Friday, June 17, 2011

En Route

According to my netbook, it’s 10:30pm and according to the little screen in front of me, I am somewhere between North America and Europe over the Atlantic Ocean.  This first part of the trip is almost over, and it’s been a very long day.  Considering I have lived in Australia and Japan, I didn’t think a flight to Africa could take as long.  I am miserably wrong.  First of all, I stopped in L.A. on my way to Australia and on my way back, making any one leg only 12 hours.   Somehow, flying to Japan seemed less time, although I’m probably wrong.
We woke up at 6:00am this morning to get a Yellow Fever shot.  We all hopped on a bus and got to the airport.  I finally received my official business passport.  Yes, folks, I have two passports now.   One for Peace Corps and one for just me.  The bus arrived to the airport about 4 hours ahead of time.  This flight is somewhere between eight to nine hours long.   Jon and I are not together on the flight.  This is one time I regret not taking his last name, we’re seated alphabetically.  Ah, well.
I think we’re doing a great job of being individuals and trying to make friends, and finding time to celebrate this achievement we’ve made as a couple.  Everyone knows that there is only one married couple, and people are sometimes shocked it’s us.  In Tanzania, we are not allowed to display any PDA.  In addition to that, being the only married couple, we don’t want to turn people off from us by being too much of a “couple”.  So, on our first day, we sat at separate tables, we met people as individuals, and we tried to make relationships that way.   However, we did avoid the twenty person dinner so we could have dinner to ourselves.  We don’t know the next time we might have that luxury. 
There are 39 of us flying to Tanzania.  There were 41 initially accepted into our program.  Our group is very diverse.  Ages ranges from just graduating college 2 weeks ago to probably at least 75-80.  We have many ethnicities, from black to Asian to hispanic, and of course whites.   Included in this are a few people who have already done Peace Corps in other countries and have come back to serve again.  The group is from all over the USA, many people not having even a fellow statesperson.
One thing, however, that we all have in common right now are the anxieties we feel.  Nearly everyone has addressed that they’re nervous of the lack of running water and electricity, learning Swahili, getting sick from parasites, mosquitoes, or who knows what else, severe sunburn, or simply just not succeeding.  It’s a relief to be amongst people who have signed up for this journey, still have some anxieties, yet still are excited to go.
Well, I think it’s about 15 more hours to go from here.  I’ve had a few glasses of (free!) red wine.  Maybe I’ll try to get a nap in.  Love from 35,000 feet in the air!

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