Saturday, September 25, 2010


After an eight-hour flight to Germany, a four-hour flight to Azerbaijan, and an hour-long bus ride to our hotel, we've finally arrived in Sumgayit, the city where our pre-service training is taking place.  We were graciously retrieved from the Baku airport last night by the smiling, reassuring Peace Corps Azerbaijan staff.  Today was Day One of our official in-country training -- learning logistics, expectations, and just a wee-bit of language lessons.  It's been a very long, but very good, day.

We're still so happy to be surrounded by such an amazing group of fellow volunteers, as well as the incredibly helpful support staff here in Azerbaijan.  Tonight we had dinner with a group of volunteers who arrived here just over a year ago.  Great conversation, and extremely reassuring thoughts from them all.  Hillary and I also found out today that we will be living together with the same host family for our ten weeks of training -- up to this point, we thought we would be enjoying a long-distance relationship, living in different homes.  Thanks, Peace Corps!

Oh also, I did have a minor meltdown trying to figure out how to iron my shirt this morning, but it quickly passed... things are much better now that I know how to say hello, thank you, and goodbye.

That's all for now... tomorrow's another full day!

Sa─čolun!  (That means adios!)

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

About to board our flight to Azerbaijan!

HELLO!  I'm writing this from Gate 4 in the Lufthansa terminal at JFK International Airport in New York.  The past few days have been a blur of house cleaning, car-selling, tearful goodbyes, and authentic Mexican food.  Yesterday we flew from Raleigh to Philadelphia for our first official Peace Corps Training Session.  As soon as we started talking to our fellow Volunteers, we could tell we were in the right place -- there's 63 of us going to Azerbaijan, and everyone here is smart, outgoing, and kind.  We had a great dinner last night, and then promptly fell asleep.  Today, we rode a bus from Philly to New York, and took a scenic tour of Brooklyn on the way.  Made it through the ticketing line, and on through security.

We've got just a few minutes till we board our plane -- first we fly into Frankfurt, Germany and then we fly to Baku, Azerbaijan.  We'll end up at our destination around 9pm Friday night.  Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to GO FOR IT!  We'll keep you updated.

Much love!!

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

And the fun continues!

Indian food for lunch, then off to pick up new glasses and contacts.  Got a quick pep-talk from the cashier at Ten Thousand Villages, who had served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo.  Later, we waited in line at the local CVS for the H1N1 vaccine, and flipped through celebrity hairstyle magazines.  (Did you know that all celebrities look exactly the same??)  When we got home, there was an incredibly kind and wonderful letter in our mailbox from the Tulsa County Bahais.

We finished our day together with the last installment of Picnic Thursday with our Durham crew.  Melissa outdid herself -- oven-baked ham, baked beans'n'ham, and bacon-wrapped asparagus.  We then rolled ourselves a few blocks over to the Nasher Museum to see Superchunk play outside on the lawn.  Dear lord, it was an amazing show.  I can now leave Durham as a happy man.

Tomorrow we work to get as much packed as we can.  Wish us luck!

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Just seven days left in the States!

The countdown is ON!

Today, I woke up early and went to the Durham DMV to renew my license. Then I bought a pair of glasses as a back-up to my back-up pair. Then I yelled at Time Warner for the internet outage that lasted all morning. I paused briefly for breakfast at Mad Hatter's. Back at home, I sold the futon to our neighbor Linda, and helped cram the mattress into the back of her Volvo stationwagon. I sold some CDs at Off Beat and made enough cash to go buy the new Superchunk album at Chaz's Bull City Records (that guy RULES). Grocery shopping at Kroger, then I attempted to clean up and pack some things in the dining room/office. Around 8pm, Tim and Kim and Lee came over for awesome ribs and farewell cake. Listened to the new Arcade Fire, and watched Louis CK clips online.

Overall, a pretty great day.

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