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Primero Dios, Segundo Atole Blanco

Hi everyone! Remember me? Bailey? PCV in Guatemala? The girl who swore up and down she’d keep up with this blog thing? Yeah, I don’t remember her either… I’m so sorry y’all. But I’m here to update you on the past 6 months of my life here in my beautiful Guatemala. Please forgive me 🙂

Wow, I have almost been in Guatemala for 10 months. Can you believe it? I certainly cannot…

As of yesterday, July 4th, I have officially been in my adorable community in Quiché for 7 months. I have been so sick, so busy, so thrilled, so loved and so so so so amazed by the precious people I have the privilege of living with and working with every single day. I can honestly say that I do not remember the last time that I have felt so much love. People who didn’t know anything about me have dropped everything they are doing to hug me when I had a rough day, made me smile when I wanted to cry, sat me down and forced me to eat when they saw that I was losing too much weight, made me remedy after remedy for my never ending stomach and sinus issues… Ya’ll have no idea how humbled I am. I never imagined I would be worthy of receiving such love.

This past month I took my first trip home to see my family and to meet my precious and perfect baby nephew! He was born on June 10th, and I came home on June 12th. He couldn’t wait 2 more days so he came 2 days early. He is the most perfect, most precious baby boy… My little sister is already the best little momma ever and I couldn’t be more proud of her. It was so nice to see my whole family after 9 months of being apart. I will say, it was one of the hardest things I’ve done though. Saying goodbye once was impossible. Saying goodbye twice was that times 3. But knowing that I have a precious loving family to come home to in Guatemala made coming back much much easier.

So most of you are probably wandering what is it that I actually do here in Guatemala? Well let me take this opportunity to explain a little bit. Currently, I am working in 2 middle schools in 2 different villages near my community. In both schools, I have a total of about 90 students (50 in one and 40 in the other) and work with each school 2 days per week, so 4 days per week I am in a school (if the classes aren’t cancelled). The schools are very small, but I am fortunate to be in schools with great students who are very eager to learn! In Guatemala there are 3 grade levels in middle school (so our equivalent is 6th, 7th, 8th grade), and I work with each grade level in both schools for 45 minutes each class in both schools. In the Youth in Development project, I work with the students on different life skills such as mental health, sex ed., leadership, drugs and alcohol abuse, good decision making etc. I also have the opportunity to work with their parents in similar themes. In addition to working with those 2 schools, I have the privilege of working with a non-profit organization, Paz Joven, that is a national organization for youth around Guatemala. Paz Joven and Peace Corps YiD project are very similar in their frameworks and so a lot of the projects we do with Paz Joven are identical to the ones I do with Peace Corps. My work with Paz Joven has been so wonderful! I have a great work-partner who has welcomed me into her home and into her organization and for that I am sooooo blessed ya’ll. We have done several radio shows through a local radio station where we have done a 1 hour program on numerous themes directed to the youth in our area. It was one of the most exciting most intimidating things I’ve done. But so much fun! As of last week, our group of Paz Joven was invited to take part in a weekly television program here in my site where they will allot us 1 hour to tackle a theme related to youth! How exciting is that???? Also how scary is that hahahaha. But mostly I’m super excited to increase the amount of youth viewers so that this information that Paz Joven can be provided to more families and more youth and hopefully serve as a resource to the community as well. Also, this year Paz Joven is focusing on Sexual Education and so we also put on a series of  3 courses at the 2 schools that I collaborate with. We are currently on the 2nd course and so far both courses have gone wonderfully and the students have learned so much! I also have been collaborating with my teacher friend Noe and her 1st grade class in teaching a once a week English class. Ya’ll… These kids are the most precious humans I have have ever met… They have stolen my heart and I have only had 4 classes with them. So far they have learned numbers, fruits and veggies! Next week we start with colors! Yay! Working with little kids is a constant struggle, but I absolutely ADORE every second with them. So that is what I have been doing here in my cute little community 🙂 It may not seem like much, but to me it’s everything and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters!

So currently, I am sitting in my bed with the worst gripe (cold) that I have had in 9 months. I have been in total loss of my voice for 3 days now along with a horrible sinus infection. So I figured, while I lock myself in my house with my puppy, Luna, I will finally sit down, stop talking, and just type.

I hope you enjoyed reading this little update on my life in Guatemala! A ver when I get to the next one…

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Intestinal Bacterial Infection: 1 Bailey: 0

Dear Blog Followers,

So for those of you who don’t know (because of my lack of blog posting) I am officially in my site where I will be for the next 2 years, in the beautiful department of El Quiché. I have been in site now for approximately 27 days and I have met some of the most incredible people in my life. I am blessed beyond measure to have been placed in a site where I feel loved and cared for by so many people that I have just met. Spending Christmas here was one of the most remarkable experiences I have ever had and I have to say it was probably the most memorable Christmas I have ever experienced. More pictures and blogs to come about that! (For those of you that haven’t seen my facebook posts…)

So I’m sure you’re wandering why I titled this post “Intestinal Bacterial Infection: 1 Bailey: 0.” Well you’re about to find out. So on December 28th, my friend Mary and I decided to go eat lunch at this restaurant close to my house after she got off work. I got just a plain ole grilled chicken breast and she got some type of chicken covered in some green sauce lol. It looked gross. But mine looked fine. And tasted fine too. (Disclaimer: my stomach is hurting just typing about that chicken). So after Mary left, I got ready for my basketball game and headed to my friend Any’s house. I started feeling strange when I got to Any’s house. My stomach was making all these bubbly noises but it didn’t hurt, it was just a weird feeling. So I just ignored it. It continued with the noises during my basketball game (I joined a basketball team here in my site lol), and afterwards during my dinner with our zumba group (also joined zumba haha). Then when I finally got home at 10:30pm, it got worse, I wanted to throw up but I couldn’t. So I went to bed. Then at 2:30am I was woken up by the sharp stabbing pains in my stomach.

***Disclaimer: this is about to get gross so if you have a weak stomach or are eating something I recommend you to stop lol. To my students reading this- this is for your own good to know when traveling to other countries…***

It was at 2:30am that I realized, either one of two or both of these things had happened. 1, I had been food poisoned from that stupid chicken I ate or 2, I had contracted a parasite from the stupid chicken I ate… After 2:30am, I was in the bathroom every half hour, 15 minutes, 20 minutes with the worlds worst diarrhea and nausea. I didn’t sleep at all that night. Not a wink. At 8:30am I decided that I felt like I was going to die. I had sharp stabbing pains, bloating, nausea, body aches, weakness, and a 100.4 fever, and probably a touch of dehydration. I called the PCMO (Peace Corps Medical Officer) and thankfully Nicole answered (the most precious human in Peace Corps Guatemala). She was like “honey what’s wrong? I’m so sorry you’re sick! What are your symptoms? What did you eat yesterday? Do you have a fever? Here’s what I’m recommending you to do: take a dramamine for your nausea and a Tylenol for your fever, and I’m going to prescribe an antibiotic for you as well because you have an intestinal bacterial infection from the chicken you ate.” Literally she is the best. So anyways, I was literally the walking dead all day yesterday. Sick to my stomach, dry heaves, diarrhea, fever, body aches, all of the above. But like I said before, I am so blessed to have met some amazing people here. I had several people check in on me, call me, my precious friend Any even made me soup and brought it to me because I physically couldn’t leave the house. I also didn’t eat anything for 19 hours. I physically couldn’t. But at 9:00pm last night, I finally got to eat some delicious soup 🙂 And thank god I didn’t wake up once last night to go to the bathroom. And my fever finally broke at some point during the night. So between multiple people checking in on me throughout the day, my own mom keeping up with me all the way from back home, and the PCMO Nicole, and my site mate Zara who brought me a bag full of soups and saltine crackers, I was very well taken care of 🙂

I survived my first (and hopefully my last but I doubt it…) intestinal bacterial infection here in the beautiful country of Guatemala. I still love this country, even more now because I never expected to have so many people care so much about me and my well being. But I thank God everyday that I have many people in my corner. Here’s to another day, and to a new year with no intestinal bacterial infections 🙂

Sincerely,

Bailey

Wow I’m Bad at Blogging…

Wow. So it’s been over a month since my last blog. So much has happened that there is not enough space in this blog to mention it all… So I’m just going to give a few fun highlights as to what has happened in the past 4 weeks 🙂

Week 2: We ended up having the privilege of taking part in a local event that happens during “feria” for the pueblos of Guatemala called “los toritos” which is where they create these crazy firework contraptions that look just like wooden bulls but FULL of fireworks. There is a person that wears it like a costume and runs around shooting fireworks at everyone in the street. Yes that’s legal lol. It was CRAZYYYYY. But literally the most fun thing I’ve done in a while hahaha. Pictures will be attached!!! It was the most scared yet most excited I’ve been in a long time.

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Week 3: This week was spent in our CBT community and consisted of language classes (with our MARAVILLOSA LCF who we love and adore dearly) , interviews with our CD (who is absolutely PRECIOUS by the way), our PTM (who is also SÚPER BUENA GENTE), zumba sessions (free), we also made oreo balls for the 5th time lol (yes we have a problem, no we do not care lol so don’t judge us), we also made some paper pumpkins to help us remember fall back home 🙂 And we had PIZZA AND CHEESY FRIES (BLESS BLESS BLESS).

Week 4: This week I got to try Guatemalan Ceviche (which was very delicious and very different from the Costa Rican Ceviche I know and love dearly….) My host mom also makes some KICK BUTT SOUPS. Also my host sister loves my hair and wanted to straighten it, so she did lol. It was beautiful! She’s such a precious soul. La quiero mucho Angeles!

Week 5: This week we had FBT (field based training) in a local pueblo. We had the best time getting to know how real life PCV life is 🙂 Our lovely PCV host was wonderful! We watched movies, made cookies, cooked amazing fajitas and pancakes, visited some of her socios (workpartners) and even got to teach a lesson at one of her schools! It was such a good learning experience. We also had dinner one of those nights during FBT with another RPCV from Guatemala 96-99!!!!!! She is just living her best life here in Guatemala with her amazing house and life and everything… She’s my spirit animal for sho.

Week 6: This week we visited a local Macadamia Farm and got to see the billion Macadamia trees that Guatemala has. We also got to sample some chocolate and had mini facials! It was a lovely day to say the least lol. Also this week was Halloween week and Día de los Santos day! So for Halloween me and another colleague dressed up as piñatas (we were super cute). Another CBT community dressed up as Scooby Doo characters and it was adorable as well. B12 is the best, that’s all there is to say lol. On November 2nd, Guatemala celebrated Día de los Santos and it was the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had in my life. The feeling of family and the beautiful traditions that take place is breathtaking in itself. We went back and forth to and from the cemetery about 8 different times to bring flowers, eat snacks, and just simply spend time with family alive and family that have passed on. There was music, kite flying, food (the best thing ever called “fiambre”), joy, pride, love, honor, passion, and so many other things and emotions. It brought me to tears to just see the amount of effort and love and passion that goes into this one simple day that so many of us US Americans have no experience with nor knowledge of. I wish I could have transported all of my prior students and friends and family to this day to experience it with me. They all would have loved it. One day, Primero Dios, they will get the opportunity to experience this incredible holiday in this beautiful country.

That pretty much brings me to today: NO MORE CAST!!!!! I’M CAST FREE!!!! WOOOOO!!!

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Today is day 55 in Guatemala (our first free day in Antigua) and I am loving every moment of it. I can’t believe I’ve already been here that long. I’ve experienced the first 6 weeks of Guatemala with an annoying cast on my arm because of a small little very painful frisbee accident… But I survived 🙂 My thumb is stiff and sore but it is functional lol. Poco a poco! We had site interviews Thursday and now we wait until November 22nd (Thanksgiving) to find out our sites! EEEEEKKKKK!!!! Anyways, I just want to take this last line or two to tell everyone back home that reads my blog thank you and I miss y’all dearly! I have been a busy mess this past month, but I want you all to know not a second goes by I don’t have y’all in the back of my mind and heart 🙂 I will do my best to update each week like I originally planned. Having two posable thumbs makes life so much easier… Y’all have no idea how grateful I am that thing is off my arm lol.

Con mucho amor,

Bailey

 

The Cat’s Out of the Bag🤷🏻‍♀️🤪🤦🏻‍♀️👍

So, I’ve tried to keep it as a secret from my parents for over a week now and I have failed. Totally lol. Remember in my previous post I made references about frisbees and how awful they are? Yeah….. that was about me. So, my third day in country, I was out walking with some of the other girls in our group and saw that there were others playing frisbee. Obviously I wanted to play. BAD IDEA NUMBER 1. We were just throwing it around to each other, chill chill. That got boring so we decided to play a little game of ultimate frisbee. BAD IDEA NUMBER 2. Well, we had literally just started playing, and I was wide open and so I was thrown the frisbee, or rather attempted to be thrown the frisbee, but instead collided with this tall long haired fellow and felt instantly that I must have literally broken my thumb. I couldn’t feel anything but the fact that I couldn’t move it and it grew more swollen by the second. Everyone was like ummmm is she hurt? 🤣 I just kept saying, “I think my thumb is broken, I think my thumb is broken!” And I went to the PC Medical Officer and was like “Fíjese que………creo que me quebré mi pulgar” And I was brought the back medical room where our PRECIOUS (BUT LITERALLY PRECIOUS) PCMO came and was like “oh honey what did you do? Let me put some ice on it. I’m going to get you some tea to take some ibuprofen. Can I bring you your lunch? Can I just give you a hug?” Y’ALL. I WAS SO TAKEN BACK BY THE AMOUNT OF LOVE AND KINDNESS AND CALMNESS SHE HAD. Of course I was just so angry with myself thinking like WHY did this have to happen NOW?!?!?! The first thing I asked (amidst my tears lol) was if this was going to be something that would send me home, and her response was “oh honey, HELL NO!” My heart y’all!!!!! Even though my thumb was dead, my heart was very much alive, and I was yet again reassured that this is the place where I was supposed to be. Anyways, after icing, the PCMO determined I needed to get X-rays to rule out a break, so I was told I had to go back to the capital to the ER…… lovely. Well, it actually wasn’t so bad turned out. The lovely gentleman who collided with me actually accompanied me to the ER, out of the kindness of his heart. And because he potentially broke my thumb… 🤪 Peace Corps organized everything. Organized my transportation, called the ER to let them know I was coming, and literally took care of everything. I was just so shocked by everything. So we made it to the ER, and they take me IN A WHEELCHAIR to get X-rays. I begged to walk lol. But it was protocol. To wheel back every patient. So I got my X-rays, was brought to a private room, and good ole gentleman thumb breaker was brought back to keep me company 🤣❤️ So when the doctor finally got there, he took one look at my X-rays and said “yep hun you have a bad fracture.” I was like COOL STORY BRO IT IS LITERALLY MY THIRD DAY HERE AND IVE FRACTURED MY THUMB. Another scary thing, as if I wasn’t stressed enough yet, he told me that the fracture was so bad that if the cast he put on me didn’t move the bone back into place, I’d have to have surgery right then and there. BUT THE CAST WORKED THANK GOD!!!!!!!!!! So I’m stuck with this lovely blue cast for six total weeks, only 4 and a half weeks left now 🙂 Life is a struggle with a cast y’all. But to end the night, my awesome cohort wrote me a precious card that I will forever love and appreciate 🙂

So, moral of the story, I’m a big dummy. And I’m sorry I didn’t tell you mom and Dad lol. I just didn’t want to worry you. But now you know and have plenty of other things to worry about ❤️❤️

Enjoy the pictures of my fabulous third day in Guate🇬🇹🤦🏻‍♀️🤣

Week 1: host fam, PST, language training and FUN❤️🇬🇹❤️

“Wait, I’ve only been here a week?!” Is something you’d likely hear any of the PCTs say at this point. Like seriously, time moves slower in Guate. I feel like I’ve been here in my first site for way longer than just 1 week!

This week (and several prior days) has been full of ups and downs for many of us. From random (destructive) encounters from frisbees, to stomach bugs, adjusting to the Guate lifestyle, finding fun walking/running locations, visits to the community “Féria”, awkward yet beautiful first encounters with host families, language classes, breathtaking yet mildly concerning views of volcanoes that are actively spitting red hot lava out of its mouth, trying new foods, brushing my teeth in a pila, learning how to hand wash clothes in pila, cold yet refreshing showers, scouring the city for an Internet cafe, crazy roller coaster rides on the public transportation (extremely hard with one hand to grip the oh crap bar), visits to the church, cooking on la parrilla, to refreshing cool Guatemalan breezes.

As you can see, this week has been a blunder of events. But if I had to sum up this week into one word, I’d have to say: BRUH. Jk haha. I’d say: GIBIHFBILMCMCMHFAPCFGMTIO (only PSTs and PCVs will get this acronym joke 🤣)

Guatemala is beautiful, I hate frisbees, but I love my community, mis compañeros, my host family and Peace Corps for giving me this incredible opportunity.

Stay tuned for week 2. But in the meantime, enjoy my favorite pics from this week ❤️🇬🇹

Staging, Guatemala and the First 2 days of PST 🇬🇹☮️❤️

Ok, so let’s just start with Staging. Or better yet the morning of staging. Or better than that, a few days before leaving for staging when my mom planned a surprise going away party for me complete with all my favorite foods and people! We ate, laughed, cried and laughed and ate some more, and even had a fire outside to enjoy! It was “one of those nights you would remember forever” directly quoted by my bff Katie. That day was very rough. I had to say goodbye to my little brother and sister that we’re back off to college. It’s hard to say goodbye to people who are in every minute of your life. But I had to remember that it’s only see you later. I cried, took some pictures and sent them off. Then the night before staging, I had to say my goodbyes to my other littlest brother. That was hard y’all. This lil guy is like my right hand. Goodbyes were hard. He didn’t understand because he’s only 12. He doesn’t understand why his big sister is leaving him for 27 months. But the only thing I could tell him was that I was always going to be with him even though I’m not there physically. Just a short phone call away. A simple text. A short video chat. Then the next morning came. Staging day! I woke up (3:00am) from the little sleep I got, showered in my own shower for the last time, cried my eyes out while saying goodbye to my 8 year old Golden Retriever pup, Trigo, slapped my makeup on, had my last cup of morning coffee with my mom and Dad, got dressed in my business casual, finished packing my bag, kissed my little brother on the forehead and told him goodbye one last time, and headed to the airport. Mom and Dad came with me, and on the way we had several encouraging conversations. Just be careful Bailey, we love you so much Bailey, we are so proud of you Bailey. That’s all I wanted to hear. Then we got to the airport, I checked my luggage, and my flight was delayed another couple hours, but my parents had to leave so they could take my brother to school that morning. So I had to say goodbye then. Y’all, that SUCKED. It was a tear fest. In the middle of the airport. I hugged my mom and Dad for the last time for the next 8 months (when I come home for a visit), and I left up the escalator to go through security. After that was over, I was fine! I just had to get past the sad stuff to see the hopefully fun and wonderful stuff there is to come.

I finally land in Houston at like 11:30am, got my luggage and a taxi and went to the hotel where staging was to be held. When I walked in, there were a handful of people with a crap ton of luggage in the lobby and I instantly said “oh ok these have to be my people!” 😅 They all laughed and said “yes that would be us!” From that moment I knew this would be a great experience. A little later we were able to register and then we got our fancy shmancy peace corps passport. Well not really got it, but we got to see it lol. Then we started our sessions and did a bunch of ice breakers and then started with the actual info part of staging. I think my favorite part of staging was that not once did they use a PowerPoint. This was all very real talk, unscripted and honest conversations about what lies ahead for us in Guatemala. It was a mini crash course of what to expect during our time with the Peace Corps as well as a review of the policies and protocols. Then we did a few more activities and then finally we finished. We were given information about our flight to Guatemala, and then staging was complete! Easy peezy! It was not near as stressful as what I was expecting. But everyone’s staging experience will be different so I can only speak for me. We went to eat dinner at chipotle for our last American dinner, and went to room to finish packing once again. Then around 11pm, I was finally able to hit my pillow and get approximately 3 hours of sleep before having to get up in the morning. Once we all were in the lobby at 3:30am, we were given fancy green pieces of yarn that we were told is a Peace Corps tradition. We tied a piece onto both pieces of luggage and were told it was to remind us that we are all a family. *cue tears*. Anyways, we all made it though security around 6:20am. It took us that long to figure out how to send 41 people on a group travel ticket to another country lol. Our flight left at 9:45am, so we had a crap ton of time to kill. So I got a coffee, a sandwich and slept for a while. Then we finally boarded the plane and left for Guate!

When we arrived and came down the escalators there were other currently serving PCVs holding signs, and shouting welcome to Guatemala Bak’tun 12!!!!! There was marimba music playing and it was just perfection. My heart melted!!! We then made it through security and customs, got our fancy stamp in our official PC passport, and loaded our luggage loaded ourselves in little busses to head for the PC office. I sat next to this guy who is also a YiD volunteer and we just chatted about everything about Guatemala and his experiences and it was such a wonderful conversation ☺️ Then we made it to the Peace Corps office. It is BEAUTIFUL Y’ALL!!!!!! It looks like a freaking embassy that’s how beautiful it is. Flowers everywhere, green luscious grass and trees, cool crisp air…. AY QUÉ RICO! We had never ending supply of coffee and then we started our sessions for the rest of the day after we ate lunch. Then at 5 we went to pack a small bag for the next three days because we would be staying in a hotel for the duration of the three days. Then at 6pm we had dinner which was soup and chicken, DELISH. Then we played some name games with the group and then bed time!

Next morning was even more fun filled, but it’s 10:30pm here and I’m exhausted so I’m going to have to tell y’all about this day tomorrow 😅 Bottom line, I LOVE GUATEMALA. Buenas noches mi gente!

Today is THE DAY. Hoy es EL DÍA.

Well today is the day. The day that I say goodbye or rather “see you later” to everything I’ve known and completely hop ship into a whole other world. Am I scared? Not really. Am I sad? Yes. But not as much anymore because all the goodbyes are finally over with. Saying goodbye to my family and dog and friends was one of the saddest things I’ve had to do. But a wise witty soul once told me: “your friends and family will still be your friends and family no matter where you go.” I know that no matter what I have their love and support and that makes all the difference in this transition. Am I excited? ABSOLUTELY. I am beyond ready to begin this journey. I literally cannot believe this day has finally came. It feels like yesterday I was just putting in my application. My brain is having a hard time fathoming that this is real. I feel like any moment I could just wake up and all of this could be fake. But it’s not! It’s real! I’m moving to Guatemala!

I am currently in the Pensacola International Airport and the fun adventures have already begun and I haven’t even arrived to Guate yet! Flight delays are SO MUCH FUN YALL. So now instead of arriving at 8:53am in Houston, TX I’m arriving literally at 11:23am. LOL. It’s a 20 minute uber ride from the airport to the hotel and registration is at 12pm. So this should be interesting 😅 Managing two 50 pound suitcases and a 25 pound backpack while running to the parking area of the airport will be the highlight of the day. I just may get my 6 pack of abs in one day 🤣 Only time will tell. Anyways, I’m looking forward to meeting all of our team and learning a ton at staging! I can’t believe I’ll be in Guatemala tomorrow 😭🇬🇹☮️❤️ God is good y’all. So good. I pray for safe travels for everyone today! Also before ending this blog, you should be freaking ecstatic to know that both my pieces of luggage were UNDER 50 POUNDS AND I DIDNT HAVE TO PAY FOR OVERWEIGHT LUGGAGE!!!!! Like I said, God is good y’all. Alright! More blogs to come after staging takes place!!!! Love you all!

13 days and a Student Loan Crisis…

 

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WHERE DO I EVEN START. Ok, let’s start with this simple suggestion: GET YO STUDENT LOAN CRAP TAKEN CARE OF WAYYYYYY BEFORE I DID. I leave in approximately 13 days and I just found out today that only 2 of the 5 loans I have are in repayment, which means that the first Income Driven Repayment plan application I submitted only applies to those 2. Not the other 3. SO more bad news… The other 3 that are currently in grace period do not enter into repayment period until February. WELL that’s bad because in order for the last 3 loans to be placed on the IDR plan like the other 2 loans, I have to (brace for it) FILL OUT A WHOLE OTHER FORM AND SUBMIT MY PROOF OF INCOME ALL OVER AGAIN. I won’t be able to come home until May. That was my plan. Wait until May, after being in Guate for 6 months, a small trip home was in my plans. But now I have this to worry about. According to the lovely people at my loan provider, I have 2 choices. Choice #1: re-submit my IDR application again along with the proof of income in February online, pending I have access to internet, pending nothing has happened to my computer (I’ve had bad luck with computers my whole life). Choice #2: Hire a Power of Attorney for them to fill out the paper work and mail it in back stateside. OBVIOUSLY, option #2 is not an option for me. I have less than 2 weeks remaining stateside, I haven’t the time to wait on the paperwork for getting a Power of Attorney. So. My only real choice is to hope and pray for internet in February. Or else I will have a $460/month payment due, which wouldn’t be possible for me to pay on PC salary. I will keep y’all updated on this process, becuase I hope that it helps the next person who is trying to tie up loose ends before leaving for their service. I have called my loan provider at least 10 times and each time they have told me a different story of what I need to do and how I need to do it and when I need to have it done by. I was frustrated. But then I remember once again, my tattoo, déjelo fluir. Let it flow. Just go with it. So I am not going to worry about it. I will hopefully have access to internet that specific month and everything will be hunky dory. Lol.

Anyways, it’s under 2 weeks until staging! Ahh! I can’t even believe it! I can’t wait. I am getting more sad when I think about hugging my dog for the last time until I get to come home again, but other than that, no tears have been shed 🙂

Stay tuned to “la vida loca de Bailey…”

Dear Facebook World…

The past 7 months for me have been a whirlwind of emotions. I am not even sure I can write this post and do it justice after everything that has happened. But now I can finally make it facebook official, so here goes. The best way to make this announcement is to start by saying how grateful I am to have family and friends in my life that both love and support me both in the states and internationally. And because of that, I was able to do something I never thought was possible for me. On December 10th, I did something crazy (thanks to my best friend Marie Adkinson for being an amazing example and role model). I applied for a position with the Peace Corps. On January 5th, I was extended an interview for a position in Nicaragua to teach English that would depart on August 5th, and I accepted the interview. On January 24th, I was offered the position! And I was given 3 days to make my decision whether to accept or decline the position. This has been something I have wanted my whole life, to have the opportunity to live in another country and work with the youth somehow. I didn’t need 3 days to make my decision. Because what if this opportunity never came again? Would I regret it? Would I wish I chose differently? What would I do with all my stuff? Would I sell it? Would I have to give up my apartment? Sell my car? Quit my beloved teaching position at RHS? There were a lot of doubts that initially crossed my mind and tried to flood my perspective. But then I said enough is enough. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that the Lord has placed in my lap. I decided to put my trust in Him instead of my doubts. So of course I accepted it! But then recently on June 1st, we got an email from our placement officer in regards to the civil unrest that is going on in Nicaragua and that unfortunately we would not be able to continue with our training class as scheduled. I was heartbroken because my mind was so set on being in Nicaragua and teaching English at a local high school and for the fact that it was a short bus ride away from Costa Rica, my home away from home. So we were given the option to be reassigned to another country, but with that comes a whole new departure date, and possibly a country that doesn’t speak the languages you know. I was excited but also nervous to find out the country they would offer me to serve in, but I told myself that regardless I would love whatever choice they gave me and I would serve the people whole-heartedly. On June 5th I received my new assignment to be a Youth in Development Facilitator in Guatemala! I was ecstatic to find out that not only would I still be getting to work with the youth, but I would still be in Central America (where my heart lies) and I would still be able to use the languages I know! After a long dueling medical clearance process that started in January, on June 26th (the day I arrived in Costa Rica to complete my last study abroad program for my Master’s degree) I received medical clearance and resigned from my teaching position at RHS on July 3rd. As of right now, I am officially all set to depart for Guatemala on September 25th, 2018 for a total of 27 months. Words cannot describe the level of excitement that I have for this incredible opportunity. I am honored to have this chance to work with Guatemalan Youth while also serving with the Peace Corps.

To my students-

You have made my 3 years at RHS some of the most exciting and best years of my life. I will be forever grateful that the Lord chose me to be your teacher. You all are such a blessing to me! Saying goodbyes were never really the easiest things for me to do, so I’m not going to do it. We’re just going to say “hasta luego”. You all have such bright futures ahead of you and I cannot wait to see you grow and prosper, and graduate! Never stop following your dreams no matter what anyone says. If you want something in life, and you know this is the plan God has for you, then you go after it and don’t stop until you reach it! There will be times and people in this life that are discouraging; and that is just life. But if you always know deep down who you are, what your goals are and what you stand for, there is nothing that can stand in your way. Love you all so much! Take care, and keep learning Spanish 🙂 Hasta luego!

To my siblings, Carly Cincotta, Noah Cincotta and Adam Cincotta-

I love you all so much and it makes me really sad to think about spending 2 years and 3 months without seeing y’all. Thank you for always sticking beside me regardless of all the many tons of arguments we get in. You are the best siblings anyone could ever ask for. I love you guys and I didn’t want to make this post without letting you all know how important you are to me and how blessed I am to be your big sister. Try not to kill each other at college Carly and Noah, lol…. Adam, you’re finally going to be the only child in the house! Haha, congrats love monkey! Be a good cousin, uncle, dad to my sweet boy Trigo while I’m gone, ok? 🙂

To my parents, Lisa Cincotta and Chris Cincotta-

Also, I can’t make this post without giving my parents a shoutout for putting up with me being their newest housemate again! Since March I have been living with them in order to build a savings for when I am out of the country. They have been beyond tolerating, hospitable and loving to me and my sweet pup Trigo. I know I don’t tell you enough, but I sincerely appreciate all you do for me and for your favorite granddog (sorry Carly Cincotta) 🙂 I know you both are nervous for me to be doing this “extreme” thing. But I also know that no matter what I do, I will always have your love and support through it all, no matter how many grey hairs I give you both 🙂 Love y’all so much!

Future Bak’tun 12 PCV,

-Bailey

Finally in the ‘teens’! Expectations and phase 2-3-4 of packing continues…

Wow. In 19 days I will board a plane and fly to Houston, TX. Then on day 20, I will be on a plane to begin the next 2 years and 3 months of my life in the beautiful country of Guatemala. Many of you are probably wondering the same question. “Aren’t you nervous?” And to answer that question, yes. I am about 45% nervous, 5% scared, and 50% excited/anxious. Whenever I think about leaving for 27 months, I physically give myself a stomach ache. Must be the 45%… Glad we covered that. Moving on!

Since about day 50, I have been filling my brain with every page of the PCV Handbook, all billion pages of it. And the one thing that really stuck with me after reading a thousand pages and what really made me feel confident about my decision was this: “Together, Volunteers and staff form PC/Guatemala. We are one team working together to maintain an effective program of grassroots development that provides sustainable results for the people and communities of Guatemala. Good communication, mutual respect, and trust are essential components of an effective team and are attributes expected of all Peace Corps Volunteers and staff.” Peace Corps is all about unity and world peace! Yes! Just like Miss Congeniality! I am so thrilled to dedicate my time and serve with such a prestigous and unified team of volunteers and staff.

Given that said, one thing that all volunteers have said NOT to do, is arrive with expectations. I’ve read and been told by current PCVs as well as staff that if you arrive with expectations, you are opening yourself up to be potentially disappointed. Peace Corps is NOT a joyride, nor a vacation. It is a professional position and should be treated as such. Yes, it will be a marvelous adventure filled with unforgettable experiences, but some people tend to forget that this is a 2 year committment. A lot can happen in 2 years. And that is something I keep reminding myself. To go into this adventure with an open heart, an open mind and with zero expectations. Recently I got another tattoo in Costa Rica, and it says “Déjelo fluir” which means “let it flow”. Thankfully that has been a constant reminder throughout this entire process. No matter what happens, just go with it. Let it flow. Take it as it comes. There is no need to worry! I know the Lord will protect me, and that my friends and family will continue to support and encourage me through this process, and that makes ‘not worrying’ so much easier!

Next topic: Packing… Phase 2-3-4

FUN STUFF. DÉJELO FREAKING FLUIR BAILEY. Packing is a fun process. Don’t get me wrong. But it is also one of the most time consuming, stressful, frustrating processes in the entire world. Especially for a 27 month trip. I’ve really been focusing on remembering about me. What do I like? What will make me smile on bad days? What will help me get through a rough day at work? Self-help kit people. For those of you reading this and are considering the Peace Corps, or are packing yourselves for this grand adventure, remember to bring things to take care of you! I love zumba. So I’m bringing a zumba DVD to play on my computer. I love chili, so I’m bringing some chili packets to make on cold rainy days where I miss home. I love my dog, so I’m bringing some pictures to keep on me at all times and in my room. I love music, so I’m making a kick butt playlist on spotify to listen to later. Little things that bring me joy.

I started packing clothes today. Gosh this is so fun, and by fun, I mean not fun at all hahahaha. I bought these fancy vacuum sealable bags to try and save space, but they are not cooperating as planned, so I’m now resorting to rolling them like I originally planned. So yeah. I planned to use a carry on sized suitcase for my clothing to help limit the amount of clothes I would bring. Yeah, that’s not working either. I’ve jam packed it, got it to zip, and still haven’t put in my socks, underwear, bras, sweatshirts, or shoes. SO back to the drawing board once again…

I’m truly sincerely trying to not overpack on clothing. I’m really only trying to bring the absolute essentials. Business casual attire, underwear, bras and shoes. Those are the most critical. The rest I can find in Guate when I get there. Because guess what! They have Walmart!! Bet y’all did expect that 🤣 So I’ve decided instead of using a carry on sized suitcase, I’m going to use a duffle and hopefully have enough room. If not, I’ll break out my super huge suitcase and make it work. I’m just trying to avoid it like the plague lol. Because whatever we bring, we need to be able to carry from place to place by ourselves. Stay tuned for the official packing list in phase 5-6-7!

I went to the dollar tree yesterday and stocked up on cute little kid toys and a toooooon of stickers. I’ve read that’s something that the kids have loved so I have a lifetime supply now. Watch me get there and not use one sticker lol. I’ll let y’all know!

Also, another recent bummer, no mail can be sent to Guatemala right now *insert sad face*. But that’s ok. I guess I can survive without Reese’s peanut butter cups 😭😭😭😭😭😭

Ok, that’s all I have right now. But omg I leave in 18 days! Ahh! So excited! I can’t wait! Stay tuned for the next update on this crazy fun process 🙂

Fun kid toys! *Billion stickers not pictured*