Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Next Up: Atlanta

After three years with Peace Corps Panama, I'm finally back in the United States and excited for what's next... Moving to Atlanta!

While I was hoping to stay in the Southeast, where I moved post-Peace Corps depended completely on where I could find a great job.  I wanted to work in a pretty niche industry (marketing and business development for a direct trade, bean-to-bar chocolate maker), and I'm so, so happy to have found exactly that here in Atlanta.  

Starting in mid-September, I'll be the Marketing and Sales Coordinator for Xocolatl, a local bean-to-bar chocolate maker.  For the first few weeks I'll be getting to know all about their chocolates and chocolate making process by working in the first retail location in the Krog Street Market.  After that, I'm happy to put my marketing experience to use to help grow the business through restaurant and retail partnerships.  

I really like working with the many different aspects of marketing and business development and enjoy being able to be productive with a variety of projects, so I'm especially looking forward to working in a small business environment.  To be able to have all of that AND within the exact niche market I was looking for means that I'm pretty much over-the-moon about this new job.  

Thanks to Facebook, I also found a pretty sweet house-sitting gig from now-the end of November.  So, in exchange for taking care of two sweet little cats, I have free rent for my first three months of Atlanta living.  

Those rent-free months will certainly come in handy as I have yet another big change- I bought a car! I had been debating on trading in my pre-Peace Corps car, but had yet to come to a decision when it was made for me- My car was totaled in a wreck a few weeks before I came home.  Though thankfully everyone is ok, the car was definitely not and I embarked on a uber-thorough internet search of safe, great-value cars.  The day after I arrived home from Panama my dad and I test drove the Subaru Forester and I fell in love.  

So, there you have it.  I'm home from Peace Corps and in a short few weeks my new Subaru will be taking me to Atlanta to start work at a chocolate shop!  I'm not yet certain about the long-term future of this blog, but since I enjoyed sporadic blogging before Peace Corps, I'll be continuing to write over the coming months.  I may not be able to post about my life in Panama anymore, but you can bet I still love to talk about Peace Corps, travel, chocolate, and my little Panamanian pup, Massy.  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Closing Service and Coming Home

There were times I thought this day would never come, but after 1,134 days in Panama, I'm finally home! I COS'ed (Close of Service) last Thursday, August 11, and am now officially a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.

Since I had already transitioned out of my community and into a more developed site for my third year extension, I mistakenly underestimated the emotions I would be experiencing during my last week in Panama.

On one hand, I was ecstatic for leaving Panama and moving on- I was going to have a few weeks off for much needed family time, and I'd also be buying a computer and car before moving to an awesome city to start an incredible job.  On the other, I was leaving a country that had become home to me.  I love speaking Spanish everyday, buying cheap street food, traveling for work, and being a part of the amazing work that Peace Corps does in Panama.

Atlanta will be great and my new job will be great, but it won't be anything like Peace Corps.

I'm excited and I'm sad, but I know that this is the right time to see what's next.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Guatape and La Piedra de Peñol

Very few places look exactly as they do in Pinterest photographs, but Guatape (the town) and La Piedra del Peñol (the giant rock) are definitely two of them.  A short hour and a half bus ride from Medellin, this is the perfect day trip.  The 740 step climb is more than worthwhile for the views you'll be rewarded with, and afterwards reward yourself with a bandeja paisa for lunch.  The bandeja paisa is typical for the region and boasts a whopping array of rice, beans, ground meat, fried pork rind, sausage, fried egg, potato salad, avocado, sweet plantain, and an arepa. It may be a lot, but surely you've earned it after those stairs ;)