In September of 1999, I left for my Peace Corps assignment as an agriculture volunteer in Nicaragua. I was 21 years old, fresh out of college, could barely speak Spanish, and didn't really know squat about agriculture, but I was chock full of idealism and ready for adventure. The next 27 months were full of ups and downs- one day you're watching baby sea turtles hatch at the most beautiful beach you've ever seen, and the next day you've been pickpocketed on the bus and you've got giardia. But despite all of the frustrating parts, Peace Corps was by far the most rewarding thing I've done in the past ten years. I learned another language, lived in another country, and did hundreds of things I never imagined possible. I owned a horse. I swam in waterfalls and hiked in woods populated by howler monkeys. I lived with a Nicaraguan family for two years in a small house with a dirt floor. I played soccer on a team that traveled around the country in an old cattle truck. I vaccinated chickens and hitchhiked on the Pan-American highway. Most importantly, I met wonderful people and made amazing friends.
To celebrate out ten year anniversary, several of my fellow agriculture volunteers are gathering at a very appropriate place, the Hasselmann Family Farm in Illinois, which belongs to my friend Scott (the guy in the well in the photo). I leave tomorrow and I can't wait!
Have a great Labor Day weekend, and here's a song for your download enjoyment:
Quiero Ser Poeta by Jarabe De Palo. It's a great song from one of my favorite bands.
Lastly, here's a long-distance dedication video that goes out to the members of Nica 20 AG who are unable to attend this weekend. For everyone else, if you don't know what a ranchera is, well, you're about to find out.