Staging accomplished. Officially a Peace Corps Trainee. Arriving accomplished. Officially in my new home of El Salvador. Onto the next battle that is Peace Corps training and the next 8 weeks. But one day at a time...
I took the train and arrived in D.C. around 11 am. I went to the hotel and stored my bags and walked around my favorite city until 1 pm when we had to start our Staging event. I am not going to lie when I say I walked around D.C. I mean to say I found Whole Foods up the street and had some seriously delicious lunch. Anyway the beginning of staging consisted on filing out and finalizing paperwork, getting our passports back and our new govt ones (yay!), and getting a credit card (which we later all took out our $120 stipend to cover potential costs). We then had the common ice breaker game of finding out facts about people and writing down their name. Then we covered the core expectations, our commitment to service, our anxieties, aspirations, and potential threats. I would say the best part of it was that our regional director Carlos Torres was there and a bunch of RPCV's from El Salvador, Bolivia, etc. They were really passionate about our future home, the people, and the in country staff dedicated to making us feel as comfortable as possible in Salvador.
Following the formal event we all went out to dinner. Our group split up a bit and my group went out for Thai food. BEST DECISION EVER. So delicious, spicy, and an epic choice for a "last"meal. After that it was pretty much heading back to the hotel, chatting with my room mate, repacking a little, and getting four hours of sleep.
Yes four hours of sleep because we had to leave the hotel at 3 am to be at Reagan before the check in even opened. But it was good because we beat the crowds and we had a lot of luggage for them to process. A lot of luggage. Speaking of which, I was underweight, which I consider amazing, even though my hands are sore from carrying it all. Flight from DC to Miami- easy, simple, and quick. 2.5 hour layover. Big airport. Lots of walking around on my part.
Miami to El Salvador delayed because a luggage cart hit our plane and they tried to assess the damage and in the end decided we had to switch planes. That took forever. But it was a good flight. I sat next to a Salvadoran-American girl who was going to visit her family for a week. Highlights of the conversation include that she thinks I am crazy, that I look "so young", and I ll never want to leave. I'll take all three.
We arrived and were immediately greeted by our Country Director and a bunch of PC staff (some volunteers who have even extended to their third and fourth year which is an awesome sign). I have to just say here how amazing they have been thus far. So energetic. So helpful. And ready to assist in any way possible. Plus they made it so easy to get everyone and everything together for us on arrival. I should also point out that my fellow trainees are awesome too. Small group of 15 people more heavily girls, one married couple, and a lot of humor, diversity, and experiences to go around. I like it.
After making our way through customs though the special "diplomat line", :) We then drove in a neon green bus to San Vicente and went to the training center to get a brief introduction on health and a welcome address. Things got pushed back because of the delay so this was very short and we went to dinner almost immediately.
*Okay I have to interrupt this post mid way because I literally jumped out of my bed to go outside because there is literally a monsoon going on. It is raining so hard. This video is dark...but I hope you can hear it. It is kind of awesome. I am sure it is not so awesome a lot of the time too, but right now I can appreciate it because it is new and refreshing.
Anyways, dinner was great. It was pork mixed with beans and rice (yes I ate it and thought it was really good- I did have some of the boys finish my portion though- baby steps for this "recovering vegetarian"). It came with avocado, pico de gallo, bread, a juice that tastes like Tang, and watermelon for dessert. Successful first meal thus far.
Okay I am in a really nice hotel with free wifi, nice showers, and A/C. It will be yanked away from me on Friday, so I am trying to enjoy it. I am not sure how much posting I will do throughout training. We have a lot of ground to cover and the schedule is very controlled. We start tomorrow with vaccines, health discussions, language placement, and everything else under the sun.
I seriously need to sleep. We have a 6:45 wake up call. Sweet.