Jan 11 finally arrived! I was so nervous that I actually didn't sleep the night before. Instead, I stayed up all night repacking and trying to fit 2 yrs worth of "necessary items" into 80 lbs of checked luggage, a carry on and a personal item. Any one who knows me knows that I overpack, overanalyze, and over think things. Although these aren't terrible vices, it makes it difficult to pack with tight limitations on space. But, if I thought I needed it, i found a way to make it fit. While deciding what I needed for the next 2 years of my life, I also had to set aside things I might want in two years, which would then be placed in storage. That was a bit weird because who knows what I might want in 2 yrs- certainly not me. I did put a bunch of stuff in storage though…just in case nothing drastically changes (which I doubt).
At 5:30am, I ran around the house like a mad woman waking up my family to drive with me to the airport. We left the house about 6:15ish. Now, anyone who lives in the NY metro/ Long Island areas knows rush hour traffic WILL derail your plans and deter any dream you had of getting to your destination on time. Its sad, but true. Then you have to add in the fact that getting to and navigating any of the major NYC airports is a crazy experience enough any time of the day. The question that arises is: Why did we leave at 6:15am for an 8am flight? Answer: Who knows…and at this point who cares. I was able to get to DC, after an insane rush to check in and go through TSA, and get to staging. I think because of all the hullabaloo, this was the one farewell that didn't bring me to tears.
Peace Corps staging is essentially a one day orientation. You turn in documents, meet your group, learn a little more about the 10 peace corps core expectations, and shortly thereafter leave for your country of service. My group is pretty chill. Most of us are between 22 and 30 years old. We're about 50:50 in terms of assignment (Maternal Health or HIV/AIDS). Originally, we were supposed to leave Wednesday, morning around 6am for Nicaragua. Then airports started closing because of a blizzard that was rapidly moving up the east coast. Naturally, we all got calls Tuesday night indicated we were not leaving on Wednesday.
To pass the time the organizers let us have the day off to explore DC. I went to the Smithsonian and looked at some art and also visited the botanical gardens. I enjoyed both! On Thurs, we started spanish classes and a few other aspects of training. Thursday afternoon is also when we got the FANTASTIC news that we would be leaving 1am Friday morn/ Thursday night. YAY!
Truthfully, It did suck being in DC for 72 hours. I had no winter gear, wanted to feel sunshine instead of snowflakes, and was really confused about what the plan would be if we ever made it to Nicaragua since there had been a set itinerary for out in country orientation. Yet, there were a few unexpected benefits to this experience. I was able to ease into the idea of going to Nicaragua since we had time to settle into DC before rushing off to Nicaragua. I also like the fact that we were in limbo in a place that wasn't home. I knew I had to leave home at some point but it was a nice buffer. It was also great to bond with my fellow corps members over the experience. This is the only time in the past 14 years that a grouped has been delayed going to Nicaragua. Hopefully, it wont happen again anytime soon.