Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Travel, Exhaustion, and Rabbits

Wrote this yesterday and was finally able to post today. Want to put up pictures but I have a meeting to go to. Sorry!
Excuse the length but have a few days of stuff to update you all about :)

Arrived in Philly around 8 am. After I got my all my baggage I had to figure out how I was going to carry it all and put it on but I was able to manage. Although I'm pretty sure the military guy that walked by was laughing at me as I struggled to put my huge pack on. Then I hailed a taxi and got to the lovely Holiday Inn in the historic district. I wasn't able to check into my hotel room so I had to waste some time until registration at noon. Once registration started it was cool to meet everyone and calmed some of my nerves a little bit. Basically during staging we did some ice breakers and learned about what was expected of us, what to expect in country, what we want to get out of PC, and why we made a commitment. After a short break we talked about everyone's fears, anxieties and threats. It was nice to hear and see that everyone in the training group has the same ones as me. It made me feel better about everything. We then ended the session with some logistics and this dot activity which made us think about thinking out-side of the box and remembering that the people in our training group are our family now. Aww pretty heart felt, but basically we should always remember that we have 57 other people who are going through the same things I am so don't forget to talk to them if you need someone to talk to. Oh by the way my group has 57 volunteers, 6 of which are married couples. Pretty cool, and no one has dropped out yet..

All my stuff for the next two years

A cool giraffe in the J-Burg Airport. Hopefully I'll see a real one :)

View from the plane :)
After staging session we were finally allowed to check into the hotel room (the hotel was very busy and kind of unorganized, but that was probably because there were numerous wedding, bachelorette parties, Philly fans, and ghost hunters from Syfy staying at the hotel). After I checked in a few of us went to John's (one of the 3 Stooges) restaurant for dinner. I didn't get a cheese steak cause the flatbread sounded better. I'll have to get one another time, but after dinner one the other girl volunteers and I went and walked over to Independence Hall (where the constitution was signed) and the liberty bell. I didn't get to take a picture but it was cool to see it. I went to bed around 11:45pm but had to be up and ready to go in the lobby at 1:45am to get on a bus. Needless to say the next couple days meant not much sleep. I did sleep on the bus a little bit. We got to JFK airport around 5:30am but couldn't check in for our flight till 7:30am but that was ok cause that meant we all had time to weigh our baggage and make sure it was within the weight restrictions. The 15 hour flight wasn't bad because there were plenty of in-flight movies and I lucked out by getting a 4 seat row to myself and only had to share it with one other person, so I was able to spread out and sleep fairly comfortably. I actually finished my first book during the long flight which is nice, maybe I can trade it with someone else. We arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa around 7:55am Monday and our next flight wasn't until 3:45pm. Therefore there was some more time to sleep :) The flight to Gaborone, Botswana was very short and everyone was very excited to get to the hotel.
My hut I stayed in at Big 5 Lodge

The hotel we are staying at is call the Big Five Lodge. Its pretty nice. We get to stay in these rooms that look like little huts. There is a pool but it is open from 10am-6pm so we won't get to use it that much. We are only going to be here until Friday and then we will go to the training village of Molepole (Moleps). Botswana people like to shorten things (Botswana-Bots, Molepole-Moleps, etc.). Everyone is very tried from the long days we have had, so pretty much everyone is taking showers, updating blogs and going to bed. Tomorrow we have to give up all our valuables (laptops, money, extra passports, etc.) to be locked up and not to be seen until June when training ends. Therefore I won't be able to be on the internet much at all after tonight unless I go to an internet café. So it was funny everyone was on their computers a little bit ago getting updates sent out and answering emails and such. Tomorrow starts some Setswana language training, malaria medications, and rabies shots! So far Botswana is very pretty and very hot, but I'm really excited to be here and its been great getting to meet all my fellow Bots-9 volunteers. I do miss everyone at home though and can't wait to hear from everyone! I get to get my new phone tomorrow so If you get a call from a weird number it is probably me. :)
My bed in my hut

The lovely pool (yes we were on the Peace Corps Resort Plan)

Trainees getting in their last bit of internet time

Oh something else funny here at the lodge are the huge rabbits that are roaming around. They look really cute and I want to pet one but they might have rabies, or it could turn into a crazy rabbit like the one on Monty Python with the Huge, Sharp Fangs, so I think I'm going to play it safe and leave them alone. Well I need a shower really bad and am pretty tired. Not sure when I will be able to update again. But I will try to keep posted as much as possible.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Goodbyes and Farewells

Last Saturday I had a going away party at my house. My parents kindly opened up my house for the day so people could come and go as they pleased. My mom made tons of food, shredded chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs, and fruit pizza were just a few of the delicious items on the menu. She was going to try to make a Botswanian (not sure if I spelled that correctly) dish but decided not to conquer that challenge. Maybe when I come home I will be able to show her how to make food from Botswana (like the mopane worm). Here's some pictures from the day:
These were cool contact cards I made for my guests so they will be able to keep in touch with me while I am gone.

Some of the delicous food!
The Cake my Mom  got me :)
The weather threatened rain but stayed pretty nice throughout the day.
People played corn hole.
My friends from Miami (Lindsay and Siesan) came to visit.

Me and my cousin Sara

David (my older brother) was able to come as well.
And so was Ben! I'm going to miss him a lot :(

So all in all the party turned out really well. Alot of my friends and family were able to come and see me before I left. This past week I've spend most of it packing and geting myself ready to leave. Yesterday I spent the day at the spa with my Mom and got to see my Grandma one last time. I still can't believe I am leaving tomorrow it doesn't seem possible. I finnally finished packing a little bit ago. I'm soo glad to be done. I spent most of Wednesday packing and got really frustrated when my one piece of luggage was waaaayyy overweight. After some reajusting and moving things around I was able to get everything packed and withing the restrictions. I'm trying to get around the one carryon by having a carryon and a huge bag purse as my "personal item". I hope it works or else I'm not going to have anything to read on the plane. That would not be a fun trip over. Now I can just kind of relax and spend time with some friends and family before I leave for the airport at 4am. The only thing I have left to do on my list is find some pictures to put in my little photo album and finish downloading movies into my external hard drive.

I'm sure you are probably curious as to what my traveling and next couple of weeks are going to look like. So heres the layout. Get on flight to Philly, PA from Columbus at 6:40am Saturday. Arrive around 8:10am. Check into hotel. Registration begins at noon with some ice breakers and turning in final paperwork. Have some lectures to sit through till 7pm. Then I am free to do whatever until 2am when we check out of the hotel and get on a bus to JFK airport. Flight to Johnasburg South Africa leaves JFK at 11:15am. Then we are on the for about 15 hours. We have a nice 8 hour layover in Johnasburg and get on another flight to Gaborone, Botswana. Will arrive in Botswana around 4:45pm Monday. Then we get bused to be in a lodge for 5 days right outside of Gaborne. There we will have a little bit of training, vaccinations and stuff like that. After the 5 days we go to our training villiage of Molepole (1 hour outside of the capital of Gaborone), where I will get to be with my host family for the next few months. So its going to be a very tiring week, but I am very excited to embark on this new adventure.

 As the time gets closer and closer to when I actually am going to leave and the more goodbyes I have to say it gets harder and harder. I am still really excited to go but I am going to miss everyone so much. I know I have a loving and supportive network of friends and family and it makes it hard to leave that here and go into a new place where I will know noone and be on my own for the most part. It's a little scary to think about and as the time apporaches I get more and more nervous and my fears are becoming reality. My Mom and I went to a Volunteer Send-off Celebration party at OSU campus last night, which helped me overcome some of my fears and reservations a little. There were a few Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV) who talked about their experiences in the Peace Corps. It was really cool to talk to them and hear some of their experiences. It got me super pumped for my journy I am about to take. One of the RPCVs had served in Botswana which was pretty cool as well. That said it still is hard to say bye to your loved ones. I will miss you all greatly.

Oh also to let you know, my internet access is going to be limited for the next few months during training. I guess the only access I will have is if I am able to go into the capital. Not sure how true that is or how often will be but I will find out once I get there. I will try to keep this updated as much as possible, and you can always write me. Letters are always a nice comfort. :) Well I probably should get some pictures printed off so I have some of my friends and family to look at when I get homesick.