Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sweet Home Alabama

So, I have been home for 3 days now and I have to say that I am hot, and officially bored. I probably shouldn't complain about the heat considering what I am about to encounter in Africa though.

The 1/2 Marathon went wonderfully, and I am posting a picture of me crossing the finish line! WOO HOO! My eyes were closed, but what can I say...I was pretty tired at this point.

We drove to Alabama the next day and that was a tough feat as well. We drove straight through in one day...which is about 1000 miles. I was seeing colors by the time 10:30 rolled around. Thankfully, we got home safely and without I really can't complain.

I am preparing to leave on a 5-day cruise with my Mom to Mexico, and then I will be back to pack my stuff, and to prepare for the outdoor triathalon that my brother and I are doing together ( like to punish my body, hahaha!

The countdown continues!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Just Keep Running...

Today is the day...the day that I must say goodbye to New York City and move home to Alabama. What better way to say goodbye to my beloved city than to participate in the first ever New York City Half Marathon!

I have to say that I was a bit nervous going into this event. As some of you know, I ran the NYC Marathon last year and I had a blast. I was supposed to be running the Chicago Marathon, but I will already be in Burkina Faso, so this would have to do. The race laps around Central Park and then we run down 7th Avenue, through Times Square, and then down the West Side Highway to Battery Park/WTC. Even though I haven't been running for the past several weeks due to sickness, vacation, etc. I was surprised to run as well as I did. I finished it, and in a fairly decent time...which is good enough for me. Plus, it allowed me to say the grandest of goodbyes (even if it was pouring down rain).

Nothing's better than getting up at 5 a.m. and running with crazy people in the rain...sometimes I wonder what I'm thinking.

Anyway, less than a month to go before I leave for Burkina...and I wake up tomorrow at 5 am, hop in the car, and head to Bama. SO SAD...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I have been asked an array of quesions lately, so I felt that it might help if I answered the most common ones in this posting (For those of you who don't know where Burkina is, sbove is a map).

Alright, here we go:

(1) What will you be doing there? - According to my assignment booklet I will be in the Small Enterprise Development Program and my title is "Small Business Advisor." Sounds official enough huh? They say my main duties will be:
(a) working with entrepeneurs and cooperatives to provide business training.
(b) help create market linkages (anyone wanna buy Shea Butter? It's their biggest export and it's great for the skin!!).
(c) Asssting the organization of Savings and Credit Clubs, Advise on and Facilitate product development, packaging, and promotion.
(d) Assist entrepeneurs to develop business plans, maintain financial records, conduct financial analyses, and make informed business management decisions.
(e) Work with other institutions to promote export of products

It seems complicated, but consider this. Most people there don't understand what a "profit" is. They may buy something for $50, and sell it for $25 and still not understand that they are operating at a loss. So, that is what my "vast" expertise is there to teach them.

(2) How long will you be there?
- I am supposed to be there 27 months (3 months of training in the country, and then 2 years of service on site). But, they don't force you to stay, if you want to leave you can.

(3) Where will you live? - Although the Peace Corps keeps us mainly in the dark about this one, chances are that I will live in a rural area, in a mud hut or some other form of a house. Thanks to the Peace Corps though I get a cement floor, windows with screens on them, and a door! Compared to those living there I will be living in the lap of luxury! The Peace Corps quotes, "Animals might wander around your house and bats, mice, and cockroaches could likely live in your house. You will have no running water or electricity." -- aside from the running water and electricity how is living in NYC any different??? Well, maybe it's not that bad...

(4) Will you live with other volunteers?
- This is definitely a question that has my mom worried. But, NO, I won't live with other volunteers in my village (chances are anyway). I will however in all likelihood live biking distance from someone. The Peace Corps issues us mountain bikes and that is how we are expected to get around.

(5) What is the weather/living conditions there?
- Burkina is a Sahelian country with some forsests in the South, woodlands in the center, and desert in the North. The tropical climates has rainy (June-September) and dry (October-May) seasons . Temperatures range from 50 degrees F in the early dry season to 104 degrees just before the rainy season. Pretty much it's just DAMN HOT all the time... :-D Chances are I WILL NOT have electricity or constant access to internet...but I will have a cell phone that will work in the main areas.

(6) What language will you speak?
- I will be learning at least 2 languages during training. The first is French, and the second will be a tribal language...most likely something called Fufulde or Moore'. Fun times!

(7) What will you eat?
- The locals mostly eat maize or millet flour paste (yeah...I have no idea what that is), or locally produced rice with leaf sauces, local veggies (okra, eggplant, tomatoes, and meat (lamb, goat, or beef). Generally it is heavy on the carbs, light on the protein...YUMMY...

(8) Are you scared? Excited?
- YES! I am scared as hell about this entire thing. But, I figure some of the most worthwhile things in life are all you can do is just jump right in. I may love or I may hate it...but I have to go to find out. I am a little worried about getting sick...not deathly ill or anything like that because the Peace Corps takes good care of us...more worried about little intestinal parasites taking up residence inside of me and making me eject my food from all places (sorry...I tried to make that as PC and clean as possible).'s to hoping I have a strong stomach. I will be on so many medications for malaria and every other disease that I am not too worried about that.

Anyway...I am a bit tired so I will stop here. The movers are coming in a moment to move stuff out of my apartment. If you have any more questions leave them in the comments section or email me and I will post them up here...

THANKS to anyone who is reading this, and I hope to see some people at my going away party this evening!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Rockin' Road Trip of 2006...

Well, my ROCKIN' ROAD TRIP OF 2006 has just come to an end. I am back in New York City ready to face the week, and the impending move. Mike--my boyfriend--and I decided to take a week long road trip from Alabama up to New York City. That way I could have an SUV to haul all my junk back to Bama before I ship off. I have to say that it was one of the most fun trips that I have had. There are so many things to see and do that it's hard to even decide what to plan.

We ended up driving to Charleston, SC first. We spend 3 days there lounging on the beach, going to the waterparks, taking carriage rides, and hanging with my friends from college. Anyone who hasn't made it to Charleston should do so right is quite possibly the best city in the opinion only of course. We then headed to Asheville where we got a cabin. We went to this place called Sliding Rock, which is a natural waterslide and toured the Biltmore Estate (went mountain biking, did a wine tasting) as well. We headed off to Richmond to see Mike's brother, and then our last stop was Baltimore to visit my newly married friends and hit up an Orioles game. All in all, I didn't kill Mike and he didn't kill I figure it was a successful last hurrah before we part ways for a while. I think I am in a bit of denial about my leaving...and it hasn't quite hit me what is going on.

Anyway, I sit here in my room with boxes everywhere, an inflatable mattress (I sold mine off today), and other junk and can't help but think about what lies ahead. Is this a huge mistake? Is this the best thing that I am ever going to do? Who this point--which I figure is a good thing--I am leaning more towards this being the best thing that I ever do. I feel that there is more out there...I am drawn to head off on this adventure because I am not quite ready to "settle down." Maybe it's impatience...who knows. I do know that either way I am going to learn so much from this experience!

Thanks to all those for their b'day wishes..and thanks SO MUCH for all the journals (I believe I have gotten 7 so far). I will definitely not be short on things to write in! Off to bed for me..."time keeps on tickin', tickin', tickin' into the future!"

Saturday, August 05, 2006

This is my "last"...

It seems that I am doing a lot of "lasts" lately. I figure it goes with the territory since my entire life is about to change. It is heartbreaking yet exciting at the same time, and I can never decide which one I mostly depends on the second that you ask me.

Today I ran my last marathon training practice, tomorrow I play my last flag football games with my "Olympic" crew, and I worked my last night slinging pasta at Pasta Presto. Every time I walk outside my apartment, down the street, stop off at my corner Starbucks, it dawns on me that this is the last time that I am going to be doing least for a while. It is so funny...what seemed so common place takes on a whole new meaning for me, and I appreciate it just a bit more. It's a nice feeling actually, and forces me to realize that New York City became my home a lot more than I wanted to admit...

I definitely have to thank all of those who have supported me, given me advice, and MOST OF ALL listened to me talk and debate this whole Peace Corps experience...your ears and advice have been priceless for me.

Anyway...I'm just bored and thought I would throw a posting up on here. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Still going...

Hello all--

I am recovering from a pretty nasty bout of the stomach flu. I guess God was testing me to see how I would handle being sick. It is a lot easier with a flush toilet and air-conditioning--luxuries I am sure I won't have when I am sick in Africa--but I am still on the mend.

Things are moving along. I am hoping to have a going away party/b'day party/fundraiser the week of August 21st.

As some of you know, I was supposed to run the Chicago Marathon with Team in Training this year. However, with my Sept. 25th leave date that is impossible. So, I am going to be running the NYC 1/2 Marathon instead. I am raising money for a WONDERFUL cause...the fight against Leukemia, lymphoma, and all other blood-borne cancers. Join me in making a contricution to this wonderful society! $1 or $ doesn't can donate's that easy! Go to:

Thanks so much and keep tuning in for more updates!