The following post is by my best friend, maid-of-honor, lifelong-confidant, and de-facto sister Laurel.
We have a lot in common: we grew up in same neighborhood, we went to the same schools, we share same similar interests, and we're both Newlyweds. But we currently could not be leading more different lives.
Me = Corporate raider at Large Consulting Firm traveling the west coast with my business casual attire and laptop bag.
Laurel = Peace Corps Volunteer serving the country of Ecuador.
I thought you’d enjoy a peak into her amazing and different life…
Greetings from the equator! I’m Laurel, a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Ecuador. My husband, Daniel, and I have been living here for almost a year and have been graciously asked to share some of our experiences living abroad with the ample community of bloggers who follow the Newlyweds Next Door.
Daniel and I had both considered joining the Peace Corps before we’d met, so it was an easy decision to make once we got married to join together. After a few months of planning, packing, and saying our goodbyes, we left California in February 2009 for a 26 month stint away from US soil.
As Peace Corps assignments go, we are very fortunate. Ecuador is a beautiful and geographically diverse country that boasts long white beaches, is traversed by the incredibly high Andes, shares a slice of the Amazon rainforest, and holds claim to the unparalleled Galápagos Islands.
We live in Tena, a small but tourist-friendly town in the rainforest known for cacao, jungle tours and white-water rafting. Our work supports a group of international development organizations and Ecuadorian governmental organizations interested in environmental and economic sustainability.
Needless to say there are many things I miss from home. On the top of that list have to be:
1. Variety. Cheeses, beers, wines, restaurants. We were so spoiled in the US and didn’t even know it!
2. Mobility. Four hour bus rides? No problem. But 10? Not so much. Daniel dreams about driving.
3. Climate control. Perma-sweat develops when you live in a rainforest without A/C; just a fact of life.
4. Jon Stewart. ::sigh::
5. Our friends and family. Thank goodness for blogs and email!
After almost year away from home, I’ve learned a great deal. Some of the most salient are:
1. Not all Peace Corps Volunteers fit the ‘hippie’ stereotype. I’ve met former architects, nurses, business people and congressional aides. Sure there are a few tokens among us, but most PCVs are just young people seeking altruism and adventure.
2. Time isn’t money in developing countries. Coming from a corporate work experience prior to Peace Corps, it has been difficult to adjust to a society where things unfold at a much much slower pace.
3. No book is too boring or difficult to read when you have plenty of time on your hands. Seriously, you have no idea what you can get through without the distraction of evening television.
4. Monkeys are cool until the steal your things. And bite you when you try to take them back.
5. I married the right guy. Extreme conditions, living and working together 24/7/365, isolation, language barriers – and our marriage is stronger than ever.
(our neighbor, the monkey)
There are just under 15 months left in our service. Some days fly by and others drag on and on, but every day I learn more about the gracious Ecuadorian people, their rich culture, and myself. If you are interested in learning more about our experiences in Ecuador, check out our blog: http://danielandlaurel.blogspot.com
14 hours ago