Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cathy here. I have to say that this past week has been very strange for me. I’m usually thinking ahead, planning, setting objectives, anticipating what’s coming up, yadayada. Not that I don’t enjoy the moment, but I usually have a clear view to the future – near and far. Something about this week is just so surreal, that I’m moving through each day and just taking it as it comes, not thinking beyond the now, and not feeling quite engaged either. I’m assuming that sometime soon I’ll come back down from this semi-astral travel state. In the meantime, I still feel competent to recount events, but not interpret what anything means.

Some of these events probably don’t need tons of details, but I’ll include a little here just to round out the big picture. Tuesday was a tough day to start and a great day at the end. Jeff and Stephanie took us to the airport, went with us as far as the security check-in. Stephanie is such a world traveler; she gave us her learned opinion of which scanner to go through (NOT the new kind). It was just too hard to say goodbye!

Uneventful flight to Dallas (always good) and check-in at the hotel. We had plans to get together with my nephew David (who lives in San Marcos, TX), and his girlfriend, Karen. It’s about a 4-hour drive up to Dallas from there, but they got held up with a snafu along the way, so it was after 8:00 before we saw them. FABULOUS dinner at the Blue Goose Mexican Restaurant. Potent margaritas! David is so fun and funny, and we loved hearing about his recent work at the SXSW (South by Southwest) Conference. Ten days of music and technology – he was in heaven! We loved Karen, too. Such an “agreeable” girl, as Jane Austen would write.

Wednesday marked our first official day as Peace Corps Volunteer Trainees. The staging meeting didn’t begin till after lunch, since most people were flying in that morning. The purpose of the meeting was to review the basics of the Peace Corps mission, what is expected of us (labeled Core Expectations), explore anxieties and aspirations, and to review the logistics of Today, March 24, the day we fly to Belize!

I must say that it was a first-class meeting. There was variety, lots of interaction, fun group activities, and very effective reviews of the topics. It was like many corporate meetings I’ve attended, but lots more fun. The only non-excellent aspect of the meeting – NO snacks and only water to drink. And they ran out of water!

All that staging paid off. The exit from the hotel to the bus to the airport went very smoothly. There were long waits as everyone checked in. But there’s something calming about knowing that you can’t go anywhere until the last person in your group is through. We still had tons of time until our plane took off, so Steve and I walked (with backpacks) for more than an hour and a half through the huge DFW airport complex. Word of advice – DON’T try to do power walking in Concourse A!

This bunch of 38 people is quite remarkable, as you might imagine – Surprise! There are FOUR married couples – and very diverse in ethnicity and age. Haven’t figured out the other diversities yet, but there probably are some ;-)  Majority female, but haven’t made an actual count. We joked about creating a survey asking pertinent questions (Do you smoke? How many days a week do you floss? What’s your astrological sign?) and building a database to draw generalizations about our group.
So I’ll stop for now. We’re on the plane, will land in a couple of hours. It’s time to fill out the immigration and customs forms, read my book, and maybe nap a little?

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