I am at JFK Airport enjoying a delicious chicken quesadilla and a glass of scotch in a super trendy bar with great music called "drinks". The past two days have been the most deliriously exciting days of my life. I already feel that I have grown up so much just having taken such giant steps to get to this little airport bar. I slept for an hour on Monday night before departing for Philly on Tuesday at 7am. I spent the night packing the goods you saw below, and spending time with my amazing family (minus Laura who was back at school but there in spirit). Chris, Mom and Dad took me to the airport, and after a very very tearful set of goodbyes I boarded the plane before it took off, and didn't wake up until after we had landed in Philly. Even though I was exhausted, I couldn't help humming "flip flip flip-adelphia" to myself after we landed. To you, this may not be funny, but I am a big fan of the FX tv show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. If you haven't seen it, give it a shot. Who knows you might like it.
I love Philidelphia! Its so beautiful and you can FEEL the history seeping out of all the sights and directly into your memories of middle school social studies texts and the tv cartoon that I loved: Liberty's Kids. The things I saw look strangely familiar. From the plane, I got on a shuttle to the Holiday Inn in the historic district. Its a really nice hotel and right in the CENTER of everything. I arrived early, and I was staving so I took a walk around the hotel. I ordered a cheese steak (what else would you order here?) and walked around. As soon as I turned the corner, I saw a group tour of full grown men in matching blue oxfords being led by a woman dressed in revolutionary war period clothes. They were too far, so I couldn't hear what she was saying, but literally seconds after i got my order, a horse and carriage tour passed by me. I grabbed my sandwich and walked at such a pace so that I could casually keep up with the horse and hear what the woman was saying about the area. I followed this tour for about a block then turned the corner. I ended up at the Philly visitors center where I sat on a nice park bench and ate the rest of my sandwich . Our hotel is in a great area, blocks from the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin's grave, and a bunch of other great places, including a coffee shop called Cafe Ole. mmm coffee.
We started training at 12:30, and as is fitting with the Peace Corps, we did MORE paperwork. There are 31 volunteers in my mission class. We will all be going to Burkina. The oldest is 64, and the youngest is 21. Everyone is very very nice and cool. We spent the rest of the day talking about the mission statement of the Peace Corps, the goals of our projects, policies and procedures, and agendas for the next few days. We also did some icebreakers, (ew) and some skits and activities which were fun. My table was cool. At the end of the day we got broken into teams and had to elect team leaders, no one else seemed eager to do it, so I volunteered. After we finished with training for the day (around 6:30) Mark Myavec picked me up and took me to dinner at a place called Monks. It was SOOOO GOOD! I would highly recommend it if you are ever in Philly. I had Thai Curry mussels and a nice Belgian beer called Duvel Green. After a few errands we parted ways, but I had an amazing time, and it was so great to see his friendly face before I left.
So, I am team leader of group 1 and I am also the Document Group Leader. I have been charged with making sure everyone gets their passports and documentation, gets through security, and gets there safely. I think I have done a great job so far. People are responding well to my methods of leadership, which can be tricky when you are leading a group of leaders.
I was so excited to get my own passport! I have never had one before so I was a little to eager to show it to the TSA agent when we got to security. I was just a shade under the weight requirements. My first bag was like 38lbs and the second was 46. Good work Chris, Mo, Mom and Amy!
When we got up today, we went and got our yellow fever shots and then loaded our gear, and ourselves on the bus. After the first 10 mins of our drive, EVERYONE was passed out. We were all so tired from the lack of sleep and high levels of excitement and anxiety. The drive to NYC was uneventful but we had some nice views of the city on the way in, very picturesque. And here I sit, anxious, excited and exhausted. We will leave this airport around 6:30, land in Brussels around 8am, leave Brussles at 11am and arrive in Ouagadougou around 3:30pm. LONG fly time. People in my class are amazed that I have never traveled internationally. They were all shocked to see how excited I was to get my passport and fly over the Atlantic. I told them when I arrive in Brussels that will be the farthest I have ever been from home. This seems to be old hat to many of these volunteers, especially the returning ones. None have served in Burkina but a few have served in Africa and they said its truly amazing. I am so excited, but I am also so very tired. I am going to try and get some napping in before the flight so I can work on my French when we board the plane. I love and miss you all already and I hope you are working on writing and sending me some letters! Thanks for reading! More to come soon!