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2020 - Winter Impressions from the Isle of Wight


Posted by grizzly99 21:50 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged of isle wight Comments (0)

2020 Recap - A year to remember, for better of worse.

What a year! It started out great with me going to Peru with AHAH to work as the Volunteer Relations Coordinator for the Villacuri Project, building a school. Villacuri is a s all desert community about 30 minutes from Ica. On out one day off, I went to Paracas, Ica and other nearby communities. I also took a 5 day break and went to Ayacucho which I loved. But in March, The Who decanted covid-19 a worldwide pandemic and the project was closed on March 12. This meant that all volunteers and staff had to leave base. I traveled with Bill, a volunteer and friend who was planning to visit Machu Picchu in Cusco. I went to see Bill at the hotel he was staying in Huacachina only to find out he had not bought the bus tickets to Cusco yet. Off we one tot he bus stop and decide to leave the same night instead of opening time and money at the hotel there. This was an overnight trip and we arrived in Cusco on March 16 only to find out through my friend Eli that Peru was going into lockdown at midnight. Borders and airports were closed and lockdown meant no public transport to anywhere. So Eli organized for Guido to pick us up in Cusco and take us to Fundo Primavera, their little farm in Izcuchaca. Eli was not able to leave Cusco as she works at a school where she could not leave from.

Bill is a carpenter genius and built a lot of things for the farm. We cleaned, painted, weeded, cut grass, fed the dogs, cooked up a storm every night, especially a great variety of dishes with pears, fixed roofs and walked into town to buy food. After about a month, the ladies in the market recognized us and were friendlier than at the beginning of the lockdown as they thought that foreigners were the ones to blame for the corona crises.

Because there was no internet nor TV on the farm, we didn’t really know what was happening except whenever we had enough phone date and we could read the news. I had no idea that countries were scheduling repatriation flights and by the time I found out, Germany had finished their flights. Bill organized a repatriation flight back to the USA for the beginning of June. I needed to get to Cusco in order to have wifi so I could check for flights back to Europe. In the end, after staying 10 days in Cusco, I got transport to Lima and was scheduled to fly to Europe on June 16 with a repatriation flight organized by Spanish citizens. The flight ended up being pushed back three times so I asked for a refund, which I received, and booked onto another flight which left Lima on June 27th. I had to stay in Lima for more than 2 weeks due to the flight cancelations. This gave me a chance to go running for long distances from Miraflores to Callao and explore Lima a little bit.

Once back in the UK, my friend was shielding so I could not stay with her. Instead, I spent time on the Isle of Wight staying with a wonderful friend who I met in Leyte when we were both volunteering for All Hands. I finally found work in August and started working at a hotel in the Peak District. The best part of the job was that I had about 7 hours between the morning and evening shift to go walking and running and thoroughly explore the Peak District National Park. But the coronavirus kept on spreading and so, in November 2020, the hotel had to close again due to it being in a Tier 3 category. I went back to the Isle of Wight to stay with my friend and kept myself busy painting his house and going on more hikes.

The saddest part of 2020 for me was that my stepfather passed away after spending two months in a hospital in Germany. It was supposed to be a routine operation but the doctors messed it up and he never recovered. This meant that my mom will have to spend xmas and New Year alone as I am not able to travel since both the UK and Germany have been hit hard by covid.

I am looking forward to a better 2021.



Posted by grizzly99 21:48 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Thanksgiving time in Frederick

After more than 15 years, I am finally back in Frederick to spend Thanksgiving with my family or better, the extended Marshall family. We all went down to Potomac to Aunt Kate's house who catered to 20+ people. It was fantastic to feast on all the yummy food and relish on family time.
Becky and I went to Karen's house to get creative with making some xmas decorations out of toilet paper rolls, spray paint and little xmas figures.


Posted by grizzly99 16:03 Comments (0)

All Hands and Hearts - Smart Response Yabucoa, Puerto Rico

I spent 2 months as a Base Manager with All Hands at the Yabucoa project.  Originally, I applied to the Mexico program but then changed my mind as there became a base manager position available in Puerto Rico.  As I was interested in a Volunteer Relations Coordinator position working as a base manager is a good way to know what the job entitles as the base manager works with the VRC.  It also gave me the opportunity to reconnect with friends I had last seen in 1998 and 2015 in San Juan in addition to spending Thanksgiving with my family in Maryland.  It were two hot months in PR.  When I arrived in September, Nildin picked me up from the airport and I stayed with her for 3 days before she drove me to Yabucoa.  The Yabucoa project has been there since last year, working on repairing homes damaged by hurricane Maria. As for the base manager job - it was hard work keeping a base of 80 people running.  Everything from shopping for food, to keeping facilities clean and up and running to assigning teams to deep clean Monday activities to doing base laundry kept me busy.  Two days of the week I was in the field so I got to do some cementing, scrapping and sealing roofs.  On weekends, we went to the beach, to El Yunque National Forest or drove from town to town to check out lighthouses, communities and beaches.  There are some amazing beaches in Puerto Rico minus the throng of people you would see in Florida.  I think Puerto Rico needs to do some marketing to attract people to their island. After 2 months in Puerto Rico, reconnecting with friends Nildin, Wendy & Stephan and David, I flew to Maryland to spend 3 weeks including Thanksgiving with my family.


Posted by grizzly99 14:35 Comments (0)

UK and Germany

Before heading to Puerto Rico, I went to Germany to visit family and friends for 10 days.  It was wonderful to reconnect with the area I grew up in and meet with former classmates.  I spent time with my family and visited the three state area of Germany, Czech Republic and Poland.  Then I went back to the UK to pack my stuff and celebrate my lovely friend's Margaret 70th birthday.  While in Bournemouth my former All Hands Leyte colleagues James came to visit from the Isle of Wright which was wonderful as I hadn't seen him since the end of the All Hands Leyte program.


Posted by grizzly99 15:15 Comments (0)

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