Thursday, June 30, 2005

Back From Cali!

So, I arrived home this morning about 1:30 am from the road trip. I didn't say where we were headed earlier because it was a surprise to the girls. I took 2 girls that just graduated from Highschool down to San Francisco for a few days, and then we continued down the California coast down Highway 1. We were gone for a week. It was fun. We saw Alcatraz in San Fran, and met a former inmate who had written a book about his experience. We stayed on Lombard Street (we camped the rest of the trip), and overall had a blast. I have driven down Highway 1 before when I was in college, but we did not take as much time and see as many things.

Down the coast we did all the tourist stuff: took a ton of pictures, went on 17 mile drive (where all the rich people live) and saw Pebble beach, camped at some of the most beautiful campsites I have ever been to, went to Santa Cruz down the boardwalk. The girls went on the rollercoaster there, the oldest working one on the west coast. I did not mention that part until after they were off. I did not go on it, because as some of you know I do not like rollercoasters, just the kid ones that go in circles. We spent the day at Monterey and went to the Aquarium. And my favorite part of the trip was getting to see the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. It was unbelievable. All of the pictures that look like a mansion are from that place.

We left San Louis Obisbo yesterday morning at 8am. I drove the whole way. Over 1000 miles in 18 hours. It was long, but I think we were all ready to head home. We were tired of camping and smelling like smoke. :)

While I was away, I received a cd from Samoa about the country and what my experiences will be like. The topics included: a history of the Peace Corps in Independent Samoa, information about Samoa including government facts and basic stuff I had already read about, what my living conditions would be like. It mentioned email access. Every town has a few internet cafes (which I still can't believe) so I will have email access, but usage on that is limited.

My main food will probably include rice, bread, papaya, banana, breadfruit (I don't know what that is yet), and fish. I will either be living with a Samoan family or with another volunteer, and we will most likely have running water and possibly limited electricity. My main mode of transportation will be a bicycle, which I am looking forward to because I have read there are some great places to bike around the islands and I have really been getting into trail riding lately.

When I first arrive in Samoa, for 2 months I will be in country training and not actually in my job yet. The things I will be working on and learning are technical training, language training, health and safety training, cross cultural or diversity training (learning how to adapt). I can still be fazed out of the Peace Corps, or not be accepted to serve my job if I do not pick the language up (but I think I will because I pick languages up easily and love learning new ones), or if I am not quite up to the technical skills needed.

Health wise, I know some of you worry about me. First, there is NO malaria in Samoa. My biggest concerns are infections. Samoa is out of the main path of yearly typhoons as well. There is a cycle to the paths and about every 11 years Samoa is hit. The last typhoon to hit Samoa was 2001. I think I will be okay. So, actually I am pretty lucking on the health part of it. There are also 2 hospitals on each island.

Okay, I think that's enough information for now. If any of you want more information or have any questions feel free to email me or comment, cause I do read them. :) Until next time...

Pictures of the Road Trip

The Golden Gate Bridge

A Cable Car in San Francisco

Alcatraz Island or The Rock

Me inside one of the cells

Stephanie and I on Hwy 1

The board walk at Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz

Jellies at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

The View on 17 Mile Drive

Kaela and Stephanie in front of a mansion on 17 mile drive

The famous Lone Cyprus on 17 mile drive

Pebble Beach Resort...our hotel, yeah right

This is a typical view on Highway 1

Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park on Hwy 1

One of the guest houses at the Hearst Castle

The Roman pool at the Hearst Castle. One of 2 pools.

Zebras! Read comments for details.

Elephant seals. They were laying on the beaches.

The sunset from our last campsite.

Finishing up the trip with a bite at Inn and Out Burger

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

New Blog

I liked the idea of a blog to keep everyone updated instead of mass email. For those of you who don't know, here's a quick update on my Peace Corps status right now. I am leaving for Samoa, previously called Western Samoa (NOT American Samoa), beginning of October. (Right before my birthday!) But the dates may still change. I will be teaching computers to children ages 9-13. And teaching adults more advanced computer technology and web development. I still have a lot of paperwork to take care of. I think they try and get people to quit the PC just based on all the paperwork you have to do. I still have visa stuff and some legal documents to fill out, just in case I die overseas. But mom is so good at all of that stuff, I think I will employ her help on that.

In the meantime I am still working on the island. This summer I have a few fun things planned. In a week I leave for a road trip with some friends that just graduated from Highschool. Later in the fall, after I am done at work, my father and I are taking the ferry to Alaska and then driving down. And still after that I am flying to DC to visit a good friend. AND, I am the maid of honor in my best friends wedding this August. So I have a great summer planned. Time will just fly by. Next thing you know I will be leaving.

I will continue to keep people updated through this blog all through my service in Samoa. And I plan on adding pictures once I get there. (Maybe even a few of the road trips if anyone is intersted). Feel free to post comments, or pass this address on to anyone else you think might be interested. This is a picture I took in front of our property on the island.