Thursday, February 04, 2010

Greetings from the Equator: A Guest Post

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:



Rachel said...

GREAT post! I really enjoyed it since I don't know much about the Peace Corps! Also, I got the fertility book yesterday that you recommended. Loving it already-- thanks again!

Lo said...

Thanks for posting, love!

Lindsey said...

Great post! Gosh I want to be at the beach now!

Lucky in Love said...

What an amazing look into someone else's life!! So different!

emily said...

So neat, thanks for sharing!

Jennifer said...

I love this!

Sweet Simplicity said...

I loved reading this! Very interesting.

* said...

Sooo great reading this! Loved it! Thanks for the post!

Sarah said...

Hi Laurel,

Thank you so much for serving in the Peace Corps. i work with an RPCV and she brought me to the Carter Center last summer for the Lillian Carter award ceremony (they award and RPCV who started serving at they turned 50 or 55, I can't remember the age). It was amazing to listen to Pres. Carter talk about his grandmother's experiences and then to hear his grandson, Jason, talk about his time in South Africa. Awesome and inspiring!!

Thanks for sharing.

Brown Girl said...

This was so cool, thank you for sharing!

Random Musings Of My Life said...

How cool! The hubby and I looked into doing this too.. However because I am Canadian they would not allow me to... So strange

Crazy Shenanigans said...

Great guest post!!!!

Krystie said...

I've been reading your blog for some time and am finally on the comment band wagon! Love this post! I tagged you over on my blog with a sunshine award. enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Good day!

It is my first time here. I just wanted to say hi!

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