La aventura nos aguarda

We had the most beautiful Valentine’s Day yesterday. We curled up last night with some apples and cheese, some dark chocolate sea-salt caramels (that Andrew brought us back from the states just over a week ago), and a wonderful movie. I’ve always loved UP, but last night took it to a whole new level:

South America Travels

We spent Valentine’s Day planning parts of our 3 month after PC travel – half of which we’ll be backpacking through South America. The only “for sure” we have in our trip thus far is a flight from Buenos Aries to Portland, ME on April 13-15th. Our current itinerary (which could still change as we travel) may include Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and finally Argentina. From hiking in the Andes to boating in the Amazon, we’ve got plenty to explore. And while we won’t be making it to Angel Falls like Carl and Russell (things are a little tricky in Venezuela right now), I couldn’t help but feel like a giddy little kid thinking about all of the adventures we’re about to have in South America, “a land lost in time”….

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Possible bilingual futures

I’d never watched Up before in Spanish, but we did last night. Doing so with such ease reminded me that while I may have had some ups and downs with my Spanish over the course of our service, I’m extremely proud of the progress I’ve made. We’re even looking at potential bilingual jobs for this fall. (Example: I found a 7/8th Science teacher position that would be taught completely in Spanish immersion.) Depending on our final language interviews next week, we could be pretty competitive for those positions and have the internationally accredited certificate to prove it.

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Goodbyes right around the corner

I usually cry during Up, but last night I sobbed. Ellie’s funeral scene just cut me to the core. Not only has Peace Corps brought Andrew and I closer than ever and strengthened our relationship, we have so many family extensions down here now, some of whom are older and might not be here when we return. We have 13 days left as Peace Corps Volunteers. I’m not ready to say goodbye, but the time has come. I’m going to cry so much.

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Filling our book

We’ll be arriving at the Portland, ME airport around midnight Fri. evening/Sat. morning of the 14/15th of April. We’ll start our re-adjustment and re-entry to the United States with my sister and a good college friend up north before starting our trek across the states. We’re planning to attend two of our brothers’ graduations, visit Midwest family and friends before heading out to the PNW. We’ve got a couple weddings and summer camps to attend as well. We may be adventuring for a bit in South America, but afterwards we’re coming back home, and spending time with the loved ones we’ve so dearly missed. It’s family and friends, after all, that fill our adventure book with the most important moments, memories, and love.

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¡La aventura nos aguarda! / Adventure is out there!

Home is Where the Holiday Is

For our last holiday season in Nicaragua, we wanted to be at home in Esteli and spend Christmas and New Years Eve like most Nicaraguans do: in family.  We had two main goals, one of for each holiday.  For Christmas I wanted to try the seasonal dish lomo relleno, and for New Years Eve Emily wanted to make our own viejo. Continue reading Home is Where the Holiday Is

Read Aloud – Spanish Edition

Read Aloud BookThanks to the Multnomah County Library (and our impending end of service language evaluation), we’ve started a new tradition: reading aloud in Spanish.  It’s the perfect thing to pass the time while one of us (Andrew) is cooking, and or the other (Emily) is doing dishes.  We can already tell our pronunciation is improving!

Peace Corps and the Cultural Blogging Community

One reason we currently write May We Suggest is to work towards the Peace Corps’ third goal: to help promote a better understanding of other peoples (in our case, Nicaraguans) on the part of Americans. We want to share our experiences and a bit of the Nicaraguan world with as many as possible state side and beyond.

And while we think our blog is pretty sweet, we are obviously not the holders of all knowledge.  There are un montón of other blogs out there that deserve to be read.

This post aims to share some of the networks of bloggers we’ve developed over our time in Peace Corps.  Whether you’re looking for country specific information, what to pack, cultural insights, travel tips and routes, general information on Peace Corps, or just good stories, we hope these lists are helpful, inspiring, and insightful. Continue reading Peace Corps and the Cultural Blogging Community

Felices Fiestas from Nicaragua

Dearest friends and family,

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When we joined the Peace Corps in 2014, we never thought we’d be this comfortable and at home in a foreign country.  Yet throughout our 27+ months and extension we’ve slowly come to understand and embrace our Gringo Pinolero identities.

Like any year, 2016 brought it’s own ups and downs.

We grew closer to our friends and host families here, but we also greatly missed our loved ones back home.  So we visited home – once to IL (for a funeral) and once to OR (for a birthday/GRE).  And we hosted so many (11) different friends and family members! Showing them our Nicaragua has been an honor and we hope that they now understand a bit more why we love it so much.

We survived a hurricane, and zika, and the long recovery of chikunguyna.  Don’t worry.  None of them were as bad as they sound.

We experienced two national elections – of our host and home countries – through a lens we’ve never had before.  It was quite the experience to be abroad during an election year.

We said goodbye to our cohort since we extended our service, counseled/co-directed 4 camps this calendar year (ACCESS, GLOW, CHACA, and ACCESS again), and celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.

Gallo pinto is now a welcomed staple in our diet.  We learned a lot from teaching in a completely new setting.  We continued to immerse ourselves in Spanish and up our Nica street cred.

We worked hard and earned our keep.  One of our PC Nicaragua staff members says that the longer we’re here, the more qualified we’ll feel to dive deeper into our work.  Now that we’re almost done, we keep thinking of new projects that we could do if only we had the time.

And we’re starting to feel that pressure of time.  So we’re taking as many pictures as we can, celebrating small moments, and striving to live into the intentions we set to aprovechar our time left in Peace Corps.

Life is full of comings and goings, of challenges and lessons, of transitions and blessings.  We embrace what we can, while we can, and strive to have the lessons we’ve learned from our journey guide our way on.  That is what we wish for you this holiday season, and for ourselves in the (big transition) year to come.

Feliz navidad y prospero año nuevo.

Love and light,
Emily and Andrew

12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2016

Two years ago, we began a tradition in our family that would allow us to celebrate the holiday season no matter where in the world we found ourselves.  After 2014 and 2015, we figured we were getting the hang of this 12 Days of celebration and fun, but this year Nicaragua threw us a curve ball.  ACCESS Camp (the annual intensive English camp we’ve helped with the past two years) dates were changed from January to right before Christmas, so we had to be creative.  Nevertheless, our 12 Days were spent remembering to celebrate the small things, to be thankful for what we have, and to invite spontaneous joy into our lives.

The 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2016

Continue reading 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2016

No Internet, No problem

Google dino game

Throughout our time in Peace Corps Nicaragua, we’ve learned that there are varying degrees of having and not having Internet. Despite how it may appear, it’s not a yes or no kind of problem. There’s Internet that is just good enough for Facebook and e-mail, but won’t load videos or images. Then there’s Internet that’s fast enough for video chatting like Skype or Google Hangouts.  And when it’s really bad, and you can’t get anything to load, if you have just a peep of Internet you can play the Chrome dinosaur jumping game while you wait. What’s your highest score? Did you even know this game exists?

Musings from Nica | A Couple's Journey in the Peace Corps

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