It was tough to say goodbye to our wonderful Masazir host family, but after a two-hour drive north we are now settling into Quba life as Peace Corps Volunteers. It’s a much slower pace than we’ve been used to during training and we are loving it! Our host family has been very gracious with our weak Azeri language skills, and they seem to enjoy our company as much as we enjoy theirs. We have 2 host brothers who are simply hilarious! One (17yrs old) absolutely loves Michael Jackson, and the other (13yrs old) loves to smile and try saying things in English while making funny faces. This combo keeps us laughing and learning!
We have had a very warm welcome from the community that Joey and I will be working with. Basically, we’ve eaten a lot of food and had a lot of tea within the first 48 hours of our stay. We’ve had personal tours of the town by my counterpart Ayjamal, who enhanced our learning by speaking super slow Azeri and using lots of gestures. She’s an amazing woman who’s already introduced us to some high-level education ministers from the region, gotten us from place to place, and has cooked up a mean Azeri meal!
Highlights so far:
· Guba sits at the base of the Shahdag mountain range, and the mountains are directly behind our house. WOW! It makes us feel like we’re in a North Carolina mountain town, especially walking along on the main road.
· Sunday we crossed the river into the “Red Settlement,” which is the Jewish village, but the clouds settled in so much that afternoon that we could really only see one row of houses. We’ll be back since we’ve heard there is some pretty amazing scenery and homes.
· Yesterday was basically an “eat sweets day.” The ten (!) English teachers at Joey’s school had a special party just for us, and we were able to chat with these amazing teachers and the Director of the school. There were homemade cookies and an incredible chocolate and banana crème cake made just for the occasion. It was a wonderful afternoon – since I’ll be working with youth, this is a great network for me to establish.
· We eat honey every morning because our host dad is a beekeeper. I hope to learn a little of his trade this summer!
· At night, the stars look like a big pillow falling out of the sky. This makes those evening trips to the bathroom a little bearable.
· Yes, it’s cold but the air is clean, the people are kind and we’ve got our own gas stove heater in our room. Life is good and very quiet.