Peace Corps Diary #1

February 25, 2009

Everything on this page, and this blog, is the sole opinion of me, and not that of the Peace Corps, or the US guv’ment.  It is all lies, and all people and places referred to are strictly fictitious.  I’m required to put this all here.

Dear family and friends,

Tomorrow, or more precisely in under 4 hours, my peace corps service
begins. Officially, I’ve been a PCT (peace corps trainee) since I
signed the final papers at 3pm today. However, at 2:30am we check out
of our hotel, take a bus to the airport, and at 7am fly to Miami, then
off to Teigucigalpa, Honduras. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be
landing just after noon, local time. (American central time, 2 hours
ahead of the west coast)

I have 1 request to make of you all, and that is to keep these emails
from me to you all to yourselves. We’re supposed to run all
communications past the program director once we join the peace corps,
and there’s no way in hell I’m actually going to do that. That said, I
humbly ask you all not to send these emails to anyone else, nor spread
my website address around. If you run into someone who wants to hear
about my travels, feel free to give them my email, and I’ll send them
anything I deem fit.

Moving on – I flew into DC yesterday, traveling via Chicago, where I
spent a grand total of 45 minutes, barely enough to take a leak before
hopping on another plane. The first leg of the journey east wasn’t bad;
I sat next to 2 14-year old girls from Rhode Island who told me about
boys and pop culture. I told them stories about college and high school
and generally felt old. Later on, I showed them pictures of Kyle, my
brother, and they said he was hot.

From Chicago to DC was all of 2 hours, but the ride was hellish. I sat
next to 200+ pounds of fat, anger, and smell – pretty much the most
unpleasant man I’ve met in a few days. Flying cattle class, I squeezed
up against the window and tried to sleep, but being between a wall and
a squishy place is not conducive to rest, and I only napped about 20
minutes. The rest of the flight I spent leaning on the wall, breathing
through my nose, and being pitched up and down 20 and 30′ at a shot in
such wicked turbulence. Fun times were had.

Landing was hairy: buffetted by wind, we dropped the last 15 feet to
land jarringly and fishtailed to a stop on the Tarmac. Feeling
distinctly airsick, I marched down to baggage claim, got my stuffed pig
of a duffel, and made it into a cab, collapsing into the back seat with
weariness and relief.

My cab driver, a huge fellow named Raul, talked shit about the peace
corps and about me, asking at one point “what’s a rich white boy doing
going to the third world?” Good question. Probably white guilt.  I
thought he was hilarious, and tipped him 4 bucks, saying “here’s for
manifest destiny” which sent him into histerics. Raul and I got
eachother pretty well, I think.

At the front desk, I got my room key and an Ethernet cable, then headed
up 5 floors to my room. Inside I met my roommate, R, a real class act.
He’s a fellow wandering soul, lives all over, travels, and chews
tobacco. (gives that up today) He’s going to be one of my good friends,
I can already tell. We talked for a while, but I felt like a shit
sandwich, and under the guise of taking a nap, passed out hard at 8pm
local.

Aside from a brief wakeup to call my mom and shower, I slept through
until 7am, waking with the sun. Worked out for a bit, stretched, and
generally adjusted to local time. R and I went to breakfast in the
hotel restaurant, then wandered down to the river (Potomac? I don’t
know.) to kill time. It’s bitter cold here, 35 or so, and I have no
cold weather gear aside from a jacket and gloves. R wore flip flops,
and ended up soaking his feet in the sink for a while. Bitter weather,
but Georgetown is pretty.

Around 1 R and I wander back down to the lobby, and into a hailstorm of
people and luggage and noisy nervous chatter. Easily 100 people are
milling around, looking to make friends. We find the line for Honduras
volunteers, (Equador is here too, but we don’t mix with those types)
fill out our papers, and presto, we’re in the peace corps.

1:30 to 7 we’re in a conference room, learning and ice breaking and
getting excited. It’s such a trip to be surrounded by like-minded,
smart, and motivated people – I’ve yet to meet someone I don’t like. I
play the clown a lot, making jokes, volunteering, presenting, reading
out loud. Really, I’m just trying to get noticed and it works – at 7
they give us dinner money, and I convince 16 people of our 50 to come
out to sushi.

We drink and make merry at this wonderful restaurant, sushi-ko, which
I’d recommend to anyone. I end up at a table with 3 girls, kat pee,
moneybags, and lis. We drink a lot of sake, gorge on sushi, and find
out tons in common. It’s really weird – I’ve been here 24 hours, and
I’ve made 4 fast friends. More to come, if it keeps up.

So that brings us to now – I bought some gum and probiotics and
miscellaneous goods at CVS, then came home to sit down and write this.
In 3 hours we leave.

Things I’m going to miss: Red Bull, showers, gum, pointing, English, being witty, hot water, cleanliness, you all. 

Love you all lots!

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