Friday, February 25, 2011

Can't Stop This Train - Don't Want To

Hi, this is Steve here.  Cathy's usually our scribe, but I enjoy writing, too.

The excitement continues to build. I am afraid we may not be able to sleep for the last few nights before we finally set foot on tropical soil. Yesterday we made our travel reservations to get to our staging event. We get frequent emails with additional details. It is comforting for our families here to know how detailed the program is with respect to  care of the volunteers by the Peace Corps. In some ways it is a little restrictive.

We got the information on our luggage allowance. We certainly want to bring the right clothes but not too much clothing or forget something necessary. In our first six months I am certain that we will have a list of what we wished we had or had not brought. For our “maybe list”, the plan is to box those items to be shipped later if they are needed.

We have plans to see all of our first-degree relatives on both sides of the family prior to departure. Also our local friends have been gracious with dinner get-togethers, but I am not sure we are very good company since all we talk about is the deployment.

Our sparsely furnished apartment gets more empty every week as we walk around and designate things to give away and things to put in the storage locker. Initially I thought we would never get everything in it, but now it looks promising since the “everything” seems to be diminishing. Our last night may be in a hotel bed rather than on the floor of our apartment, although the latter might be good training for what lies ahead.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Countdown - 34, 33, 32!

In 32 days, March 22nd we will leave Chapel Hill to fly to Dallas. In 33 days we'll have our Peace Corps staging (pre-departure orientation) meeting, about a half-day of meeting the other volunteers headed for Belize and preparation for our project. In just 34 days, we fly out at the crack of dawn to Belize!
We have received several letters and emails from Belize PC management, just chock full of information. Here's what we know:

  • Our training class consists of 17 Business and Organizational Strengthening (“BusOrg”) trainees, 11 Healthy Environments trainees (that's us), and 10 Education trainees. 
  • We'll spend one week in Belmopan, the capital, meeting with Programming and Training Staff and with the Medical, Safety, and Administrative Staff as well.
  • Ha! We'll be learning either Kriol or Spanish - so maybe I should have stuck with the Spanish study ...
  • After one week, we head with our Healthy Environments counterparts to the Community-Based Training (CBT), and we won't know where that is till the day before or so. The furthest distance we'll be from Belmopan is 1.5 hours (by bus), so worst case scenario, we'll have to travel that far to get to the Internet. I'm thinking it's likely we'll have local access.
  • We'll move in with our host families (don't know if Steve and I will be with the same family - probably not). We can take only one suitcase and a backpack. Other luggage will stay at the PC office in Belmopan.  OK - FIRST hardship.  
  • CBT lasts two months and we will learn language, culture, project content (they call it project technical training) and interact like crazy with the local people, especially our host families. Once a week we head back for one day in Belmopan for safety and health, volunteer policy, stuff that affects all of us.
  • After CBT, assuming we "pass," we'll be sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers and receive our assignments.
  • We move to the location of the assignment and move in with a NEW host family (now here I really gotta hope that Steve and I get to share!) with whom we will stay for 2 more months.
That's what we know so far from their letters, as far as the sequence of things goes. I believe that they keep a lot of information back, especially location-type info, for safety reasons.  

Actually the letters have given us very detailed information on many topics, but I'm just listing these few things.  I'm trying to think of what questions I've had while going through this process.  I figure it might help someone else who's interested.

We have also received information for mail, telephone, and other communication opportunities which I will share with family and friends through email.  

Suffice it to say, we are shifting gears and ramping up for the big exodus. Steve is really busy making those lists and carrying out the to-dos on the lists. Once in awhile he hands me something to do, but he's been great about thinking through all the what-ifs and scenarios so we don't forget something - well, so we don't forget too much.  


Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day.  Since we're planning to leave our wedding rings in storage while we're gone, we knew that we wanted to get new inexpensive rings so we still look married!  We thought that today would be a good day to make the purchase.
Two old geezers with new rings

These are silver.  Maybe once we're in Belize, we'll get rings like the Belizeans wear or some that are handmade by a Belizean.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

No flies (or mosquitoes) on me!

We carried most of the clothes that we intend to wear in Belize over to Greensboro yesterday, gave them to a friend from high school, Pell.  Pell is arranging with his friend, Richard, to have them treated with "permanent" insect repellent.  Richard's business has clients like LL Bean, Orvis, etc., and he's fitting in our lot of clothing between runs for those big customers.

Permethrin (for all you chemistry nerds out there)
The product used is Permethrin -, and you can buy it to spray on your clothing from WalMart and other places.  Treated that way it will last only a little while.

Richard invented a way to heat set the Permethrin into the fabric permanently (sorta - lasts maybe 70 washings or so).  Check out his website, link above, and consider buying products treated with Insect Shield.  It's good stuff!

We are SO grateful!  Thank you, Pell and Richard :--)