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Archive for May, 2006

I’d forgotten to post during the packing fury. Our last day in Melbourne is behind us. We’re currently in New Zeland waiting for our flight to Los Angeles. In Melbourne we were very overweight with luggage and had to chuck over 20 kilos of stuff at the airport!

Well, that was ONE way to get rid of stuff that we didn’t really need. One to the next journey, New Zealand to LA to Miami/Boston.

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With our departure date just about ready to pop around the corner, we’ve been trying to figure out our financial situation as far as student loans are concerned. We owe heaps, education is expensive. One of our loans happens to be a private student loan, which offers no mercy to Peace Corps volunteers – meaning the maximum amount of time one can request of deferment is one year. We will have to dig into our readjustment allowance to pay the monthly interest for the first year and then derfer them or, continue to pay interest throughout our Peace Corps service. I’m not even as excited about this so-called readjustment allowance as I used to be for two reasons:

1. Taxes are taken out, just as if you were working at any other job. Normally I wouldn’t mind having to pay taxes, as they pay for good things such as schools, new roads, hospitals and very much-needed wars in Iraq (note the sarcasm in the last point). But we earn so much less per year than the average person in America working full-time job at minimum wage.

2. We will probably be deducting about $90-$100 per month to pay interest on that bugger of a loan that doesn’t favour Peace Corps Volunteers.

This quote comes directly from the Peace Corps Yahoo Group:

Acutally, it ends up being LESS than $6000 because they take out
taxes. I think when all was said and done it was a little over
$4500...FYI

A little over $4,500!!!!!! Subtract 24 interest-only payments of $100 dollars each and your total is $2,400, therefore leaving each of us with about $2,100, or $4,100 between the two of us. Talk about a shocker!

Well, on the positive side, $4,000 is better than nothing or getting malaria. It will be put to good use such as travel and finding a place to live in which ever part of the world we may be headed to after Peace Corps.

I remember being 14 and getting $40 a month for allowance was a lot. These days, a couple thousand gets a shoulder shrug or “I’ll take that over nothing!”.

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We haven’t had much in the refridgerator since last week so I picked up some last provisions that should last us through the week. Geez, it felt like I was preparing for the last supper, I spent a good 15 minutes in the bread goods isle – and it was mostly empty because it was 11pm:

1 box of 12 individually-wrapped Tim Tams (for me)
2 plums
2 pears
250 grams of pistachios
1 pkg of Maria biscuits (for Will)
1 pkg of wholemeal crackers
hummus
soy milk
mini loaf of multi-grain bread
1 Tetrabrik of Mango-Apple juice
vegetarian mozzerella cheese
Mango tea

I want to say this will be my last trip to the supermarket, but we have a dinner party tomorrow and I need to get stuff for my/our Peace Corps Survival Kit – a kit of sorts which will take up an entire suitcase. Stay tuned for the exciting list of those contents. No, Oreos nor Peanut Butter will not be on the list.

Tim Tams really are the most irresistable biscuit.

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Current Checklist:

  • The Da Vinci Code came out today. Saw it. Check.
  • Our passports have finally arrived at SATO Travel and have been forwarded for processing. We will get to leave for El Salvador after all. Check.
  • Our flights to staging in DC have been booked and confirmed. Leaving Providence on June 5 at 9:30am. Check.
  • Found new home for Citrus and Sophia. Check.

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This Sunday Will and I went over to Elizabeth Street to buy our super-sleek, ultra-light sleeping bags. I lounged in it all day while reading a book that made me long for Cuba. I also found out how difficult it is to look attractive in a sleeping bag–I felt like a human worm. pretended I was visiting another Peace Corps volunteer and sleeping on their concrete floor. Our carpeted floor was a bit uncomfortable…I wonder was concrete will be like. Hmm.

The last time I had my own sleeping bag it was large, warm, pink and decorated with white fluffy sheep and I slept in it every night. This is definately a step up the fashion ladder!

We’re having Australia’s biggest sleepover this weekend. The end-of-course MIDA (Monash Internationonal Development Association) semi-formal ball is this weekend and about 90% of the 40+ attendants live in the suburbs. Most people will want to stay in the city for the after party and Will and I live in 1 of the 3 flats located in the city. So, our sleeping bags will be put to good use. I’ll ask the sleepers how comfortable they are on bare floors and take purchasing action of a mat of sorts depending on the results.

I’m quite excited about this weekend as I have visions of having a proper prom-like event (I hated my prom and left early because it was lame), with fancy dress and good friends and minus the way-to-drunk minors. However, it is our last weekend in Melbourne. And what a great last weekend it will be!

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Not so Lucky 13


We have 13 days left in Melbourne. We’re at the point where we bring up at least once a day how many days we’ve got left in this sunburnt country. This is the first time in my life where I’ve said, “But…I don’t want to leave”. When I ride the trams I look out the window and observe every person and every shop that passes by to create the perfect mental picture. When I wake up in the morning, I take a moment to listen to the rest of the building waking up and the city coming to life outside the window. I think about evenings with out Tim Tams, breakfasts without perfectly toasted and buttered crumpets and nights without the scurrying sounds of Citrus and Sofia as they dash about in their bed of woodchips.

Yesterday I woke up and though to myself as I lay in bed staring out the window, “Quite soon I’m going to wake up under a mosquito net…far, far away from this eggcrate lined king-sized bed in a room designed for a double bed. Far, far away from friends, the familiar streets of Melbourne and this wonderful city we’ve come to call home”.

I’m beyond excited about the new adventures that El Salvador holds, but at the same time I feel like I’m going through the motions of some sort of potentially messy break-up. We’re breaking up with Melbourne and it’s starting to hurt.

What is the best cure for a broken heart? Time, I suppose.

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Two things happened today:

1. Since the Melbourne US Consulate took care of lodging our no-fee passport applications I though we were on the fast road to getting our passports. Today I recieved an email from the Inter-America/El Salvador Country Desk sharing this piece of information: SATO Travel has informed us that they have not recieved your no-fee passport applications. What is this? Does anything we touch disappear into some sort of black hole, never to be seen again? We followed instructions exactly the way the materials advised–except for the Consulate insisting that DC advised them to lodge the applications themselves.

2. Our staging materials came today so we immediately emailed SATO Travel to make our flight reservations to staging in DC. We’re staying at the Holiday Inn. Fantastic. However, we were advised that if our no-fee passport fails to materialise itself, we can forget about getting cleared to leave with our training group.

After coming this far, even after all of the hurdles we’ve jumped over, I’d hate for things to be ruined over a silly passport! Geez.

Think positive thoughts. Think positive thoughts.

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