Saturday, August 30, 2008

Satellite Images

It's a slow Friday at work, so I downloaded some images from Google Earth of Tonga. The first shows the location if you're geographically challenged like most people are on islands in the South Pacific. The next is a view of one of the islands in the Ha'apai group, and the last is of Vava'u. It sounds like group 74 to Tonga (our group) will be on a lot of the more remote outer islands so we could be in one of these two island groups.

Only 2 more days left of work for me now, and Brett's actually working from home for 2 days next week. He can't get into St. Paul because he's not on "the list" of people allowed in for work, they're having the Republican party convention in St. Paul next week and security's gonna be really tight.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Official Peace Corps invite

We're going to Tonga in the south pacific!!!

After work on Monday there was a fedex slip to pick up our invite at 7:30, but the fedex location they listed closed at 7:30. So we got take-out vietnamese food and ate it in the parking lot at fedex waiting for the truck to get in with our envelope. It was a huge relief after a year-long application process, finally knowing where and when we're going.

We leave on Oct. 7th for 2 days of staging (probably in LA), then leave Oct. 9th and are in training until Dec. 17th in Tonga! Brett will be a community educator, teaching in a school and I will be a business advisor/educator either working with the government, a non-profit, or a school.

We're so excited! We both gave notice at work on Tues, we'll be done at the beginning of Sept.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

We're Invited!!!

It's been a long week and weekend!

Camping was a lot of fun, we were able to see Brett's family and spend time hanging out at the campground, biking and boating at Itasca.

Then on Tues. morning we called our placement officer to find out what's going on. She told Brett the program we were nominated for is full, and she'd look for a new program for us but the earliest would be Jan. 09!! I was shocked, we'd been planning on leaving in Oct. since the beginning of the year, and waiting to hear!

On Wed. I called again to let her know we wanted to leave sooner rather than later, and she still said our program was full but she couldn't rule out Oct. yet and she'd look at our file in the next couple of days.

And yesterday I got a message on my phone saying we were very lucky and she was able to get us into the south pacific islands leaving in Oct!!!! And we should have the invite in a few days! I'm really excited, it all worked out for us! But not without days of agonizing waiting and thinking we could end up anywhere in the world, I'm really excited it's still the south pacific. We'll find out the country and job assignments when we get the invite in the mail.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

To Tonga or Not to Tonga...

That is the question. We just heard from a current volunteer's blog that because of budget reasons, they're cutting the number of volunteers being sent to Tonga from 35 to 24, that's a huge cut!!! And that's the place we thought we'd most likely end up. There will be 10 business volunteers and 14 education. We still have a chance, but it's much more competitive.

Brett called our assistant PO, and finally found out who our actual placement officer is, so maybe that means they're reviewing our files now, I hope. She's out of the office though until Tues. It's going to be a looooong weekend until we can figure out what's going on, and we're camping with Brett's parents at Itasca until Tues. so this will ruin the vacation mode for me, I'll just be thinking about what's going on with our invite!

On top of this, today was a sad morning - I ran out of my Cafe Dumond coffee that I got from Holly in New Orleans, so now it's just the coffee from work for me which is more bland.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Around the world

After we're done with peace corps, me and Brett are planning on traveling for about half a year. So we're saving as much as we can now to do this.

Tentatively, here's where we'd want to go, leaving from the south pacific assuming we get an invite there.

- New Zealand, both islands (either during service or after)
- Australia - sydney, melbourne, brisbane/sunshine coast, cairns/barrier reef
- Kuala Lumpar/Singapore
- Thailand - beaches, bangkok
- Cambodia - angkor wat
- Laos - river areas
- Vietnam - halong bay, saigon
- (maybe Nepal himilaya mountains, depending on time/money)
- Turkey - Istanbul
- (maybe Israel, Egypt depending on political situation, money/time)
- Greece - islands, athens
- Eastern Europe - bulgaria, croatia, hungary, czech republic
- Fly home from Amsterdam

We'll try to stick to the cheaper areas for longer - southeast Asia, and eastern Europe. And we'll do it all with one medium-sized backpack each, with about a weeks worth of clothes, traveling light.

We found out the Tonga departure date is Oct 7th, so we're about 9 weeks out from that, getting close to within the 6 weeks they have to give you notice. I think there might still be departures for Samoa in Oct. but no one I've seen has gotten invites yet.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Boundary Waters

Last weekend we only worked Monday and Tues., then went up north with my parents to the boundary waters. I didn't realize how far north it is, we stayed with my grandparents in Esko for one night, then it's another 3 hours or so past that, up by the Canadian border.

The Boundary Waters is a reserve/park area, no motorized boats or anything, and you canoe in with all your packs and stuff. I thought I'd be more sore from paddling but I guess I must have some arm muscle. We found a great camping site after passing a lot that were full already. Ours had a private sandy beach, and there weren't many bugs at all which is very unusual for the boundary waters. The lake we were on was huge, with lots of little islands and rocks. Some of the area was burned up from last year's fire, but a lot was still green and covered with fores. It was relaxing, we hung out, hiked around and paddled around the lake, floated out on our beach on our air mattress, and my dad and Brett caught a few fish. It was a very Minnesot-an weekend.

We called the placement office again, and heard it will be another 2 - 3 weeks (from 7/28).