¡Hasta Luego, México!

See ya later, Mexico! 

 

And Hello Seattle!

 

November 1st marked our last day as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and it also marks the day we assume a new title of Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. Once you’re a Peace Corps Volunteer, you’re always a Peace Corps Volunteer. The story sticks with you, the memories will change you forever.

 

We committed twenty-seven months to living abroad. We dedicated twenty-seven months to all things Mexico. We devoted twenty-seven months to lovings others outrageously.

 

Mil gracias to all of the people that participated in this part of our journey, to all those that visited us in Mexico, to those that sent us letters and packages, to those new friends that journeyed with us, and to those that welcomed us warmly back into their lives as we adjust to life in the USA once again. We truly could not have gone through the last few years without all your support and love.

 

Now we begin a journey anew, one of rediscovery and settling in to our old skin as new people. We have changed significantly over the last few years – we still resemble our old selves and yet not at all. This is where reverse culture shock begins to set in, so please give us mercy and grace as we repatriate to US culture once again.

 

Ways you can support us during the repatriation process:

  1. Be extra communicative. If you want to see us or spend time with us, please let us know! If you expect something of us, please communicate that to us. If we’re breaking some serious US cultural norms, please tell us!
  2. Be sensitive when asking about what’s next. Coming back to the United States after being away for so long is a process in of itself. We are planning on becoming employed and settling in at some point. Right now we are considering repatriation our job as we get through the holidays.
  3. Send prayers and good vibes. It’s a long, hard process to come back and start all over again. Please pray for us and send us good vibes as we begin a new life and new adventure.
  4. Clue us in on pop culture references. Because really, being away for over two years really does a doozy on your ability to understand pop culture. Lists of good music, TV shows, or movies to watch is infinitely helpful.
  5. Invite us into your home. One of the big life lessons we learned in Mexico was the importance of seeing people in their homes. We want to visit you in your home, or at your work, or at your place of worship. We want to be intentional about this blank time that we have, and fill it up with relationship-building time.

 

Paz,

Chelsea Beth

Estoy Aquí

In our neighborhood, we have plenty of street dogs who are hungry and without a home. It makes me so sad to see these pups discarded to the street after they’ve past the cute puppy phase. After seeing this, we’re trying to treat the street dogs in our neighborhood with more love. How could you not be moved to action after this adorable film?! What is something (or someone) unseen in your world? Will you choose to see it? Give it a try and let us know how that changes you.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” — Rev. John Watson

Con amor,

CB

Lessons Learned: April Edition

As most of you know, we were able to take some vacation time to Costa Rica this past month. Neal lived there as part of his study abroad experience back in 2006, and he has been raving about it ever since we met. It has been a dream of ours to go back together and I have to say… We had the best time! Since we were in Mexico for a short about of time this month, this month’s lessons learned will be abbreviated as well. Forgive us!

 

  1. Always be ready to meet the double check glance with a smile. People will make regular eye contact in passing, then upon realizing how different you are they will take a second glance at you. If you can be ready with a smile, it can make all the difference in their perception and acceptance of you. Of course, there are people who just skip the second glance and stare at you from the moment you step into their gaze.
  2. Calling within Mexico is strangely difficult. It could simply still be confusing because no one has explained this to us in English yet. However, I believe it’s genuinely difficult. When we first arrived to Mexico, there was a whole sheet of page in our welcome documents about how to call around Querétaro. Unfortunately, that document is now obsolete since we live in a different state. So now we just try about a bazillion combinations until we get a dial tone.
  3. Give yourself plenty of time when flying out of Mexico City. For us, we have to take a three hour bus ride into Mexico City and then need to connect to the airport. The traffic is unpredictable and the metro, which is below ground, is typically the fastest means of transportation. Next time, we will definitely give ourselves about another hour for our sanity.
  4. If there is a secure taxi service available, use it. Let’s just say that we learned the hard way since we did not give ourselves enough time flying out of Mexico City (see lesson #3) so we could not wait in the line to get a proper taxi. We negotiated a price before getting in the taxi and then he raised it $50 MXN once we told him we were flying internationally. Ugh! Let’s just say we were happy to get to the airport that day.
  5. Don’t worry too much when you turn on the faucet and nothing comes out. This just means that you

    An example of the typical tank system in Mexico

    have run out of water and your landlord has probably set up a pump from the well to fix the issue. For us in fact, all we had to do was flip a switch and wait 10 minutes. Just like magic, you have water once again. For some other volunteers in Mexico, I know it’s not that easy. We have only run out of water a few times, but thankfully there is always more water for us in the reserve tank.

  6. Not all tortillas are created equal; finding the right tortilleria is absolutely worth the extra effort. Sure we may have become tortilla snobs, but how can you avoid such a plague when there are 10 tortillerias in your neighborhood stating that they have the best and most fresh tortillas? You try them all and decide which one really is the best. In fact, we actually prefer the tortillas in a neighboring town. Don’t worry, we have yet to make a trip there just for the tortillas!

 

Hope you enjoyed this edition. We will post pictures of Costa Rica at some point (Note: I did not promise soon, but I will do my best.) And if you are interested in coming to visit, please let us know! I am pretty sure I plug the whole “Come and visit us” thing every time but I hope you know that I mean it whole heartedly! Even if we haven’t spoken in awhile, it would be great to have you here even for the weekend.

 

Mucho amor,

ChelseaBeth

Conoce a Prosthetics for Prosperity

 

Meet Sam, fellow PCV at INAOE

I’d like to introduce you to our friend and fellow PCV, Sam Bhattacharyya, who is currently volunteering with INAOE (Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electronica). Sam works on several projects, from promoting science education and economic development in local communities to providing technical expertise for a new non-profit organization, Prosthetics for Prosperity.

 

Don-berna

Meet Don Bernardo, the project founder

The idea for Prosthetics for Prosperity came from a local entrepreneur and leg amputee, Don Bernardo, has already made 3 prosthetic legs using basic hardware tools and locally available materials. He hopes that he can not only build more devices for the community, but also train people with disabilities to build their own devices. Add Alejandro, a local biomedical engineer and Sam, who has several years of experience working with robotic hands into the mix and you have Don Bernardo’s dream turned into reality.

 

Well, not quite yet; they need your help.

 

In order to start full-production, the trio needs to raise $4,000 USD in donations to set up a community workshop/laboratory to manufacture low-cost and custom made prosthetic devices from scrap metal and reusable carbon-fiber. The aim of the project is not only to help provide access to prosthetic devices in the local community, but also to train beneficiaries in income generating skills and to provide a support network for people with disabilities in the area. By working with the community to regain their livelihoods and economic independence, the team hopes to help the community both figuratively and literally get back on their feet.

 

An example of a prosthetic made by Prosthetics for Prosperity

 

Besides monetary donation, you can help by liking them on Facebook or follow them on Google+. Share the news with your friends, family, and anyone else who might be interested in spreading the news. To find out more, visit the Prosthetics for Prosperity website.

 

Cheers,

Chelsea

La Adventura por un Clave

In the United States, CB had a cell phone with AT&T that of course came with an AT&T SIM card.  When we moved to Mexico, we thought that we could just purchase a new SIM card from another cell phone provider and then proceed to use the phone like normal.  This as with many things in Mexico turned out to be a little more complicated than we thought.  We talked with so many people, watched so many YouTube videos, and almost spent actual dollars to buy the code. After some research, we realized it was not only free, but seriously easy to do! With a little help from my Dad back in the States, we were able to make this happen. In case you are curious, here are the steps we took to make the phone work for us…

  • You need your phone’s unique IME imei number of mobile phoneor IMEI# which you can find on the back of your phone under the battery it’s a 15 digit # to locate the code
  • You also need the make and model of the phone
  • Call the customer service line for your old service provider and tell them that you would like to unlock your phone.  There are some restrictions with this so you should check your phone contract to make sure that you qualify to make this happen.
  • Once you give customer service the information, then they should give you an unlock code
  • Put another non- AT&T SIM Card in your phone and turn it on
  • It will ask you if you want to unlock it, say yes
  • You will need to enter the unlock code twice in order to get it fully unlocked
  • Here is a video we watched for more info.
  • Once the phone is unlocked, head to a cell store and purchase a new SIM card.

Hopefully this saves you or someone you know from the trouble that we encounter to unlock our phone!

 

Current bug bites: 4

Days till Navidad: 13

High temp for today: 70 degrees F

 

Cheers,

Neal

¡Actualizado el Blog!

Welcome, welcome to our updated blog!  We are super excited to unveil a new look for our blog right before we jump in as official Peace Corps Volunteers. I thought after about 2 years, it was high time to update the pages. I’ve updated the theme and given us a different background for a bit of a change. Please, give your thoughts and feedback below! We are always happy to receive constructive criticism.

 

 

Current mosquito bites: 2

Days left in Training: 3!

 

Love from Querétaro,

Chels