Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Flights 1 & 2

23 Juin 2010

I have never been overseas. ever. I have wanted to since I was a freshman in college: and more than likely, before then. Yet, that goal of mine has never been fulfilled.

So I'll run everyone through the flight itenerary:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010
1:30pm: Bus ride from Philly to JFK
5:35pm: Arrive at JFK - terrible traffic in NY
9:45pm: Depart for Paris, Charles de Gaulle

7 hours & 20 minutes later, not including the delay
That's 5:30am CST && 11:05am Paris time

This was the worst flight of my life. Not that it was overnight, or that the accommodations were not up to my standards - because they went beyond my standards. It was because I felt sick the entire flight. My stomach was hurting and I had gas pockets exploding and attacking my organs (if you don't know by now, I exaggerate always). So because of the sick feeling - I was unable to sleep except for maybe 20 minutes. Needless to say, I was on edge when the half way point came around. But I made it through, but not without a bout of nauseousness, and watched two movies: Brothers & Where the Wild Things Are.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010
11:05am: Arrive in Paris
Layover in Paris, Charles de Gaulle: ie. Pass OUT at the terminal
4:10pm: Depart for Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

5 hours & 30 minutes later
That's 2:40pm CST && 7:40pm Burkina Faso time

This flight was 78.43% better than the flight from NY to Paris because of the following reasons: I slept on the floor of the terminal. I was rehydrated. I was in a GREAT mood because I took out my camera and was taking pictures of the group & the terminal. And I was really flying to Africa!! I got on and instead of being in a seat next to another PCT I was next to a stranger; no worries, I asked how he was - he said good - and I immediately knew he was French. So I sit down and we chat for a while. It was funny because his English wasn't the best, but my French was entirely way too dusty for my to use it...we struggled making conversation, but were having fun with it anyway: using dictionaries, phrase books and having the other speak for them. He has been going to Burkina since 2005 (I think) and is dating a Burkinabe. I believe he is either working or studying...but he is documenting the economic situation in villages (I think). Anyway - I ended up passing out after dinner, which was pretty dang good! We exchanged email & he told me I should visit Koudougou, the village or town he lives in. We'll see.

7:45pm: Arrive in Ouagadougou!
Once we arrived in Ouaga (standard shortening of the word), we hoped on a bus to the terminal. As soon as we stepped off the plane we were hit by a wall of heavy humidity and heat. It's a lot like Houston during the summer - but a little worse. And the smell is pretty musky. It's pretty unbelievable that we're all here. We were then greeted by Burkina Faso's Country Director, Shannon!! She's really friendly & enthusiastic, I love it. We also met Jeff who is the go-to guy for out money $$$! Ha. $240 a month!! (unless it changed). Next came baggage & then the most magical bus ride to the Dragon Hotel. The bus had air-conditioning, but was the equivalent of a clown's car with the amount of people we had crowding into the bus. There was food waiting for us when we arrived at the hotel - well, we had cookies, apples, bananas and chips called Spuds...maybe Spunks: Knock-off of Pringles. And we had HUGE bottles of water. Learned about the different Peace Corps employees here & were said to get a good night's sleep due to the jet-lag and the amount of work tomorrow.

Me and Ashley were paired up again at this hotel, which was nice! We have a/c, internet, running water AND a television! Oh - and we had a visiter. His name was Fred and he was our gecko. Alas, we couldn't find Fred this morning. :[

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hello Philadelphia!

So packing was terrible for the past few days: lugging them around was a test of my patience. They are heavy - as you all know from my last entry - and they are not fun to drag behind me. BUT, I have decided that it would be foolish to try to take things out, and run around trying to find a post office to mail everything back home to my parents. I'll just pay the extra amount to bring them all with me.

I AM IN PHILADELPHIA!! I've met so many different walks of life here - people from the east coast all the way stretched across the west coast. Those from South America to all the way up to Canada! Young and old. It's all pretty exciting, and everyone is very nice & so diverse. And everyone is beyond excited.

We went through the basic orientation: who we (PC) are, what to expect, etc. And I learned quite a bit - but most of the information was general. We were informed we'd get more detailed information when we arrive in country. I'm excited to start training.

Anyway - we ended finishing right around 7:00pm so we gathered a group to go out for sushi. Long story short - we ended up walking 1,000 blocks to find the place to eat - it ended up being BYOB - so we all wanted either wine or beer. Me and two other PCTs, Nick and Nate, walked another 1,000 blocks to find the wine shop (due to some weird law, beer & liquor aren't sold in the same place) and because it was so far away - we skipped the beer. Walked back to Fat Salmon and found out the most amazing news ever: they hadn't been served their sushi yet!! We had assumed they had already indulged in their meal and was just waiting for us to get back. After dinner Sara and I were quite interested in the pool and spa & got bad news about how it closed at 10:00pm... and it was 10:07pm. Boo. It was off to bed from there.

Ended up trying to organize my carry-on, watched Dirty Dancing with my roomie, Ashley and chatted on Skype with Chris (which was really frickin neat-o), and am off to bed.

Gotta get up at 5:30am tomorrow to get ready for the day - vaccinations at 7:15am. Whoo-hooo

I'll fill everyone in tomorrow.
much love.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You

Leaving tomorrow morning: Flight departs at 6:09 AM from Bush Intercontinental.

Packing is a bitch. Actually - I'll take that back; lifting the bags you've packed for the next two years is a bitch. I had no idea these things I've chosen to travel with me would weigh so much. I weighed one bag: 48.6 pounds. The other (a larger bag): 67.3 pounds. My carry-on: 21 pounds. That's an accumulative weight of 136.9 pounds!! That's me plus a two year old - or a really really fat cat. Or I could say I'm dragging a young, slender teenager; pushing a hefty tween and carrying an average size toddler.

I've got to quit you

I didn't think I would be a mother of three at the age of 21. Nor did I think I would take my illegitimate children with me on a two year service with the Peace Corps.

Leave you when the summer comes a-rollin'.
I ain't joking woman, I've got to ramble.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day: Where's Dad?

I'm leaving in a little over 48 hours. This is actually more difficult than I had thought. I've spent this week with my mom, which has been wonderful - we had one HUGE fight: which we both blamed on the ridiculous amount of stress - and the rest of the week has been great. We've been running around town, tying together all the loose ends and making sure I have everything I need before I leave & before the weekend comes sneaking around. This entire week - it's really just been my mom and me.

This would be fine if that's all there was, mom as a single parent - or if dad wasn't around ever...but his job is starting to change, and so he's gone more often and for longer periods.
This. I. Don't. Like.
I would definitely say I'm my mother's clone, but I'm a Daddy's girl: well, besides the small period when he was literally a raging bear that hasn't eaten in three months and is hungry for blood - which defines his period of transition from a smoker to a non-smoker. But I want Dad to be around. I want him to be involved with what I'm doing. I want his approval. I realize this when he comes home and I immediately turn into a 9 year old girl & yell DAD!! And anytime I want him to listen, or pay attention I say (quite loudly) DAD yadda yadda blah blah dah yadda. I don't know why, I just adore the man and wish he had a different job. He deserves so much better. And I just wish I could have spent more time with him while I was home.

What makes it worse is that my mom gets so angry at him. She projects her sadness & frustration on him - like it's his fault. And she knows it's not. She understands the in's and out's of his job, but can't accept it. Or has accepted it for too long and is now bitter. She's angry that his job makes me sad. And it does - I am really sad that I couldn't see him more than three times this week - and may not see him when I depart from Houston. He gave me a hug *just in case* and I literally almost started crying - and I'm on the verge of tears writing about it - when I was hugging him back. He just told me how proud he was of me and how I need to be careful - and of course - he started cracking jokes so I wouldn't cry. I love that man so much and just wish he wouldn't have to worry about money so much.

C'est la vie.

On another note: I know I look young - but I ran around town today to get an H1N1 vaccination which is mandatory for staging (that's a completely other story & a long one at that) : and was asked if I had a complete shot record with me since I was at a new clinic. I told them no, and that I just wanted the vaccination and would probably never be back due to the fact that it was almost in Houston and we live in Huffman. They said that was okay - and asked me to sit in the waiting area. I proceeded to look around and came upon a sign that said sometime along the lines of: Anyone under the age of 18 must have a current & complete shot record each time they visited the clinic. WHAT? I look like I'm under 18. Great.

Well - my mom and I drive through Joe's Drive-Thru (a gas station, but a drive through) and asked for a pack of Marlborough Reds box (for my mom, of course) and the lady looked at me...and said - can I see your ID. My mom chimed in and said they were for her. I was appalled!! WHAT?! Still, I look under 18?! Absurd.

True - I'll appreciate it when I'm 30-something, but now, it's just a wee bit annoying.

pish posh.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What a Blur

This has been quite a journey. From the first thought of applying for the Peace Corps, to the process of applying, the stress of gaining much needed experience, to the anxious feeling of having to wait, the unbelievable feeling of relief when all was done, and all I had to do was wait, the overwhelming excitement after being accepted & invited, to the realization that I'll be leaving in less than a week. What a journey.

It's funny, but when I'm home packing for my two year rendevouz, I'm not anxious, nor am I worried about leaving. It almost feels like I'm not leaving. & Hopefully my body isn't trying to trick me into thinking I'll just be gone for a little while. These days, months, years have all passed so quickly. It's been a very detailed blur. I have gone in and out of stress - in and out of the excitement, the terror, the anxiety, the joy, and most of all the sadness. I am fully out of that. I am not fearful, I am not sad, I am not anxious. I am excited - in a much milder tone. I am calm. I like it this way. I don't feel like it's forced. I feel as if this is how I should be. I know there will be times when I will write in my journal, or say to myself: what have I gotten myself into...but I know what I've bargained for, and this is exactly what I want (at least this is what I think).

I can't wait to meet all the other PCTs who are going to be in Philadelphia on the 21st. I'm excited to learn where they are from, and how they decided on what they are about to embark on. I'm excited to meet the community in which I'll be living. I'm overwhelmed with excitement and nervousness about the language barrier - but I truly believe my French will pick right back up again - and I'll be able to learn both French and the local language quickly. Ha. I BETTER. I will live, breathe, speak, eat & sleep those languages. Hopefully I'll even post some entries in either the local language or French (I'm actually really excited about that).

Well - it truly has been a blur of friends, relationships, family, locations, education & life experiences. I'm so privileged to have been with such good company, and so many positively influential people in the past three years: these people, and things I have learned have molded me into the person I am right now - regardless of whether the change was minute or drastic. I am so thankful for all the support I have. I just wanted to say thank you.

Friday, June 11, 2010

11 Boxes

Packing. Oh, packing: how I hate you. I do not enjoy packing, I do not enjoy putting my life in boxes after working all day. I do not enjoy your cousin cleaning, either. All I want is to be like [I Dream of Jeannie] and be able to nod and have everything put away & my place spotless.

I should be packing now.

9 1/2 boxes down.
1 1/2 to go.

then comes the cleaning.

This will be a long night.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Life is Too Fast

Life is quite the trickster.
She doesn't care what you've planned.
She doesn't take into consideration what emotions you may have.

Life, she is not one to sympathize. She just deals you the cards, and expects you to sort them out accordingly. These cards are subject to change, delay, distortion and minimize or exceed one's care to deal with. Yet - they are there, and you must pick them up. You have to always keep in mind that Life is not here to give you an easy path. She wants you to learn. She wants you to hurt. She knows that without the hurt, there is no growth.

And this is what she has given my parents today: a bittersweet occurrence. She has laid out a new opportunity for them, in particularly my mom. They were overjoyed and wanted to celebrate. Life then decided to take away that joy. She twisted and turned the world - and into the cool water fell our dog. He fell into his death. Into a vast ocean of terror. What fright he must've felt as he struggled to paddle his way out of the harsh and unforgiving mass. With no one there but his sister. She panting there, whining with no opposable thumbs. No arms to hold him. To scoop him out of the cold grip. Just short minutes and he must've submitted to Life's twin brother. And into the liquid cage dove my father, to save his dog, save that life, his breath, was not there.

Questions stir through all of our heads. They come and go. They are quick, and yet they linger.

Life, she is cruel. She is short. She is fast. She is thoughtful - and unforgiving. Death comes quickly, and it's time that I come to terms with this. It's cruel, but it is there. It is beautiful and ugly. It is all the same, and yet, so vast a diverse.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Heavy Lids

This has become a habit. I am staying up late, and still waking up early. My bed is always calling, but I seem to ignore it. I wait until wee hours of the morning to creep into bed - yet, still I lay. I do not fall asleep right away. I think. think. think.

I can't pin-point what I'm thinking about. Mostly, I suppose, about the life I'll live in Africa. I'm also getting homesick which is very odd. I don't know if I've ever been homesick since I was little. And when I say little - I mean since I was living in Kingwood :: that's before 3rd grade! I'm also thinking about packing - yet, I haven't been able to bring myself to start loading up my possessions...really, my life. I think that's what's holding me back - I don't want to pack my life I know into boxes just yet.

Time is passing, and I'm refusing to acknowledge the fact. I am not second-guessing my decision, I just didn't think it would come this quickly.

My eyelids are heavy.
Yet my heart is still fluttering with excitement.
and terror.