Hi All! I just wanted to check in now that I’m in Liberia… I wish I had time to make a more complete post, but I need to get to sleep ASAP, cause I want to get more than 7 hours of sleep tonight!
Here’s what I’ve been doing:
On Sunday, I flew to Philadelphia for staging. I arrived at 10p, and spent the night in a hotel. In the shuttle, I met another Peace Corps Trainee, but it turned out she was headed to Sierra Leon and staying at a different hotel.
On Monday, I we had our staging event. We got a bunch of general information and played a couple of “get-to-know-you” sort of games.
On Tuesday, we hopped on a bus and drove the two hours to JFK airport in New York. We got all our bags checked in, and waited 7 hours for our flight. When I boarded the plane, I got hassled by the officer because of my violin case (he said the flight was packed and the case was too big), but managed to bluster my way through, and boarded anyway with it.
The plane left close to 12:00a on Wednesday, (an hour and a half late), because someone tried to board the plane with incorrect papers and they had to eject him from the flight. This meant they had to find that person (or group’s) bags and unload all the other checked-in bags in the process.
The plane flight was 9? hours to Accra, Ghana, where we had a 2 hour layover and finally went to Monrovia, Liberia from there (another 2 hours). Then, we boarded a bus and drove another 2 hours to a compound in Kakata called “Doe Palace”, where we’re having our training. We arrived about 7p (still Wednesday) Liberian time.
If you add all the travel together from time time we left Philadelphia, I think it’s at least 24 hours. I slept maybe 3 hours in that time.
Thursday-Saturday, we’ve been training all day. Our training starts at 8a and runs usually until around 6p. (Although the let it start at 9 on Thurs). We’re getting a crash course in culture, language, safety and security so that tomorrow (Sunday) we can travel in small groups to an existing Peace Corps site in Liberia and observe the volunteers in their natural habitat. I’m headed to Buchanan, Liberia!
So now, here’s some highlights from these last six days:
My last act in Philidelphia was to buy diapers:
People thought it was unnecessary and ridiculous, but I know they’ll thank me later. The only place left to pack them was in my violin case (pictured).
(edit: A lot of people are asking why I got diapers. The reason is that a bunch of former volunteers I’ve talked to (and read blogs of) says it’s not a matter of if you get sick here, but when. I’ve heard a couple stories of PC teachers here pooping their pants while teaching, among other situations. Also, if you’re about to go to sleep and you’ve got a scrumbly in your tumbly, I figure it’s easier to put a diaper on than cleaning your bed later… And if all else fails, they’ll make great gag gifts.)
At the airport, I had a great jam sesh with my new friend Mike on banjo (the banjo is in the case behind him)
I’m so happy I have my violin (thanks guys!). We’ve got a super musical group: two banjos, at least one guitar, harmonicas… we’re going to have a talent show in a couple weeks, and it’s going to be kick-awesome.
Mike happens to have a netbook similar to mine, and has the exact same version of linux installed with the same tiling window manager that I use (xmonad). We tried to circumvent the pay-only airport wifi by buying one account, logging in on a smart phone, tethering it to a computer, and then making the computer create a hotspot for our fellow volunteers but failed in the attempt. (Tethering phones can’t forward wifi internet, apparently)
My first night in Liberia, I had a fever… and I’ve lost my voice since then. (Tomorrow I think it’ll be fully back though!) I pushed myself pretty hard in the days leading up to all the travel, so I was really asking for it. Being sick hasn’t hindered my participation though.
Here’s the view of the compound outside our dorms:
And the view inside my dorm room:
Someone bricked their iPhone trying to unlock it (phones need to be unlocked in order to be used abroad). It took me about 4 hours, but I fixed it. He was ecstatic. I’m quickly becoming the tech support for everybody here.
Lastly, I had fun helping set up a trivia night tonight. I actually chose to help because find trivia games pretty boring, but still wanted an excuse to hang out with the group. But I gave up my job helping with the announcing because my voice was shot. But at least I didn’t have to play trivia!
Anyway, it’s great here. I can’t wait to tell you more about my training…
I get back to Doe Palace from my site visit on Wednesday evening, if everything goes as planned!