Peace Corps Writers
Talking with Randy Wood and Joshua Berman (page 3)
 Talking with
Joshua Berman & Randy Wood
page 1
page 2
page 3

How did you go about writing the book, Randy? Did you do separate tasks and then get together?

I started writing the outline in the summer of ’01 and sent it to Josh. He added to it and sent it back and we were rolling. From there we worked separately until November. I was living in Managua where I was managing this $2M Army Corps of Engineers Hurricane Mitch Reconstruction program, and Josh was in New York. He came back down to Nicaragua to begin researching, and we both hit the road every chance we could to start researching and writing. After awhile we got into a constructive pattern of writing, researching, and swapping documents back and forth. Keeping track of it all was easily as hard — and as time consuming — a process as anything else was. Towards the end (crunch time) we were both holed up in Managua in the PimpTower, writing, editing, and organizing the maps and photos. It was intense and highly fun.
For our present book, Living Abroad in Nicaragua, we’re trying another approach: Josh has been working while on his year-long honeymoon in Asia and India, while I’ve been writing in my spare time while working for the Millennium Challenge in Washington DC, with an occasional trip to Nicaragua for fact finding and research. Thank God for broadband internet connections!

Anything you’d like to add, Josh?

Just that after divvying up the country on a bar-top in old Granada, we set off for our assigned regions, traveling by public transport to every corner of Nicaragua, then meeting back up in Managua to write up our field notes, edit each other’s work, and continue our collaboration on the background chapters. Then we’d repeat the process until we covered the whole country. It was highly intensive, working day and night for five straight months. We also relied heavily on our network of Peace Corps Volunteers throughout the country, which was an enormous mass of collective knowledge and contacts.

What are you doing now, Josh?

I’m in the middle of a year-long, round-the-world honeymoon with my wife, Sutay, a Colorado native, registered nurse, and RPCV (The Gambia 1996–98). As we pursue various research and volunteer projects (mostly in Pakistan, India, and Southeast Asia), I am posting scenes from our many adventures on the Tranquilo Traveler Round-the-World Weblog and also freelancing for a variety of publications, including Yoga Journal, Transitions Abroad, and Outside Traveler magazines. In addition, Randy and I are collaborating once again on a new Nicaragua guidebook for Avalon’s Moon Living Abroad series — the book is an expatriate’s guide to living in Nicaragua and will be on shelves next fall.

And Randy, you’re in the U.S.?

That’s right. I’m a program officer for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US government aid agency whose mandate is to rethink how we provide development assistance. I primarily focus on Bolivia, but I’ve done a bit of work in Mozambique and am about to move overseas again to run the overseas office of the MCC (Millennium Challenge Corporation in Benin, West Africa. That position should provide a nice 2 year warm weather break from Washington’s cold winters!
My wife Ericka is Nicaraguan. She’s currently completing her masters in Spanish-English translation at American University. We got married in 2002 and are happy homeowners in Northwest Washington, DC. We met while she was working for USAID in Managua, Nicaragua.

So you two are a real Peace Corps success stories. Happily married, writing, traveling, and writing books. Could it be any better?

Well, the advances could be more and the sales better.

God, you sound like all writers! Anything more?

Yes, our website sites. Randy’s is; Josh is at

Thank you both and when you come to New York, I’ll buy the first round of beers.

It’s a deal.

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