Rice Cakes

I have a coffee shop in my village. The decor is rustic–hipster chic. It’s full of wooden stools and green plants and it serves the best rice cakes in the world. Yes, in the whole world. It’s a fact. The recipe is a secret passed down from generation to generation. It’s run by a local grandmother. Only,…

Six Months Left (and how I’m trying like hell to avoid cynicism)

At the two year mark… …I gave up on “working” at all–—well, I should say the weather gave it up for me. Three months out of the year–from December to March–we barely work at all. The rain breaks through in deluge after deluge, turning an otherwise fine days into a string of gray, wet messes….

New Year’s in February

I’ve written about New Year’s before…aside from Independence Day, it’s the biggest day of the year. Life can be hard here. No power. Fetching water every day. Working in the fields. Sweating. So that’s why parties mean so much. They’re a break from the every day. And they are so.much.fun. I’ll leave you here with…

Song of the Traveler

Music is my first language; it’s how I understand and relate to the world. When I listen to music, I feel things I can’t describe in words. The sounds, the blending of notes, encapsulates and pulls at emotion better than any language. Each place that’s influenced me, each important event, is marked in my mind…

The Hardest Part

One evening, when I was seventeen, I wrote a list of life goals on a piece of paper and hanged it to my dad. “These are all the things I want to do before I die,” I told him. The list included things like “hike Mount Everest. Skydive. Finish a triathalon.” Now that I’m a…

Strong Like A Woman

Last month, I brought five young Malagasy ladies to Antananarivo for the National GLOW Camp. GLOW is a Peace Corps initiative standing for Girls Leading Our World. The week long girls’ empowerment training was coordinated by a group of third-year PCVs and represented 8 regions and 4 dialects within Madagascar. This poem is inspired by…

Reading Standing Up

This morning I read Green Eggs and Ham to a group of my sixth graders while standing in an empty classroom. They sat on the floor or leaned against the wall. There were no desks. To be clear, we usually have desks. At the beginning of every “typical” school day, I walk in and my…

Wooden Needles

Give me a needle. “I don’t have one.” Ok, then give me a knife. My ten year old host brother eyes me suspiciously. “You really don’t have a needle?” Wait a minute. I go inside the house. I did have one at some point, but it seems to have disappeared under piles of rubble, clothes…

Climbing the Hills of Fianarantsoa, Madagascar’s San Francisco

We roll in late Saturday evening. Looking out the window, I see lights bobbing through dark windows in houses, dancing along the hills. I rub my eyes, still groggy from the ten hour drive from Antananarivo. Am I in San Francisco? In the dark of the night, winding through city hills, I think I could be. Fianarantsoa…