Sea Turtles… Friends or Food?

Culture, Education, Environment, Peace Corps, Travel


Well, it turns out many people in Nicaragua eat sea turtles and their eggs even though it is illegal, there isn’t much regulation. At first it was really devastating to hear as an environmental education volunteer, and while it’s still devastating, I understand that eating sea turtle eggs is a tradition that has been passed down for generations, specifically on the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific. Since learning about this cultural norm, I’ve been asking many people in my community of all ages why they eat sea turtle eggs and if they are aware that sea turtles are an endangered species. I usually hear a local go on and on about how good the taste of sea turtle eggs are with lime and chili and I definitely cringe every time they tell me this, however, I have also learned that many locals depend on selling turtle eggs as their main source of income.

Sea Turtles serve a vital role in the health of the marine and dune ecosystem by being one of the few marine animals that eat sea grass. This is important because as the sea turtles eat the sea grass they keep it healthy and allow the grass beds to spread across the ocean floor, where other marine species such as crustaceans, shellfish and other fish species develop homes and nests. There has been a big decline in sea grass beds and scientists say this can be due to the decline in sea turtles. So the less sea turtles, the less sea grass beds and ultimately the less biodiversity in the ocean overall.

Shrinking sea turtle populations also effects the health of the dune ecosystems. When sea turtles are ready to lay their eggs, they will find an area on the beach or dune and the unhatched eggs, hatchlings and eggshells leftover provide nutrients to the vegetation growing on the dunes. With more nutrients we get stronger plants, with stronger plants we get stronger roots, which leads to healthier and stronger dune ecosystems that will suffer less erosion. With the rise in consumption of sea turtles and their eggs, our dune ecosystems are suffering immensely.

So how can we conserve one of the oldest species on the planet?

Educational events

Beach patrolling

Relocating eggs to sanctuaries

Turtle liberation events



Government Regulation

All of the things listed above support positive behavior change, the most difficult and impactful change that can occur in conservation and development work.

After realizing how much my town enjoyed eating sea turtle eggs, an endangered species, and living close to the pacific coast,  I was conflicted as an environment volunteer; it was a challenge. However, I used this obstacle as inspiration for my sea turtle conservation project that I facilitated with the help of my teachers and a local NGO. A group of 20 students, 3 teachers and myself coordinated a sea turtle conservation day that consisted of an outdoor classroom setting where we showed the students the sea turtle sanctuary and nest area, as well as explained the life cycle of the sea turtles and why they are endangered. By the end of the day, my students and teachers understood how the consumption of turtle eggs correlated to their decline and endangerment as a species; What once stood out to me as a cultural norm that could not be changed turned into an opportunity for education and discussion. 

With strong motivation, creativity, and teamwork I have found the challenges that are presented to you as a Peace Corps volunteer become your best projects and relationship building moments during service.

Grow baby, Grow!

Peace Corps

As Peace Corps Volunteers here in Nicaragua, we are each excited to get to our communities, start making connections and planning projects that will hopefully lead to  long-term sustainable change. We get to our assigned sites with intentions to meet  as many local people as possible like community leaders; the mayor, the school directors and teachers so we can get a feel for their interests and needs to start planning potential projects.

I was most eager to get my hands dirty and start a personal gardening project with a local farmer. Lucky for me, my host uncle has a farm just 2 Kilometers from my home with plenty of fertile soil and cow manure! (an important ingredient to successful gardening) After all the information we received on organic composts, pest control, and veggie gardens, I could not wait to put it all to practice.


Soliciting the leader of the herd for some quality poop to use for the compost


Bike ride to the farm


Tilling the soil (so fertile!)


Compost mixed and ready in a month

This is a one-month compost pile that consists of dirt, cow manure, dry leaves, green leaves, ash and a bit of water. It should be ready in a month to feed my growing plants!


Created four beds to plant cucumber and radishes

The tilling of the soil probably took the longest to prepare since the space was covered in weeds before we got to digging. It was a miracle that I was able to convince my host brother and sister to come out to the farm and help me, especially after seeing how dirty I get after a day on the farm. I’ve learned after living with two host families that Nicaraguans are shower enthusiasts and pride themselves on looking and smelling good. I am clearly the family disappointment…


Pepper plant nursery


Just a week after planting the cucumber


Cucumber plant


3 weeks after planting

At this height my host sister and I installed trellises in the garden so the plant could begin wrapping itself around the string and grow upwards.


My fourth grade student Angel helping me apply a natural pesticide made from leaves of Neem



A month and a half later and I cultivated my first radish!


Brought home organic radishes home to share with the host family


Farm friends

Now that I’ve had a chance to experiment with different gardening techniques I am excited to start the school year in February to teach primary students and teachers how to start a garden of their own at their schools!


Nica Pride, Fiestas Patrias

Peace Corps

Young girls and boys dressed in traditional nicaraguan clothes of all colors, marching, music, dancing and a whole lot of pride for this charming country. This is the atmosphere on September 14th during Nicaragua’s Independence Day and September 15th during the Independence day of all of Central America.


(My adorable students in their dresses dishing out a subtle pout and displaying some national flowers)

Weeks before the holidays you can hear band practice and bombas (fireworks) happening. The schools in our city and cities all over Nicaragua practice for several hours trying to perfect the instrumental version of Despacito and many other popular songs in Latin America at the moment, I was super impressed by how many songs they were able to play and how many I recognized. I’ve been listening to Reggaeton ever since I landed in Nicaragua and I can’t seem to stop… but I’m not complaining!


(Handmade dresses like these! The people here are so crafty, I can only imagine how long this must have taken.)


(One of my students, Adriana, rocking her outfit and glasses and her profe (teacher) fan-girling.)



(Gabriela and Samuel, does this need any further explanation? I think not, they are the cutest.)


(Student Maria)

It’s weird to think I’ll be celebrating Nicaragua’s Independence Day three times during my service and that I’ll be here for so long but I couldn’t be more excited. Ready for Nicaragua to become my second home; it’s already starting to feel like it 🙂

26 Days in Nicaragua So Far

Peace Corps

It was not too long ago I was day dreaming in one of my last college classes about what Nicaragua was going to feel like, what kind of weather I would experience, what kind of people I would meet. Fast forward a couple of months, I’ve graduated college and have also just landed in Managua, Nicaragua. I brought 2 massive suitcases each weighing precisely 50 pounds (the max limit) and my backpacker’s bag that I somehow managed to squeeze into the plane as a carry-on. Other than these 3 items, I brought heaps of curiosity and an open mind to take on this new adventure. Our first 3-day orientation took place in the hotel directly across the street from the airport in Managua, little did we know this was going to be the most luxurious place we’d stay in for the rest of our 2 years in Nicaragua. During this time, we all made an effort to get to know our group of 38 trainees that make up the TEFL (English) and Environment sector of Nica 70 (the 70th group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Nicaragua). I knew I had been placed somewhere special after our group one night at dinner ordered water for the table and not only did they not mind my suggestion to order without plastic straws, but rather loved the idea and encouraged it at every meal. A burden I once felt I was by being the voice of ecological reason had been lifted and for a change I felt supported and heard, it felt so right.

Over the course of the next 3 days at the orientation retreat every volunteer was bombarded with safety measures, medical handbooks and kits, cellphone chips, Spanish grammar books, Spanish dictionaries, environmental classroom guides, cultural workbooks and so much more. It was information for hours and hours every day along with language interviews and placement. We also got to meet current volunteers who have been in Nicaragua for a year now; many of them living in several different departments scattered all over Nicaragua. On the third and final day of our retreat we were all sent off to different “pueblitos” or towns in Carazo to move into the homes of families we will be sharing a home and culture with for the next 3 months of pre-service training.

Diriamba, Carazo is the department I am situated in, a fairly populated city with accessible grocery stores, restaurants and bars, the complete opposite of some other sites some Peace Corps trainees are living in. I am living with Doña Yeseñia and her two daughters, Daniela and Alejandra. This family has been totally supportive of my vegan diet and the girls remind me of my sister and I. It feels home-y. There are 4 other volunteers living here in Diriamba and attending language classes with me, Britton, Anna, Henry and Ozzy, my familia and support group. We have become pretty close, that’s kind of what happens when you bond over diarrhea and the lack of running water in your life. We watch movies, go on runs together, get cat-called together and work together and I wouldn’t have it any other way, except maybe the cat-calling we could all do without.

We are coming up on week 4 of Pre-Service Training, leaving us with 8 more weeks before our swearing in ceremony when we become official volunteers!

An Airport Story

Peace Corps

This is the day I leave for Peace Corps, nerves and adrenaline are doing their thing. Mom, Dad and I get up 4 hours early to pack any last minute items and I am already dreading the goodbye, the forceful growing up that entails my two years service abroad. My family and my friends are my bloodline, they are my stability, and ever since I found out I was invited to serve in the Peace Corps I made it my mission to value each and every person in my life a little extra and spend as much time with them as possible. My friends are almost like little pieces of gold that I have found walking through life and over time these special people make up an empowering gold necklace you wear proudly and it becomes your strength when they are far away. These goodbyes were very hard.

My family and I arrived at the airport with a little over two hours to get through security. This wasn’t an international flight; my group is meeting in Miami for orientation and then flying to Nicaragua in the next two days, so I figured two hours was plenty of time to get me through security. As I kissed my mama one last time and hugged her hard enough to last me 27 months, I proceeded to wait in line to go through screening. I take off my shoes, pull out my computer, do all the necessaries, besides pull out my reusable water bottle which I later realized was the reason for my 40-minute holdup. The TSA officer kinda scolded me and asked me if this was my first time flying. To which I answered shamefully, no. And she responded, ”you should know better!” Yes lady, I know I forgot to empty the water out of my bottle and I am off to the peace corps and stressed the fuck out so can you please just let me empty it so I can get to my gate? She said that I had the option to either throw out my stainless steel water bottle that I so proudly found at a thrift store for $3 when retail price is $40! Or that I could exit the security area and get back in line to do the whole take your shoes off process over again. I reasoned with myself that I had enough time to get back in line and make it through TSA one more time to save my precious water bottle. Well, I dump every drop of water out of my bottle, put it in my bag, I show my ticket and passport, I get back in line, I am waiting their and seeing the time pass, finally, I take off my shoes, all of my jewelery, all of this for the second time, I think, ok, I have time, I’ll make it. As I stand their shoeless looking down the rotating ramp, I see it! My bags again, it’s coming down the ramp, I’m doing a little dance with time to spare, until bam, my bag takes a left turn and goes straight into the hands of TSA. AGAIN. At this point I cry as if my bag were my child being taken straight out of my arms. This is how you start to feel when you’ve spent nearly an hour going through security. So I go back to security staff and beg them to remember my face, “ME! Remember? The idiot 21 year old who left a full water bottle in her bag? Yeah! That girl! Luckily they remembered and I pleaded, oh please help me, my bag is up for inspection again, I promise you everything is out of there, I poured out the water, my flight leaves in 20 minutes! The man says, “I’ll see what I can do.” I see him speak to one of his coworkers and points to my bag. The woman grabs it and brings it up to the front for inspection and I hear her say, “Who’s bag is this. Excuse me, who does this belong to?” I weave my way through other helpless mothers and fathers of stuffed and lifeless luggage babies and I say, “Me! Me! That’s my baby, I mean bag.” She immediately feels the bag and says in a disappointed voice, “ma’am, you forgot to take out your computer.” I hear again, “is this your first time flying?” At this point I have lost all confidence in making it two years in a foreign country when I can’t even follow basic airport instructions. To be fair, it’s a full moon if you believe in that stuff, I’m stressed out from having to say bye to basically everyone I know and I just want to make my flight.

She quickly checks the rest of the bag, says it’s good to go and I run to the gate with 15 minutes to spare. As I approach the gate I see some guy signaling to his wife I presume, and I hear him say, “Come on! We are going to miss it! I quickly check my ticket to make sure that isn’t my gate and yes of course it is. The couple, myself and several others missed the flight headed to Miami at 11:05AM. Oh fuck. This is not good, I have orientation at 5 o’clock and I missed my flight. I plead with the desk lady, “No you don’t understand, I need to make this flight, I’m off to the Peace Corps, please, I’m going to miss my orientation.” The lady (at this point I read her name tag and learned her name, Georgia) kind of gives me a second look, like oh the Peace Corps. She proceeds to tell me that she had several family members serve our country through the military. She told me how noble it is to be doing what I am doing. In my head I’m thinking well I don’t if I’ll be doing any of it now that I missed my flight. I see Georgia pick up her radio and start speaking to staff on board. She ultimately tells me it’s just too late. The tears start forming, my face starts getting hot, I start getting prepared for people to see my ugly crying face, I can’t help it. I’m on the phone with my Dad, Georgia is tip tapping on her computer seeming to be doing everything she can to get me to Miami. My dad attempts to console me but I am still in tears. Georgia says, I can get you on a 3:30pm flight to Miami. By that time I will have missed orientation, but it’s my only choice. She books the 3:30pm flight and then proceeds to tell me that there is a list of things she’ll be getting yelled at for and one more conscious mistake can’t hurt. She steps outside of the desk and says, “I don’t care if I get in trouble, I’m bringing out the big guns.” I start following right behind this fierce woman going straight up these stairs leading into this white glossy looking, corporate feeling American Airlines secret floor. She looks around and quickly tells me that she doesn’t see any familiar faces so this might not go as planned. I’m still unsure at this point as to what is going on. She tells me to put my game face on and I figure this means look like a desperate 20-something with puffy eyes who just wants to get to Peace Corps orientation. And she’s got on this, “My whole family has served in the military and I’m bringing out the big guns look.” And both of us storm straight up to this lady behind a desk. She says, “Hey there, I know that this is against American Airlines rules but long story short this young lady is going to serve in the Peace Corps and she has missed her flight. Can she stay up here until her later 3:30pm flight? Picture me standing there with the ultimate puppy face even though I have no idea what Georgia is really asking for. Either way, this lady says of course and Georgia takes me around this dazzling floor with private lounges, TV’s, a full bar, buffet style hors d’oeuvres, and the works, turns out we’re hanging out in the first class floor. She shows me this touch screen sleek black machine and tells me to treat myself to a nice cappuccino or tea while I wait for my flight. I find a seat and Georgia walks back to talk to the nice lady who let me in here and then starts walking back towards me, she hands me two white tickets and says, it’s all gonna be ok, here’s two free premium drink vouchers for the bar, you’re gonna do great, god speed, and before ya know it she’s gone.

I have a feeling it’s going to be these little things that keeps me hopeful in life. Thank you Georgia, for making a young and nervous recent college grad feel like she’s not alone.

Packing for Peace Corps (While Saving the Earth)

Lifestyle, Peace Corps

The time is fast approaching! A month countdown begins today, before I leave the USA to serve in the Peace Corps for two whole years!!(yes, I’ll be nearing age 24 by the time I get back, crazy, I know)

Where am I going you wonder? Nicaragua, where i’ll be teaching environmental education to primary school children, the dream. Packing for a two year trip requires quite a bit of planning, especially if you’re like me and plan on being as environmentally friendly as possible, which means a lot of second-hand thrift shopping and clothes swapping with friends and family.

One of my goals as an environmental educator is to promote sustainability in all forms, and this means being a conscious consumer as I purchase and pack clothing, luggage, shoes, etc.

What’s the big deal with shopping around for new things anyway? Shopping used to be a trip to the mall, ordering online, basically buying anything and everything brand new. This didn’t bother me until I read the numbers…

  1. It takes 700 gallons of water to make a cotton t-shirt.
  2. The average American throws out about 82 pounds of textile waste per year.
  3. Clothes can take up to 40 years to decompose.
  4. Shoes can take up to a 1,000 years to break down.
  5. 95% of textiles cannot be recycled.

After reading figures like these, my immediate reaction was how can I contribute less to these statistics?!

The solution may not be convenient, but it’s certainly less expensive, less pollutive and better for the earth, which is a concern for Peace Corps volunteers who care about people and the planet. Shopping second hand for most of my Peace Corps needs was a fun challenge and one I know will shape my future experiences.



  • 3 Denim Shorts
  • 1 Khaki Short
  • 1 Denim Skirt
  • 3 Long Khakis
  • 5 Pairs of Slacks
  • 2 Rayon-stretch Pants
  • 3 Dark-Denim Jeans
  • 3 Long Skirts
  • 1 Short Skirt
  • 6 Pairs of Yoga Pants
  • 2 Yoga Shorts
  • 6 Cotton T-Shirts for Bed
  • 1 Long Sleeve Spandex Shirt
  • 2 Shorts Sleeve Spandex Shirts
  • 9 Tank Tops
  • 4 Long Sleeve Tops
  • 4 Collard Shirts
  • 6 Cotton Shirts
  • 3 Blouses
  • 3 Strappy Tops
  • 4 Dresses
  • 1 Pair of Overalls
  • 1 Sweatshirt
  • 1 Rain Jacket
  • 1 Cotton Jacket
  • 1 Bandana
  • 2 Swimsuits
  • 30x Underwear (This I would not recommend buying second hand… when put in a situation like this where you must by new, I try my best to shop organic, fair-trade. My favorite brand by far is: PactOrganic)
  • 30x Socks (Same rule applies for socks, if you can try to go organic and fair trade)

Where to find second hand clothes? I found most of the above at: Goodwill, Poshmark(Online Clothing Buy/Sell), Housing Works, City Opera Thrift Shop, and from the closets of friends and family(Shout out to you guys, you rock). Local thrift stores are all over the place and many of them partner with great charities and organizations to raise money for HIV Prevention and Awareness, Train people for Careers, Fight Homelessness, support the LGBTQ Community and so much more. There are several pros to thrifting!



  • Converse
  • New Balance
  • Hiking Boots
  • Mules
  • Slip On Canvas Shoes
  • Sandals
  • Flip Flops

*Tip: When buying used shoes you can disinfect them with a natural homemade mix of things you can find in your fridge like vinegar and lemon.


(My sister thrifted and gifted this fitting little miss green T, thanks Sam)


  • Macbook /Macbook Charger(Laptop is a must)
  • Compact Converter
  • DSLR Camera (2x Lenses)
  • Power Bank/Travel Light
  • Phone/ Phone Charger
  • External Hard Drive
  • Speakers
  • Headlight + Extra Batteries
  • Extension Chord
  • Headphones (x2)
  • Flashlight
  • Flashdrive (x2)
  • Battery Powered Alarm Clock
  • Extra Batteries
  • Digital Watch/FITBIT (Great to track miles/calories without the use of gym equipment)

Personal Health/Hygiene

  • Bamboo Toothbrush/Case (x5) (I like these because they are compostable but obviously you can find these in country)
  • Toothpaste (You can purchase toothpaste or 3 simple ingredients to make your own)
  • Floss
  • Razor
  • Face Wash (You can bring your own, use African Black Soap or make your own with local ingredients)
  • Shampoo/Conditioner (You can bring your own or make your own with local ingredients, I use Baking Soda + Apple Cider Vinegar)
  • Soap/Soap Holder (African Black Soap is magic and can be used for practically all washing needs like face wash + shampoo)
  • Deodorant (You can purchase or make your own with local ingredients, I just use baking soda! Works like a charm)
  • Menstrual Cup (Zero Waste alternative to Tampons or Pads, Saves you $$$ + good for the planet, highly recommend)
  • Hair Brush
  • Hair Ties/Clippers
  • Quick Dry Towels (x2)
  • Shower Bag
  • Natural Loofa (Compostable)
  • Mirror
  • Nail Clippers/Files
  • Tweezers
  • Q-Tips
  • Natural Sunscreen
  • Essential Oils (Great for Skin Treatment, bug bites, relaxation, headaches, all around soothing)
  • Tiger Balm
  • Makeup
  • Aloe Vera (Can be used as moisturizer and for any burns!)
  • Chapstick (You can purchase or make yourself with local ingredients)

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 7.52.13 PM

100% Recycled Biodegradable Packaging, BPA Free, Phthalate Free, PVC Free, Biodegradable & Compostable

BMBU Toothbrush

Lifetime Razor, almost 100 years old belonged to my great grandpa during the 1930’s. Besides the sentimental value behind this razor, I am happy to find a razor that isn’t a plastic disposable, and even better allows you to sharpen the blade over and over again. You can actually still purchase a Rolls Razor on EBay.

100% Biodegradable floss, no waste here.

This sunscreen is non-toxic and cruelty free. Most sunscreen finds its way into ocean waters and bleaches coral, however, this brand, Raw Elements is safe for you and the planet.

Work Supplies

  • Plenty of Pens/Pencils
  • Sharpies
  • Highlighters
  • Tape
  • Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Whiteboard Markers/Regular Markers
  • Index Cards
  • Stickers

Found this stainless steel water bottle for $3 at goodwill! Brand new would be $40


  • WATER BOTTLE (32 oz. Preferably)
  • Sunglasses
  • Baseball Cap
  • Cotton Sheet set
  • Comfy Pillow
  • Umbrella
  • Reusable Canvas Bags
  • Stainless Steel Straw
  • Pocket Knife
  • Journal(s)/Books
  • Card Games
  • Light-Weight Robe
  • Belt
  • Earplugs
  • Hiking Packpack
  • Gardening Gloves/Tools (For enviro volunteers)
  • Jump Rope (Aside from running, i’m assuming it’s gonna be a challenge getting a decent workout)
  • Pictures of Family + Friends
  • Yoga Mat
  • French Press

This blog post will be a work in progress up until the day I leave; I will continue adding content as I gather more things and discover any useful tips for Peace Corps packers!

This blog represents my own thoughts and opinions. They do not directly reflect those of the U.S. Peace Corps or Nicaragua