Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Phili and Chips
Staging is like middle school. In middle school you're stuck between elementary and high school and it can be a very awkward and confusing time. Neither this nor that. Pergatory. Staging is like that. It's not home, but it ain't Africa: It's Philadelphia. I'm writing from the hotel room where they set us up two to a room. Scott, the banjo playing Alaskan, is my roomate. We already played a bunch of banjo tunes and exhausted our supply of songs off the top of our heads. Shady Grove, Tom Dooley, the usual suspects. A guy named Jake is in the room across from us and he's from Washington, also a forestry volunteer, and Lauren, whose from a town of seven people in Montana is next to us. We all went down the street to a pub and got fish-n-chips and the waitress was from Ireland cause her accent was very noticable, so it was a kind of cultural experience. I drank four glasses of water and I swear every time the Irish waitress filled up my water glass she became more fond of me until she gave me The Eye(the good eye, that is). We all went around telling why we were doing Peace Corps and the answers ranged from "public service" to "Grad school" to "umm...". Looks like we are the only ones who are at the hotel now. The rest are coming tomorrow we guess. We heard Namibia volunteers are in the Hilton. We're in the Sheriton. Botswana must be in the Ritz...scoundrels. The plane ride and getting out of baggage claim was a learning experience: I learned that I brought heavy things. The electronics, while being presently cumbersome, will be appreciated later when I'm set up in my mud hut typing on my laptop and charging my camera by sun. I had to take out my laptop for the TSA guys at the security and the guy kept asking me questions about what else I had inside the backpack, and then I would reach into the pack and try to get out the batteries and what-nots and he would tell me "Step away sir!" like I was at the claims counter in jail. So after TSA took all my wires and batteries and opened up the solar panel bag and turned the battery on and turned the laptop on, I had to put all that stuff back in the backpack in a rush, and I still wasn't wearing my shoes at this point so I probably looked like some kind of strange shoeless electronics collector. The flight started with a little delay and there was a girl about my age sitting next to me who I think was remarkably unfriendly. I asked her where she was going and she said, "My cousin's wedding." "So," I asked, "That sounds like fun. Are you excited?" "No. We're not close." "ah ha." Then the conversation died and was never resurrected for the whole flight. Now it's 10 pm Phili time and all we have to do tomorrow is go to a meeting at 2pm in the lobby. I plan to sleep late and repack some stuff to make my day pack less like a large anvil and more like an unwieldy Christmas ham. Love you all, miss everyone, very excited for what's to come.