Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I made it to Philadelphia in one piece :D I'm sitting here in my hotel, going through all of my things once more trying to ditch things. My bags were a couple pounds overweight somehow, but more importantly they were a pain in the ass to drag around the airport. Through the magic of technology, Chelsea and I discussed, while she was on a plane that a) we both feel we have too much, and 2) toiletries are probably the heaviest/easiest to replace. I'm meditating on that while I sift. I swear the Bradt Guide to Uganda was printed on like 500 sheets of 32lb paper. It's a brick.

(7 Hours later) I ended up sorting about 4-5 lbs worth of stuff (that's an estimate) out of my bag and hope to find a post office to flat rate it back to my mom.

(and 24 hours after that) I mailed the box back to my mom... it had in it: a three ring binder, my entire medical packet (not sure why I thought I'd need this in country, I guess I was just trying to be thorough) a flat hole punch, a box of paperclips (I'm going to miss these, I'm OCD about my paperclips), four dvds I hadn't burned yet but did last night, two cds that I hadn't burned yet, but did last night, eyelash curler and some makeup because *cough* some people gave me shit about bringing makeup to Africa, an extra journal, spiral notebook, and I think that's it. Six pounds of stuff. Thankfully, most people here feel they brought too much, but oddly enough, no one can figure out exactly what they brought too much of. I'm sure once I am there a month it'll all make sense and I would know what to pack if I did it all over.

I had a little tiny "oh shit" moment this morning and felt a little sick to my stomach, like I have on and off for the last week. I talked to a couple other people about it though and they said the same thing, so I think I'm normal. It pretty much disappeared when we started the staging orientation stuff and I felt more excited again. I just thought about how the woman who's running the event was in Peace Corps two years ago, and now she's back and her life is ok and she has a job and is like "oh yea, I did that". Transitions are scary no matter what.

We did some skits, a couple icebreakers, at lunch at a pretty famous Philadelphia place (Reading Terminal.... Nora, Emmy, Amanda, and Greeley think Faneuil Hall but giant and more nitty gritty), and walked to the clinic to get our first round of shots (yellow fever). We had a little bit more meeting after shots, and talked about the logistics of travel tomorrow. There are 44 of us, broken into 4 groups of 11, and I'm a group leader. I will be in charge of collecting money from my fellow trainees, collecting passports and plane tickets from the staging coordinator, distributing said passports and tickets to all the trainees, doing a headcount whenever we go anywhere, facilitating the queue (love that word) at the airport, arriving at the gate early to make sure everyone is accounted for, and other such nonsense that should be easy since we're all adults but somehow seems daunting.

It's now almost nine on Wednesday night (this post took me a full 31 hours to finish, and it's still a mess) and we check out of the hotel at 2 am. We take a bus to JFK and fly out at 10:40 tomorrow morning, getting into Johannesburg, South Africa at 9 am (1 am est). We depart Joburg at 2pm, and get in to Entebbe, Uganda at 7:05 pm (which will be 11:05 am est). 24 hours of flying plus 8 hours worth of time changes plus we have to look nice getting off the plane in Entebbe. I am pretty sure that if I hadn't had this staging experience with everyone else going with me I would be a lot more of a mess than I currently am.


Jen said...

Yay for staging friends! :)

PS - I lived in Philly for a few months and I love love love Reading Terminal!

You may not get this for a while but I'll be reading!

Oh yeah I'm medically cleared now! :)

RENEE! said...

don't feel bad about makeup- all the volunteers from Malawi that I've heard of have said to bring some to make yourself feel pretty everyone now and then. Good luck!!

Cory said...

Before I loved reading your updates because we were in the same boat of hoping and wishing (RAS), now I love it because you are about 2 months ahead of my departure so I can see what I have to look forward to! Good luck with you settling in!!

Amy said...

Tell your mother to hold on to that makeup and send it to you. Trust me, a couple of months out in the bush and you all go out for an evening and want to look nice, everyone will be your best friend when you have makeup and look normal. Trust me, I KNOW!! =) Everyone right now is just in a pissing match and trying to look tough. =) MIss you! Enjoy your new host family!!!