise gym. These serve both as a business for the ADI and as an opportunity to promote health to all community members. Futbol 5 is a sinthetic soccer field in which there are two 5 people teams. Each team pays the equvilant of 12$ per game  ($24 total) and we’re hoping for at least 1 game per night and more on the weekends. The gym will serve more for the women of the community and will charge around 10$ a month. With the amount of rain in the area it is hard for women to stay active. With the money earned with the gym and the field, the ADI must colon rate with the community and present at least 6 projects in which they will execute during the following fiscal year. And of course, the promotion of health, recreation, and a safe place for youth and community members to occupy will be open to the public! 

The other project with the ADI is an agriculture cooperative between 10 chosen families in the community in which “the lions club” (similar to rotary club) has offered us a direct deal with produce markets in bigger cities. This eliminates any middle man fee so the families will receive direct profit for their produce. We had a meeting with the president of the club last week and he said to us, “con comida, hay vida,” – with food there is life. This struck a chord with me because many people in my community do not have jobs and this man reminded them that if there is food, we are alive. It’s as simple as that. The idea is to unite the families to work together and build a stronger concept of family and in the end, hopefully make a great profit from their hard work in the farming of the produce. It’s also to reinstall the agricultural foundation in which this community was funded to the youth.

Youth group – probably my favorite ! Since I’ve been in site, I’ve started up a youth group of about 15 kids from my community ranging in ages 12-20 both girls and boys, different religions, attending different high schools, and coming from different family and life values. We try and meet every week but because of the high school schedules sometimes it ends up being less. Our current goal is to redo the park in the community and put a stage to promote theater, music, and art and more than anything a safe place for the youth to gather. They also want to put in a water fountain, a jungle gym, new benches, tables and pretty flowers 🙂 they do different events in the community like movie nights or bingos in which they raise money. Our goal is $1000 before we start purchasing items and right now we are $800! All of the money is hard earned by them and the idea is that with this hard work, they will feel responsible for taking care of the park. I love the time I spend with them and the relationships I’ve built with them. Each one is very special to me. We talk about continuing their educations and/or finding a place in the community by entering the agriculture side. They are everything to me and sometimes I think more than anything is because as most of you know – I myself grew up fast and skipped those teen years. The Latin culture is very similar – and I try to urge them to enjoy being young. 

Recycling committee – also another favorite! We currently received a grant from peace corps and world connect to purchase 4 recycling bins for every house in the community (only 65 houses). The idea is that community members practice separating their recycling in their homes- a bin for each plastic, glass, cans, & paper/carton.  As we have no sort of trash system here, we have to result to burning or burying our trash. We want to maximize recycling and minimize smoke / pollution! We’ve joint forces with the elementary school witha “pick-up” program in which every other Thursday kids from each neighborhood have to bring the recycling bags that each house sets out on the street. Once every 3 months a truck from a city 4 hours away comes to pick up our recycling but we have to pay them 80$ plus our recyclables for the cost of the trip. We are looking into a more efficient way.  We are also looking into building or purchasing a trash incinerator because there are several unrecyable items (septic tanks don’t hold toilet paper here). This has been a very educational project for everyone in the town and everyone has really United for the benefit of the environment  of the beautiful rain Forrest that we live in. 

Empresa de crédito business of creditI also work witha local banking business here but I dont hold much knowledge in this department so I try and help with basic organization and technology skills. The bank gives out loans to qualified candidates with sustainable projects at an interest rate. Anyone (preferably locals) can purchase shares and the interest between all loans is then divided between share holders at the end of the year. I still am working the ropes to fully understand the process, especially in Spanish, but I hope to lend more of an organizational hand of help to this local banking system before I part ways with peace corps.

Grupo de mujeres (women’s group) – this project was started by the pervious peace corps volunteer that served in my community and I have been helping to expand on the original ideas. Last year the group built an adorable little cabin in which they make jewelry, arts and crafts, and cook/sell amazing typical Costa Rican food. We do have a small influx of tourists that visit a local tourist ranch in the community and the owner has a genourous program in which tourists can tour the women’s group home. Our current project is also quite ambitious. We have been doing extensive research on how to extract PURE ginger oil from ginger root. If this process goes well, we have a donation of ginger root and we will grow it in excess and bottle and sell the oil to tourists and any market (local/global) that we can find. Pure ginger oil is difficult to make and hard to find BUT ginger is easy to grow where  we live and the women are very dedicated to the process so the odds are in our favor! 

Finca la Anita – the finca la Anita is the only tourism location in the community. It is a beautiful Eco style ranch with 7 cabins that recieves a small influx of tourists whom are looking for a rural and natural Costa Rican experience. I work with the owners to bridge any sort of tour in which the tourists can interact with the local community members. Sometimes we do community service projects if it’s a group of American students visiting the farm like paint the women’s group cabin or weed their garden. We also visit the elementary school where kids will have pen pal programs and then are given the opportunity to plant trees together donated by the owners Of the ranch! Recently the owners have ventured into a chocolate making business because they grow coacoa on the farm! It’s delicious and can range up to 100% pure dark choclate! They employ a majority of the town (10 people) so it’s always a pleasure to see both ends of the business spectrum. 

English! Lastly and least lay there is english. Yes, this is my least favorite project but always in demand. I mainly work with one elementary teacher in improving her English and English teaching techniques. I used to actually help her teach classes but I found it more sustainable and useful to spend one on one time with her so she is more independent in the classroom. I also help the high school kids with study groups and this year alone we have been seeing an improvement in grades. Often people will come to me asking for help with pronunciation or vocabulary, especially people who work at the farm with the tourists to became more qualified employees. Costa Rica is quickly becoming what some might consider a bilingual country especially in the more tourist developed areas so it is crucial to learn English. 

Aside from community projects I also hold a couple roles with peace corps by serving on the diversity committee and also a member of a group of volunteers who serve as resources for all volunteers  for a measuring and reporting system all volunteers must participate in. 

I know I said short but I guess this is what I get for not keeping up with the blogging process! But as you can see I am busy but believe it or not with all of this there still are days in which I have nothing to do. These are all projects that are dependent on the passion, motivation, and work of community members. Some of them are merely an idea- a tiny seed planted that needs the water sunlight, and care to grow. They may die off and fail – that would break my heart a little bit but that is the name of the game in development. I cannot be the leader and/or the foundation of any of these projects it must come from their brains, hearts, and hands. I will keep you updated on the process – send me some good vibes! And keep your eyes peeled for ways you may be able to help! 

Like I said, there are days in which I don’t do much. There is lots and lots of rain here right now so it can get a little stir crazy. I read or draw or write. But most of the time if I’m not working on projects or in meetings, I am with my host family or a dear family from the community where we pass the time with cafecitos and gossip. 🙂 I recently got a puppy and her name is California and is definitely more popular than me! She is a great companion and learning tricks quickly! 

Life has been good.  I feel comfortable saying I have never seen the world so clear through these brown eyes of mine. To me things used to be an hour glass – sand rushing through the middle never knowing which part is up and which is down. Nor knowing what the race against time was. I am beginning to see life a little clearer and more tranquil. The sand is settling – the water less murky. But of course there are the days when it’s all shoken up and I loose my place for a moment but it always settles – sometimes may takes days but it will settle. 

I’m not sure what the future holds. I have thought about extending with peace corps to see out these handful of projects I have going. time passes so quickly and I only have 9 months left here! And really the last 3 months we are in the closing part of our service and can’t do much. We’ll see! I will be sure to keep you all updated. 

I miss you all so much and hope that we can all cross paths one way or another some time soon. Of course I will be coming home next summer to stand by my beautiful cousin on  

 her big day. Sending lots of love and PURA VIDA! 

Here are some pictures to enjoy 

  My host brothers, mom and little niece!    An organization donated cleats to all the kids at my escuela! 
 A little dinner with my youth group! 

    Some friends came to visit for the Cabalgata (horse parade). Chosen princess 😂
  Went to visit a friends site where the tradition is to hunt alligators! 

   Here i am being the towns princess? 
 Youth group meeting in my house. 

   Painted the fence yellow! 
 Hiking a valcano boy was that hard! 

   Making tamales to sell with the women’s group! 
 Youth group painting the aqueduct tank! 

   FreeZing river bht they say once you get in you never leave! Uh oh! 

  When I just got Cali!   One of the projects the local bank helped fund – dairy farm 
  Some of my best friends in peace corps!   Soccer game 
   My peace corps tico group!    The volunteers in the northern zone of the country (basically Nicaragua !) 
   Cali with all her new toys grandma penny sent her!   New hammock for the balcony. 
  Best friends!   Just drying some clothes 
   Cali digging holes    Cali relaxing 
  Ba group of students from the states helping the women’s group with the ginger extraction project  tourists buying jewelry from the women’s group
  My host brother and I exploring some rivers    Cali loves to swim! 
  One of my best gals I met in peace corps!    Off exploring pretty beaches! 
    Celebrating quarter of a century! 
   My youth group threw me a surprise birthday party!    I love these kids! 
   Cooking and cleaning with the kids preparing for an event   Yes this oldie still plays soccer! Talking with the engineer of the futbol 5 field and the president of the lions club before my game! 
  Enjoying some coco with my bestie from Milwaukee!    Enjoying some “copos” with my bestie from Thousand Oaks! 
   What a sight!   Oh yea and then there’s this ❤ 

Un año

I’ve spent the past few years of my life convincing myself to not let time define me. To not let the span of a year be the definition of my self progress on any level. To keep moving forward and to keep growing. I hold strong to my notion to not let the days on the calendar or the hands on the clock guide me with any hold. Too much time has been wasted on measurements – on simple measure of times in which we as humans have zero control over.

BUT….All of that goes out the window for this year that has just passed! It has been quite a significant year to not consider noteworthy. This past year has probably been one of the most life changing years of my life and has shaped me into the person I strongly feel I am today – whom was a very different person just 366 short but sometimes very long days ago.

Living on the island of Maui, Hawaii the year before peace corps was pure bliss. Beach by day and bonfire by night – just mentally preparing myself the best I could to board a plane and leave behind everything I had done – which at the time felt like not much. I learned I didn’t have to depend on anyone for a glass of happiness…I myself was the creator of that glass. It was difficult leaving that island even as the new independently happy person I grew to be, but I was ready to put purpose to my life.

Little did I know that sometimes here in Costa Rica as a peace corps volunteer and sometimes as a human in general, I had never felt so purposeless. Don’t worry that is just the Peace Corps roller coaster speaking 😉 but in all seriousness, there are days where I ask myself “what the hell am I doing here and why?” Some things really frustrate me, some things make me cry, some things are incomprehensible, and some things just make me feel like I can’t wait to get out of here. But those are the bad days….the really bad days. The good thing about those bad days….? They make me appreciate the heck out of the good days.
Some days I make progress with a community relationship or a project. Some days I spend all day gossiping with 70 year olds. Some days I come home and just can’t stop smiling. When everyone shouts my name when I walk down the street it makes be feel like I belong there. One thing for sure is that Every day I amaze myself more and more with my Spanish. Some days are days full of work and I feel accomplished and some days are full of nothing but I still feel accomplished because me days are so important (aka force myself to write blog). Some days I feel lazy and useless and then I have to kick myself in the butt and force myself to go play soccer and sweat a bit!

I’ve learned so much about myself and so much about other people this last year. People – no matter their culture – will always be people. They have all the possibilities in the world. They can bring out the good in your life or they can bring out the bad. I really have never felt so loved by my host family here and I will forever be indebted in love and caring to them. The youth here are probably one of the most important things to me. Just believing in them and enjoying the silly relationships but sometimes very serious relationships we have come to be. Those are the good. And the bad, well we don’t need to get into that but let’s just say something i am learning is to not be so sensitive. As the tico’s say here “no haga caso” which basically means don’t let it bother you or don’t make a big deal out of it. This may or may not be my personal slogan right now. 🙂

Life has been good the past year. It has passed so quickly I can hardly believe it. I can hardly believe I will be turning 25 here in a couple months. Where does the time go!? Well….it just goes….that’s what happens! It disappears into thin air and we have no physical means in reproducing the time we have already lost. Every day here is a day gained for me. A day where I learn more, see more, meet more people. It’s all a plus. So I can’t focus on what I’ve lost – including the time. The minutes and hours and days will always be disappearing- what’s important is how you fill those moments and in the end – the person who comes out smiling from it all.

I don’t know what the next year will entail and I definitely do not know my plan after peace corps. Right now I am just soaking up the moments. Sometimes I hope it passes quickly so I can get back and start my life and sometimes I hope it passes slowly so i can enjoy the little time I have left with my community.

I miss you all so much and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your amazing support this past year.

Xo Aimee



What an adventure it has been. I have been in Costa Rica now for a little shy of a year. I didn’t believe our training staff and previous volunteers when they told me it would be the most bi-polar roller coaster I’d ever been on.

I was blessed enough to have been able to go home for about a month over the holidays due to some health complications with some ear pressure that was reoccurring. I was excited but nervous to take so much time away from my projects and community but anxious to spend some quality time with my family after so much time away from California.

My mind was refreshed and I didn’t realize how much good it did for me to go home and come back with a new perspective. Life is funny like that. Things can seem so normal and of the ordinary and when you take a step away, the leap back can be fearful, but once you make it, you look behind and see the growth you have made and it Is all worth it. I remember when I was younger I would be so scared to make the first turn on black diamond on the ski mountain. Every turn would be maticously planned with a random spirt of freestyle. After I finally took those last turns I’d stand in awe at the bottom of the hill looking at the monster of a mountain I just took on. Me, Feeling so small in size against the snow but my satisfaction being as big as the highest peek in the basin.

Sometimes I’m here in Costa Rica. Carving those turns into every inch of my life – my work, my relationships, the present, the future. Sometimes i forget to look back up at the mountain I have just defeated, or even gaze in the beauty of my accomplishments. That’s something i must continue to work on.

Life back in the village has been a way easier adjustment that I had imagined. I guess when you live in a place of less than 200 people it doesn’t take long for everyone to know your back in action!

I finally moved into my own house that my host family and I spent the last 3 months building. It truly is a little slice of heaven. Living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and an amazing balcony with the best views! I’m slowly getting settled in and today was my first day cooking breakfast. I’m not going to lie – it has been a little lonely as I am used to living with my host family but they are always stopping by and a little privacy has been nice.

The kids are still on vacation from the holidays so there aren’t too many people in town right now. I am hoping the month of February will be full of project ideas.

I’m feeling in a great place mentally and physically. I feel lucky. Lucky to be alive. Lucky for my family in the states and the family I have gained here in Costa Rica. I feel lucky to have had the power to forgive and the willingness to open my heart. I’ll be 25 this year. That’s half the amount of time my father lived and a quarter of the time I hope to live. I know he’s with me on this journey. I know he’s taking the turns with me just like he did on those sunshiney days on the mountain. I know he’ll sit at the bottom of that hill with me and we can stare up at those accomplishments together.

Here’s some pictures to enjoy. Love and miss you all.

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Aimee goes to Nicaragua

A couple weeks ago I got back from an amazing volunteer trip to Nicaragua!

I was able to be apart of an awesome non profit called Global Potential which focuses in empowering youth in community development and sharing experiences with youth members from across the globe. . It’s an awesome organization go check out this video. Nicaragua Global Potential 2014: http://youtu.be/lzuo9B4m0Gs

The idea was to bring a youth member from my community to the youth conference but unfortunately I couldn’t find anyone in my town that had a passport so I had to make the “viaje”alone. I am sure this will scare my family but I have actually grown to enjoy my travels alone. Cooped up in “chicken busses” alone with only my thoughts and the occasional exchange between locals. I had no problems on my trip deep into rural Nicaragua but I will not say it wasnt a very interesting, long adventure!
After 10 hours of traveling on a hot crowded bus, and the lady in front of me urinating herself, I had to remind myself to let the breeze take my hair and to enjoy the untraveled roads in front of me. I finally got to El Hatillo, a rural village in Nicaragua and was welcomed by the nicest people and some eager young students from the global potential program who are uniquely from the US, Dominican republic, & Haiti.

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Nicaragua and Costa  Rica have an interesting relationship. You could similarly compare it to the relationship between California and Mexico. Financially and governmentally, Costa Rica and Nicaragua are very different, so in turn, there are problems with immigration and very harsh racism with Costa Rica being considered the more stable country.
El Hatillo is a small town but vibrant with energy from the youth. Lacking a water, sewage, and trash system, i was immediately greeted with a glimpse into the foundation of the town’s needs; which seemed to be spearheaded by the youth.

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Despite everything I had heard or been warned about Nicaragua and Nicaraguans, I only experienced pure and simple interactions with the most honest intentions to better the quality of life. I stayed with a family who so gently opened their doors and their hearts to me and was able to laugh and dance with the 3 young girls of the house until the clock struck 10 and we rushed home in the muddy streets and collapsed into our beds laughing and gossiping about the boys they thought were cute.

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It felt no different than when I was 15 and it reminded me how we are all one of the same. We share the same hopes, desires, dreams…it just so happens these kids were not given the same opportunities as us. Leaving the community was hard for me because for some reason I felt like I was letting them down by walking away.
The awesome thing about the conference was I was able to see all of the youth of the surrounding communities come together and work on brainstorming ideas of projects to better their communities. Mind you, these are young teenagers, basically adopting the roles of city planners in rural development. These kids were very smart and I am so thankful to have had their amazing light, even just for a few days. I will definitely be going back.

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I remember when I was in limbo waiting to get my invitation for peace corps, the placement officer called me and told me he thought I may be too compassionate to be a peace corps volunteer and it completely boggled my mind. How could my compassion possibly interfere with my desire to serve and volunteer?! But sometimes I understand. Getting on the bus to leave El Hatillo was hard. Leaving a town that is centuries behind our standards of living in the states -Latrines outside, bathing by bucket or river, wood stoves for cooking, and miles away from a store. It just didn’t sit well with me knowing how different and contently I live in the states. Yes, I was getting on a bus to return to my small rural village of Costa Rica who is greatly benefiting from my work in economic development but I still couldn’t hold back the tears when my 3 Nicaraguan sisters walked me to the bus stop at 5 in the morning to wave me off.

I don’t known if it compassion that stands in the way…maybe it is passion to do more. I kept replaying those smiles and laughs in my head from all the wonderful people I met and had to remind myself they are not unhappy people and maybe don’t even consider their lives as poverty stricken, because to me, they were rich with eagerness to live, and happy to be alive.

I am back in Costa Rica and currently at a peace corps training in the capital (San Jose) with all of my fellow volunteers. It is so good to see them! It has been 3 months since I have seen them last! Time is flying by so fast. Here is a pic of us before departing again for what is another 6 months before being together again!

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Long time, no talk!

Hello my dearest family, friends, and followers!

Sorry I have been so out of touch! But just wanted to update you that life sure is sweet 🙂

As much as I just want to gush every aspect of life here in rural Costa Rica, I find it hard to successfully transfer all that is going because it is just SO MUCH. Normally I am good with words! But to help you try and understand, here are some pictures!! Gotta go! Internet time is out!!

The womens group casita!

The womens group casita!

or less) round down on a week at my Peace Corps site!

One of my favorite little munchkins!

One of my favorite little munchkins!

A kid to kid pen pal program we have from the USA

A kid to kid pen pal program we have from the USA


This picture literally makes my heart smile

This picture literally makes my heart smile


the elementary kiddos

the elementary kiddos

It’s official!

It's official!

Here I go!! After my speech today at the Ambassador’s house! Will not have much access to the internet during these next 2 years but I will try and stay in as much contact as possible. Thank you for all of the support everyone. Love you!!

Site assignment “Colonia Libertad”

What a weekend! The anticipation for site assignment day has been built up since the day I boarded the plane those 2 long months ago. I couldn’t be any happier and excited about my placement! I am headed to Colonia Libertad. I know that means nothing to you and unfortunately, you won’t be able to find it on a map but there are some photos below. I am in the province of Alejuela, very close to the Guanacaste boarder. My town is located close to Volcan Rincon de Viaje.

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I am following a current volunteer who leaves at the end of July. It is not extremely common to follow volunteers but it happens. In the case of this site, there is still much more potential for economic growth so the town and the volunteer requested that a second volunteer come. Annnd here I go! I feel extremely lucky to have gotten placed in this site. It is a dream site with dream projects and community members. There is small presence of rural tourism already and hopes to increase.

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I will be close to "aguas claras"

The town has lots of farming which is an asset to the rural tourism. There is a bed and breakfast type farm  (La Anita Rainforest Ranch) that is a perfect getaway located in a jungle like feel. Tourists have the opportunity to get a real feel for the country of Costa Rica with farming, eating fresh farmed produce, aromatic/medicinal plants, hand made artisan goods, and a real tranquila feel. The town requested the next volunteer continue on rural tourism projects, along with women/youth groups in relation to environmental awareness and sports, recycling projects, business plans, and working closely with the “empresio de credito.” Empresio de credito is a local banking system that is present in most communities within the country. It is basically a loan/share holder banking system for community members.

All in all, I am ecstatic to be getting out of my comfort zone and to live my life with the purest intent to learn from the people of my new community. This will be my home for the next 2 years. I can’t say with more confidence that I am in the absolute right place, doing the right thing.
Thank you again to everyone for your support.

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Vac tail party! Met tons of current volunteers!

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Rio Celeste! Not too far away

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Volcan Miravalles. Another volcano close by!

Dear Dad

DISCLAIMER:

First off, I want to thank everyone for their amazing support through everything. The past 9 years have been a journey beyond explanation. Not just a journey for me, but a journey for all of my family and my friends and I deeply thank all of you who have supported me. I debated about posting this letter because it was something I privately wrote here in Costa Rica after feeling like I needed an outlet, especially being so far away from home with little access to chat with my family or close friends. I thought about it, and my process of grieving has been pretty open, not only with my blog, but with many people that have recently walked into my life. I want to share this with you because I feel like for me, it has been a reminder to not suppress my emotions because of a fear of judgement, insecurity, embarrassment, or fear of the outcome of ‘feeling.’ 

Tomorrow I find out where in Costa Rica I will be living for my Peace Corps service for the next 2 years. Ironically, this is the day my dad passed. It is just a day. Just another day on the calendar, but the day brings sadness in my heart for I wish I could rewind the past 9 years and have that one last moment with my dad again. My friends and I, here in Costa Rica, have anxiously been awaiting this day since the day we stepped foot in country because site assignment means so much to service. No matter what, May 9 always means a lot to me so you can imagine my emotions. I know it is not just irony of the dates, but a sign from the pops to not stress about things out of my control, and to not let his passing control my Peace Corps service here in Costa Rica; it’s all about finding the balance. 

Again, thank you so much to everyone for your support. I received tons of memories from friends and families and I will forever cherish them. Thank you to all of my new friends as well who have come into my life within the past couple years and have allowed me to share my story with you. 

For my family, who I know this will be hard to read, I hope these memories are able to bring us all together in our hearts. I know these days are hard for us, but to me, it is now Derek’s Day. Keep the balance in your lives to push forward, but to forever remember his precious life. And I promise, I will be okay 🙂

 

sail away
Dear Dad,

 Just am writing to say hello. I miss you much, too much. I don’t really even know what to say. But I wish I could give you a giant hug. I would be okay just sitting in your presence, no words necessary. I am sure we could understand each other just from sitting hand to hand without a word being said.

 I feel like I don’t try and speak to you as often as I could and I am sorry for that. I think of you every day, but at times it feels like you only existed in my dreams. Wonderful dreams of skiing and sitting on the beach. Dreams of laughter and love. Dreams that I thought would never end. They don’t because I replay them in my head every day but I know they are now intangible.

 I do not want to feel sad that you are not here. I do not want to feel weak. I do not want to feel as though my grief has had the ability to weigh me down. I strive to feel strong and powerful. Content with where I am. I sometimes wonder if you sacrificed your life to provide me with this strength; to guide me from above instead of next to me. We both know that my path to where I am now was not simple, but you knew all along I would be okay. You trusted me. I have to remind myself that.

 I think of your ice blue eyes and your funny dancing. Your mickey mouse shirt and your Lakers hat. I tear up just thinking of your empty spot at Round Hill where the sand misses your umbrella and the water misses your crazy jet skiing and canon balls. I laugh thinking about long road trips to soccer tournaments and you letting us crazy kids hang our socks out the windows and blast rap music. You were the best. I only hope I can be half the parent and half the friend you were to me.

 I don’t even know where I would start if you and I could sit down and have a conversation today. Nine years have passed too quickly. No longer a father and his teenage daughter, but a father and his adult daughter. I’d imagine we would be talking about politics, sports, boyfriends, traveling the world. Or maybe we would just sit there and smile; I’d be okay with that. When I was 12 we would stay up all night talking about life. Talking about aspirations and my future. Here I am…all of these years later…

 I can close my eyes and imagine your cheesy Frank Sinatra impressions that quickly turned into shuffling the song to Micheal Jackson and your silly white boy dancing. I can taste your cooking of “ski slop” and tater tots. I can hear your laugh as you dragged me out of school and we played hookie for the day to go on our own adventures. I remember how special I felt to have my dad care so much about me. You wanted nothing but happiness for me. You gave me your world. 

 You loved me so much. You loved your son so much. You loved my mom so much. Your mother and your father. Your sister and brother, their kids. And your best friend and his family. In your short life, and my short life of being with you, you have taught me so much about family and friendship. You left such a special print in our lives. Your spirit lives on with us every day. We laugh about stories, and cry that you are not sitting at the table with us clinking wine glasses and playing board games. We missed you at your nephew’s wedding (soon to be parents) or cheering on your niece on her promotions. We miss you at college graduations and opening college acceptance letters with your son. We miss you cursing at the television during Lakers games and happy dancing after a Dodger’s win. We miss you so much dad.

 At times it is hard to accept, but I know you are with me. I know I am your little girl. I only wish I could know you now. I wish you could know me now; Know each other as adults. But I will find it in my heart to get to know you through the memories you have given me, through your friends and our family, and through my own journey. I will continue to live my life with your influence and your heart. You were an amazing friend, an amazing father, an amazing son, and an amazing person. You never judged anyone. You only wanted the best for everyone. Your adventurous mentality was contagious.

 Every year that passes is another year without you. But time elapsing does not define who I am, who you were, or the relationship we had. Your memory is concreted with every step I take. I am not the little girl you left too soon. I am no longer the girl lost without her father. I am now a 24-year-old woman. I am living in Costa Rica serving in the Peace Corps. I have been thrashed by the waves of life, but I am standing tall. I am climbing up that mountain. I don’t even mind if I never reach the top, I just am climbing…pushing myself. I know you are proud. I am proud to call myself your daughter. You will forever be the biggest part of my heart, and the strongest part of my soul. You will forever be the most important man in my life. And I will forever be your girl.

 Cheers to May 9. Derek’s day. Your day.

 Thank you for all of your gentle signs that keep me going. I know you are with me on this journey.

 Love Aimee Lyn

 PS Go Dodgers

family

ski

mom

palm springs

joe

Weekend getaway to Manuel Antonio/Quepos

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Photo from Alex!

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Lounging for $4/day!!!

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Awesome hostel!!

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Rice and bean diet haha