POSTED BY: ERIKA
There are two reasons to celebrate today!! The obvious…4th of July (yay for BBQs and fireworks!) but more importantly, today is worth celebrating because I am finally featuring my wonderful sister Andrea!
She’s the one on the horse if you couldn’t tell ;)
Ever since I started doing Wild Wednesday posts, I couldn’t wait to her! BUT…I had to wait until she returned from Costa Rica, where she was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer for 2 years and 3 months. She returned to the states a few weeks ago and has been transitioning back to life here in the U.S.
She lived in a 300 person town called Colonia La Libertad which is surrounded by a volcano and the beautiful Costa Rican forest! As you can see from the picture above, she had no problem transitioning to her new life…we actually joke that she is now more Costa Rican then Oregonian ;)
Something that I have always admired about my sister is her drive and dedication. She always has a plan and follows through with it. The Peace Corps was no exception. I remember back in high school, she said she was going to be in the Peace Corps and 6 years later we were at PDX sending her off on her journey. If there is one person I know who is true to their word and who follows their dreams, it’s my sister!
I hope you enjoy reading more about my older sister Andrea who I admire and love so much!
1) There are very few people who set goals in high school and then 6 years later actually follow through with them. That is just one of the amazing things about you! So tell me…how did you know way back then that you wanted to be a Peace Corps volunteer?
Oregon is lucky enough to be the home of lots of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, so I got the chance to talk to them about their adventures and experiences during their service. With all their fascinating stories about living abroad, I knew it was something I had to do. Peace Corps volunteers are interested, motivated, compassionate individuals who want to make the world a better place. I feel fortunate to be a part of the PC community!
2) You’ve always had the “travel bug.” What about traveling and living in other countries is most appealing to you?
I LOVE traveling. Meeting new friends, trying new foods, experiencing new cultures, learning languages, and being challenged are the most appealing aspects. I think its important to remember that we are global citizens and traveling is the best way to experience the lives of others.
3) Of all the countries in the world, you were very fortunate to have been been assigned Costa Rica. Can you describe the community the community that you grew to love so much?!
My community is called Colonia La Libertad (The Colony of Liberty) and it is located in the province of Alajuela in the northwest corner of Costa Rica in between two volcanoes. The community is comprised of 250 people and most families dedicate themselves to subsistence agriculture. Traditional crops include corn, beans, sugar cane, pineapple, bananas, plantains, heart of palms, avocados, cucumbers, and salad greens. We are also lucky enough to lots of fruit trees including oranges, mangos, lemons, mangosteen, and ‘mamon chino.’ Needless to say, I already miss the produce!
The community is very family oriented so multiple-generation families living under the same roof is a common practice. There are about 5 main families that make up the majority of the population.
Since the community is located in the rural countryside, there isn’t much infrastructure. There is an elementary school, two churches, police station, community grange hall, soccer field, recycling center and a multi-use basketball court (the last two which we built between 2010- 2012).
Is that a sloth I see in the background?!
Andrea’s main project in her community! She organized and planned the construction of this multi-use sports court!
4) What surprised you most when you first got to the village?
I was surprised that most people had cell phones and everyone asked me if I had “face” (aka Facebook).
5) What was a typical day like in the village?
-Wake up to the sounds of roosters crowing on my tin roof.
-6k run to the next town.
-Breakfast of oatmeal, fresh bananas, and coffee.
-Community work at the school, recycling center, construction site of basketball court, women’s artisan group, and/or community meetings. One of the best parts of being a PC volunteer is that every day is different.
-Lunch of rice, beans, and natural fruit juice.
-More community work.
-Cafecito with sweet bread and friends.
-Hang out at the soccer field located in the center of town for the afternoon scrimmage. It’s the place to see and be seen!
-Dinner of rice, beans, and eggs with neighbors while watching the evening news.
-Read and journal.
-Bed by 9pm…rest up to do it all over again!
Andrea with many of the kids from her community! She was very involved in the school which is where she started a recycling program that the kids now manage!
6) What was the best experience you had during your service?
The best experience I had during my service was being adopted by my neighbors into their family. They are an amazing group of people who accepted me as one of their own. With joy and love, they taught me about their culture, food, traditions, and worldview. I learned so much from them and feel eternally grateful for their generosity. Saying goodbye to them when I finished my service was one of the toughest things I have ever had to do.
Enjoying lunch by the river with Costa Rican “family!”
7) Obviously you are now part Tica ;) (the name used for native Costa Rican people). What about the Costa Rican culture did you love? What are some of the elements of their culture that you have adopted?
One of my favorite parts of Costa Rican culture is their use of language and nicknames. Most people have at least one nickname related to something that defines them and people use it to refer to the person instead of their given name. They called me Dora (as in Dora La Exploradora because I was always on adventures with my backpack…haha).
I am a big coffee drinker, so Costa Rica was a wonderful place for me to live. Not only is there internationally renowned coffee grown in the country, but Costa Ricans always have a pot of coffee brewing and schedule times each day to sit down and enjoy coffee with their friends and loved ones during ‘cafecitos.’ This is a tradition that I will definitely be keeping.
8) Now that you are transitioning back to the U.S., what are you most looking forward to in the coming months?
I am blessed with amazing family and friends, so the best part of being home is spending time with them. I love the beach, so a trip to the Oregon Coast is on the calendar!
The hot showers are also a nice treat :)
9) If I handed you a plane ticket that could take you anywhere in the world, where would you go?
On my next adventure, I would love to go to Africa. Countries such as Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cameroon, and Madagascar top the list.
10) Favorite meal?
Rice, black beans, fresh vegetables, grilled chicken, and corn tortilla with a cold mojito in hand! Yummm…Sis we need to make this pronto!
11) What is your idea of happiness?
Doing exactly what you love while achieving balance, stability, and enriching the lives of others.
Andrea I can’t tell you how proud I am of everything you accomplished during your Peace Corps Service. I feel so lucky to have you as my older sister because you continually inspire me to be the best person I can be and you are always a reminder that each one of us can make a difference!
That’s all for now!
I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful Fourth of July!