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15 February 2010 @ 05:17 pm
It's got some slow internet, but I'm making due, and will still try and keep up this blog.  I'm with a real cool group of people, we're training right now. 

Gosh, I don't really know what to say, and I have to leave the cafe soon to go to my host family - who is wonderful so far.  very nice people.

Anyway, here are some quick crazy things I've encountered the last few days.

1.  WWE is a huge craze here right now.  I was eating dinner and I was stopped mid conversation by a 45 year old man to tell me that the Undertaker was wrestling and then to ask if it's true that wrestling is actually fake.

2.  The highest denomination is a 1000$ but that's equivalent to a five dollar bill in the US

3. Bootleg movies have creolese subtitles.  The creolese here is mostly slang and english - it really is another language, I don't understand a word of it.  The boys were watching Shrek - it said something like "Be out me way you donkey" when shrek said "Get out of my way, donkey"

4. Two types of main genres of music - fast paced reggae and then 50's style country music.  It's bizarre stuff.

5. They have fried plantains which are delicious just by themselves, but they have this mango sauce with hot peppers, which is really spicy and awesome.

Other than that stuff, Heather and I have also experienced an indian festival and I got to wear a special shirt called a korta and heather a really pretty dress, I'll post pictures soon. 

Anyway, gotta go, adios, bye./
04 February 2010 @ 10:51 pm
I could post a lot right now, but it's all just boring stuff.  I just wanted to post cause I am EXCIIIIIIIIITED to leave for staging in 10 hours!
10 January 2010 @ 09:01 pm
I think a lot of us live in a bubble.

People seem to think that what Heather and I are doing with the Peace Corps is crazy of us. Why in the world would we want to go to another country to help others? Why don't you just stay in the U.S. and help our own people? Why do you want to go live in poverty? I can't see how people can even ask those questions. Granted, I dont feel like we are going to go and make a world change. We're going to go into it hoping to make A change, but how big of a change on others we have, I dont know. I'm most excited on us doing the changing. Right now, we live in a cozy apartment where we have all the amenities we could possibly want. We can change the temperature, have clean water, light, whatever with the flick of a switch. That's one of the many reasons of why I want to go into the Peace Corps. I want to go and live in an area where I have the most basic of basic living quarters. I'm talking about having to boil water, use candlelight, bucket bathe, take a crap in a hole, grow our own food kind of lifestyle. There are 1.6 billion people in this world who have no electricity. I've lived in this bubble my entire life, I am anxious to live simply. I want to be challenged. 1.6 billion people deal with this every day for their whole life, I think I can do it for 2 years. I'm anxious for the challenge and excited to be humbled, and I get to do it all with my wife!

Bear in mind, roughing it is not the only reason I am doing the Peace Corps.  There are many other great, great reasons I want to.  This is just something I thought of just now and wrote about.  Sorry for such a serious post.  I'm just pumped up and ready!
05 January 2010 @ 08:15 pm
For the 10 people that click on this blog and read it, here's an update.

Passport stuff has been taken care of. Thank goodness. My back was getting a little sore from constantly being in the fetal position.

Christmas has come, and Heather and I got everything else we could possibly need for Guyana. So, we're ready to start packing. One thing heather and I got from my parents that was much cooler than I was expecting was the Amazon Kindle. I am a little hesitant with it because one of the things I am hoping to happen during Peace Corps is to be dependent from technology. But at the same time, I cant deny how cool this thing is. It has international wireless. It even has fairly decent wireless in Guyana. I can get newspapers, magazines, books, pdf emails all while in Guyana in the middle of the Jungle. That's pretty cool. As much as I want to separate myself from technology, I can say that it reduced our pile of books from 30 pounds to 10. Not to mention all the space it saved in our packs.

Right now I'm up in Charlotte with Heather visiting her Aunt, Uncle, and cousin. It's been pretty fun, we had our 1 year anniversary down here, went to a panthers game (courtesy of AK and UJ), ate a lot of sushi, played laser tag, and drove up to Roanoke to visit my Grandpa. I also accidentally took back roads from Roanoke and felt like I was going to die on every turn. Also while in charlotte, my relatives have had mindnumbingly stupid shows on non-stop. Can someone please tell me what draws people to these shows? Every reality show on that girls love seem to be about dumb (literally), spoiled, shallow, and famous-for-no-reason people being followed around on camera with fake drama. I swear that some country out there is implementing a long term strategy of using the media to make America dumber and dumber. AND ITS WORKING! Yeesh.

Last bit of news is that today we had a phone interview via satellite with some Guyana PC workers. It was interesting, the conversation had a 1 or 2 second delay that made it really hard to talk. The good news is is that it seems like me and Heather might have no problem getting placed in a rural area (which we want). I am excited to grow some of our food, raise chickens, and whatever else my brain thinks it will be like there. So, kind of a boring post, but there you go. That's the news of the day. Actually, I did think of something else, I'll probably post that later on. It's a whole 'nother post. Bye.
20 December 2009 @ 12:16 am
After lots of passport scares, it seems that everything is going to work out.

What happened is, Heather's step mom (when Heather was 15) did the paperwork to get her a passport. Well, she put the wrong birthday for Heather. And because the birthday was off by one day, a few red flags were shot up in the passport system. To make a long story short, we were going to be cutting it very close with how soon we got her passport and how soon we left for guyana. Luckily, a nice lady named Marsha Brown was able to help us out and simplify the situation. Thank goodness.

During the time when the passport issue was unresolved, I couldn't sleep, eat, concentrate. I usually don't ever get stressed out - I basically just laid on the couch helplessly. It was no fun, and I'm so glad that it's over - I hope.

A word to anybody else that is currently in the steps of being invited and waiting for their departure date - check your passport status online. The passport office did not call and alert us that there was a problem. We had to call them after checking and seeing that something was amiss.

In other news, go get the album "This is Mali" by Amadou and Mariam. It's good.
10 December 2009 @ 01:18 am
So, not much has happened lately. We're all still waiting. Our guy22 group has gotten larger though. For anyone reading this, there are two groups for us on facebook - "pc guyana 22" and "peace corps guyana" So if you aren't already on there, go join it, that's where we're all hanging out.

Heather and I have gotten nearly everything. My parents are getting us a few odds and ends here or there for christmas. There won't be much surprise to what we're getting, but we need the stuff, so that's good.

Anyway, I guess I'm writing this post out of excitement and boredom. You see, I am jobless right now. Well, I have a job, but it's seasonal - they only need me from March through November, and thanksgiving and christmas holidays. This means that I sleep in til 12, play disc golf, and waste way too much time doing absolutely nothing. However, lately I have been busy packing a box here or there, growing out my facial hair, and learning the countries and capitals. I have been OBSESSED with learning geography for some reason. I hated the subject in school, but love it now. bizarre. Just 30 minutes ago, I officially was able to list all the countries and their capitals. Did you know that Russia is the capital of Asia? Granted I'm going to have to keep practicing it to keep the stuff burnt into my brain, but, still, I'm very proud of myself. I'm not just proud of that. Whenever I hold my baby nephew, my college beard scrapes his face and he starts crying. That's pretty cool right? I feel like I should be proud of that. Despite my extra time though, I have slacked off BIG TIME with learning and practicing French. I need to get on the ball. The hardest step is the first one, after that, it's no problem.

In other news, Heather and I got our ring tattoos. It's roman numerals of 1.3 (I.III). That's our wedding date. I like them, parents - not so much. My mom is trying to be supportive of it, but you can just see this confused/slightly upset look on her face when she talks about it. My dad doesn't say anything about it. That pretty much means it isn't what he would've done if he were me. But I suppose it isn't about them. Heather and I love them, so that's good.

What else? Not much, except I am VERY ready to go to guyana. Thanks for reading. And again, if you got invited to Guyana feb, 5, 2010, check out pc guyana 22 and peace corps guyana on facebook.


carson (the nephew) reacted favorably to the ring tattoos. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT CARSON!
27 November 2009 @ 01:07 pm
Hello, and happy Black Friday, and Happy late thanksgiving. One of those holidays is boring, the other holiday is a collection of crazy idiots. I'm not trying to sound pessimistic, but Thanksgiving time is in my opinion the most boring time of the year. The only benefit to thanksgiving is that after it's over, you can play christmas music. Let me explain:

For thanksgiving, Heather and I went over to my parents house, that's not too bad, but it's not too exciting either, however my mom and dad invited our neighbors and their parents over. They are all quite nice people, but also the most boring people ever. They also live a more ritzy life style. Translation: They talk about real estate all throughout dinner, smell like rich old lady perfume, and wear stupid sweater vests (Bonus fact - they have a dog named looloo). That also made my mom slightly obsessed with trying to impress these aristrocrats. "Does the napkin go on the left or the right of the plate Kellen?" The answer is - it doesn't flipping matter. When they arrived we started dinner soon after. None of them sneered their nostrils in disgust, so the napkin must've been on the correct side (thank god). We had a 10 minute conversation at our table about boxes, and how the boxes get stuck in their dumpster at their business. We then went on to talk about the stuff on the table that we were eating. Yes, wow, that cranberry dish is so colorful, mmm, you put pineapple with the ham - ah I see, I'll have to write that recipe down later. Oh, the secret is that I added a pinch of brown sugar to the stuffing - just a pinch though. As you can imagine, I was on the edge of my seat throughout all of dinnertime.

After that, Heather and I had to go to her Dad's house for thanksgiving. Without going into too much detail - he's a religious nut who believes the rapture is coming and he always has a tumbler in his hand. Trust me, there is much more I could tell you about him. Eating over there wasn't half bad, Heather's sister and baby were over there. That made it a bit nicer. (The baby is pretty freakin sweet and it smiles a lot now). Back on point, our dinner at My father in law's house was a bit less mundane, but all the while not the greatest. Most of the night there was spent passing the baby around, and when that wasn't happening, the time would be spent with my father in law karate chopping heather and then laughing. The one positive thing I can take out of the night over there, is that Heather's dad signed a document stating that if the rapture doesn't happen by 2015, he will give me 5 thousand dollars. Seems like a win win situation to me. If the rapture comes - ok, if it doesn't, there's 5k waiting for me.

And then there's the issue of hanging out with your buddies after thanksgiving. You gotta wait, just like on christmas day, because you aren't sure if it's appropriate to call yet. You call too early, you feel like a jerk. Oh my gosh, I can't believe Kellen called during our Thanksgiving time. What a jerk.

Its just not so fun. I hate the holiday, it's too boring, and I'm thankful that it's over.

Unfortunately, Thanksgiving leads right into Black Friday. This is one of the stupidest, most idiotic, display of Americans. People become frothing at the mouth, just to get something they could've bought online for the same price. I went out last night for fun with my friends to the mall to enter our names in a 6 thousand dollar giveaway - this was at midnight by the way. And the place was PACKED. Lines 50 feet long went out into the street to stores like Coach and Dooney and Burke. I have news for you girls that think these purses are the greatest - they're not. They have stupid, ugly, and uncreative designs. You only buy them because people tell you they are fashionable, and no guy could give a crap what kind of purse you have and if it is or is not a fake or real version. BARF

We consume too much at a level that is dangerously stupid. I'm not saying I'm immune, I buy stuff unneeded all the time. I hope I get weened off of that lifestyle out in Guyana. Its terribly unhealthy to live how we do now. Too many uneccessary items in our lives.

Alright, I think I'm done ranting and raving about how much I hate Thanksgiving holidays. Heather's backpack came in this morning, as tempting as it is to open, I'll let her do it when she gets home from work. My travel atlas should be coming in today too. Lately I have been obsessed with geography and where all the countries are - go on, ask me where Canada is, I dare you. I'm going to try and work on bodies of water next. Other than that, our Peace Corps Guyana group is growing. It's so nice to see other people in the same boat, and as excited as I am. I can only talk about it so much with my friends, they listen about it now, but probably just to be nice and make me feel good. I mean, it's been two months and all they ever hear is Guyana guyana guyana. They're at the stage now where they just act interested because they're my friend. Still, knowing that, I will still slip in a guyana reference - I'm just too excited. "I'm sorry to hear that your mother is passing away. But you know, in Guyana, their main export is bauxite".

Ok, That's it, if anybody is reading this and they got invited to Guyana, and you aren't in the group yet:

Look for both of these groups on facebook - PC Guyana 22 and Peace Corps Guyana - That's where everyone has been meeting up. Hope you enjoyed the read. Kellen
23 November 2009 @ 09:38 pm
Ok, peacecorpsjournals.com? Can you please switch me over to that country instead of applicant?

Anyway, Things are starting to get goin for me and heather. We have everything, besides a few small things, that we need for our time there. Our backpacks should be coming in the mail real soon so within a week we'll be able to get a rough estimate of how we stand as far as packing space goes. I'm excited. In fact, here is what we have so far. And now that I think about it, I'm going to just list what I'm bringing. Heather can list what she's bringing because I dont want it to seem weird if I list a liter bottle of lotion or a gross of tampons.

  • dress shoes
  • new balance sneakers
  • technical sandals
  • rainbow sandals
  • 4 polos
  • 2 button up shirts
  • 1 tie
  • 4 24 inch bungee cords
  • 5x8 siltarp
  • super glue
  • nalgene bottle
  • extra glasses
  • bottle of excedrin
  • pull and peel envelopes
  • shortwave radio with guide
  • 2 leathermens
  • queen set of sheets and covers
  • netbook with case and cords
  • travel hammock
  • large and small stuff sack
  • journal
  • where there is no doctor/pet doctor book
  • 10 misc. books
  • some banana game with scrabble tiles
  • fishing line
  • duct tape
  • paracord
  • ziploc bags
  • 2 bandanas
  • 3 dress pants
  • 3-4 shorts
  • 7-8 shirts
  • underwear
  • some socks
  • money belt
  • ipod
  • hat
  • rain coat
  • watch
  • guyana map
  • frisbee
Ok, so, it seems like a lot, but when it is layed out on the floor, it doesn't look like a lot. That's good though. I'd like to see how light I can get my pack. Of course I have to wait for that to come in.

In other news, this past week, people have been popping up online as people who have been invited to serve in Guyana. Heather and I have had our invitation for 2 months now and it seemed like we were the only ones. It is so nice to see others are in the same boat. So far, there have been 2 other married couples, and 2 others. Guyana group 22 is growing slowly. I had made a facebook group for all of us to join at, but it turns out that so did they. However, they also decided to name it a much easier and more simple name than mine. So I think we should use theirs.

Heather and I are both excited. I'm ready to get this thing started.
30 October 2009 @ 03:29 pm
So, Heather and I have been preparing to leave.  One might gather that from the title of my post.  

But, here's what I've found out, here's what we're doing, here's my insight:

What I've found out:

Heather and I have accumulated so much CRAP over the years.  We had a yard sale last week and got rid of a lot of crap.  95% of it we never really ever used.  It's amazing how much junk we have.  And, I hope I'm not stereotyping, but, I feel like most Americans do this.  We are a consumer culture, and its just kind of stupid that we buy buy buy, when we can get by on so much less.  In fact, even though we are in the process of getting rid of our junk (we'll probably have 2 or 3 more yard sales), this culture of consumerism is still engrained in me.  You might think that knowing I will be leaving in 3 months that I would have no desire to buy anything.  Wrong.  Even though I certainly don't need anything, when I walk in a target or whatever, I still have this desire to buy something.  It's ridiculous.  I'm really looking forward to peace corps breaking that lifestyle of mine.  It's wasteful, superficial, and only makes me happy for what?  maybe a few days before that purchase high wears off.   One thing I am glad of is that I'm conscious of this.  I realize that its kind of shallow to buy for the sake of buying.  I recognize that.  Having a yard sale and seeing all the unneccessary crap that Heather and I have accumulated over the years allowed me to see that.  That yard sale is hopefully the first of many smacks in the face I will receive in preparation for and during my time with the peace corps.

On a side note, does anybody want to buy the following:  one fifteen pound weight, an eight ball, or guess who (missing a few pieces)?

Other than the yard sale, we're starting to get ready for all of the financial obligations.  Stuff like our 30 thousand dollars of student loans, storing furniture and other possessions, power of attorneys, life insurance beneficiaries, personal property insurance and so on.

I just now bought a personal property insurance policy tailored just for peace corps volunteers.  Its not affiliated with the PC at all, but they tailor their policies to the volunteers.  If you are interested in checking them out, the people I bought from are "Clements International".  Their website is missionsabroad.clements.com .  It cost me and Heather 180 bucks each year starting with the date of our service (feb 9, 2010) to cover about 3500 bucks of valuables.  It's worth looking into.  They also have Health insurance for returning volunteers.  

So, that's what I've been doing.  I think Heather and I are a bit lucky in the fact that we received such an advanced notice on our assignment.  4 months of notice I dont believe is typically the norm.  I feel fortunate that we have ample time to get this done.  For those expecting your invitations soon, get a head start and get rid of all the crap you have.

Now, I'm going to go take a look at the life insurance forms.  Hope this is of help to anybody.  Kellen.

Oh, and for fun check out wordsmith.org

Georgetown, Guyana - A young reggae town
06 October 2009 @ 07:11 pm
 I took out my shortwave radio today, wondering if I could find a guyanese broadcast.  After looking online for the station, I realized that my radio won't receive their stations from where I am.

However, looking online, I did find this

A free streaming of Guyana Radio.  Wonder what they listen to over there?  Wonder no more!  Behold the local music mixed in with 90's R&B, this is Guyana Radio!

Anyway, I'm sure if you do a google search, you can find several other countries - zambia, macedonia, bolivia, bulgaria, and many other countries that end in ia - all with free streaming radios.  

[update: found this site here that might help your search for other stations - http://radio-locator.com/ ]