Monday, September 13, 2010

My first from Vanuatu

Well, I’m back in the “city” for interviews with the Country Director, and the medical staff, so I’m taking advantage of the internet available in the Peace Corps office. I made it to Vanuatu and we’re currently living a few miles outside Port Vila for our first week of training, and have been bombarded with information. Unfortunately we’ve been learning a lot more about what could go wrong than language and culture training, but I’ve been assured we will get there. We’ve spent lots of time in health class learning about the possibility of malaria, dengue fever, worms, giant poisonous centipedes, scabies and lice, coral cuts and infections, etc. etc., and we are having a 2 hour session just on diarrhea tomorrow. . . before lunch (E, I guess you should have given me that book ☺ ) . But although my head is reeling, I am having the most amazing time.

Last night we had dinner at the Country Director’s house, and our first Kava experience! His house is beautiful and looks right out on the water, and he and his wife were so welcoming and wonderful (note to anyone who will understand this: the Country Director reminds me so much of Doug Banks! It makes me feel at home and hope later we’ll be throwing spaghetti on the ceiling ☺ ). I was, however, slightly disappointed with the Kava. Despite all the buildup, really all it did was make me kinda tired. But the strange thing about Kava is apparently it works the opposite of alcohol: instead of building up a resistance, it affects you more intensely the more you drink it. And, it takes smaller people MORE kava to feel anything. So maybe I’ll give it another try.

We will be staying in this village until Friday, and then we’ll be split up into “training villages” where we’ll spend the next six weeks. We have a huge group of 40 volunteers, but only about 10 or so will be in each village. I have a really awesome group and am looking forward to getting there. Right now we’re sleeping in tiny houses with 9 other people, living out of our bags, and I can’t wait to get my own room, unpack, and start to feel settled in. We do have the luxury of running water here, but the showers are cold (very very cold!) and this site has a generator, so we have a few hours of electricity every night (although I think there are about 2 outlets in the whole compound, so charging things can be tricky). We don’t have any information on how our training villages will be, but I’m assuming this is pretty high living as far as Vanuatu is concerned. We were issued a bucket for showers and a solar powered lantern, so I have a feeling rougher living is to come. Despite this, I am so happy here. The weather is perfect for me, and even though it’s been pouring rain today, the temperature is still around 80 degrees. The people are amazingly friendly, the water is the kind of blue they don’t even have in a Crayola box, and the natural lush beauty is breathtaking. There are lots of little critters here, but we’re told only the centipedes are poisonous, which makes it easier to appreciate the cute little geckos and brightly colored (giant!) cockroach‐type bugs.

I can’t wait to get to my village, meet my host family (I can’t wait to have a “mama” although I know she’ll be a poor substitute for my mama), and start practicing the language. We’ll be back in town around the end of the first week in October, so hopefully I’ll be able to update on all the new happenings. The only thing that could make this better is if all the people I loved were with me.

I’m off to roam the town looking for things I’ve been told I need to buy. Including a machete. Which should be interesting considering I’m afraid of my Swiss Army Knife. Can any of you imagine me hacking
my way through the jungle? Apparently that’s a likely possibility. Pray I don’t cut off a finger. Ta‐ta! (Bislama for bye)

A quick note about communication: I have a phone! It’s fairly expensive for me to call and text the United States, however, it doesn’t cost me anything to receive texts and phone calls ☺ . I’m told that Google Voice is an excellent way to call internationally and I think the rates should be pretty reasonable. Just thought you should all know that. My number is 011‐678‐5690395. I think the training village will have reception, so for the next six weeks I’ll be available, but I’ll have to wait for site assignments to give you any information after that.

Friday, September 10, 2010

We're off!

I only have a few minutes to catch up on this blog thing, but wanted to give a quick update about my time here in L.A. What an amazing group of people I am lucky enough to be setting out on this assignment with. I have only touched on getting to know them, but everyone is so great, with amazing stories and experiences. The best part about today has been all the unconditional support that comes along with being in the same boat (canoe?) together. Everyone has the same anxieties and can completely sympathize with all the thoughts racing through my head.

I have been inundated with new information and I have to admit I probably forgot it all again. Our next step is to get on the plane to New Zealand, arriving after a 13 hour flight, and then jumping the puddle really quick on a 3 hour flight to Vanuatu. Once we arrive (9:30 am local time on Sunday, Sept 12) we will immediately begin our training. No time for jet lag here! I'm not sure what the coffee situation will be, but I'm sure I'll still be running on excitement.

I will probably be without internet for at least the first three months, so snail mail will be key! I will try to update this thing as soon as possible. See you all on the other side of the equator!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Goodbye Northwest

Well, the goodbye parties are over, the tearful goodbyes are (mostly) over, and all that's left is to make sure my bags contain everything I'll need for the next two years. I am so incredibly lucky to have such amazing friends and family and such a great boyfriend to send me off in style. I wish I had appreciated it more, but seeing all the love and good wishes made me realize what an amazing group of people I know. So thank you Seattle for sending me off with beers, hotdogs, and hugs, and thank you Spokane for sending me off with a bonfire, science experiments, and sloppy kisses from the kids.
I am off to LA for a day of orientation and then will be headed for the island country of Vanuatu (technically it's an archipelago, but only Shellooe can pronounce that word correctly). I'll be on the island that contains the capital city for three months and then will be given an assignment and sent into the jungle for two more years. I have no idea what the internet/electricity situation will be but I will be trying to stay in touch and post on this blog as much as I can. I love you all so much and although two years without y'all seems very daunting, I'm sure the time will fly and I'll be back before you have a chance to miss me. Of all the things I'll miss (cocktails, Indian food, running water, paved roads, crazy people on the street trying to convert me to Budhism, 1419, Gonzaga games, Predators games, soy lattes, etc.) I hope you know you are all what I will miss the most. If you have this blog address then you have probably touched my life in a profound way and I thank you for all you have given me. But I guess I'm getting overdramatic :) I'll be back soon. I love you