I wrote this post at about ten o'clock Moldova time on Wednesday but didnt have internet to post it.
The staging experience is nothing compared to what awaited me after we left the Philly on a bus for JFK. I was up by 7:44 and by my calculations have yet to sleep more than 2 hours which would mean Ive been up for about 30 hours.
The bus ride was rather uneventful and we were all surprised by the lack of traffic anywhere near New York. We got to the airport a little earlier than planned, had a moderately smooth wait at check in and a speedy security check. Because we did not encounter many obstacles on our way to the terminal we were basically free for about 4 hours to just sit around and/or visit the nearby shops. Shops in an airport…in New York City? Crazy expensive right? Actually not really. I was very surprised by the prices and even though they weren't cheap it didn't cost an arm and a leg to buy a lunch and a couple souvenirs.
Four hours stuck at an airport is not the most exciting way to spend the day but we were kept entertained by all the hustle and bustle going on near the terminal for a flight to Paris. Of course this being the only thing near entertainment most of us found our way over to find out what all the commotion was. From my untrained eye it appeared as if there was a squad of secret service looking guys surrounding an entourage of well dressed men and women. It didn't take long for the rumor mill to begin production and I was soon in the know that one of the men was the president of some African nation...though no one seemed to know which one. I took a chance and was able to get close enough to see the flag button on the man's lapel and after consulting Wikipedia it appears to be the Central African Republic.
The free time we spent in the airport did little to prepare us for the 8 hour flight to Germany. However, I was able to entertain myself by speaking in German to the Flight Attendants. I had been excited about the possibility of trying out my Deutsch before the flight and when the flight attendant automatically spoke to me in German and the others around me in English I couldn't resist. I think I was rather convincing as they never tried to switch to English when they spoke to me but there was a close call when I ordered coffee and she asked, or I assumed she asked, if I wanted cream and sugar, when I replied "nein" she looked at me funny and gave me the cream and sugar anyway. I was later thankful because the coffee was absolutely horrid and would've been nearly undrinkable without the cream and sugar.
I thought it was an appropriate experience to start my journey to Moldova as it required me to take my very limited knowledge of a language and use it in combination to deciphering context clues and body language to reply appropriately.
When we finally did make it to Germany we were ten minutes early some how or another, though by the time we made it across the airport and through another round of security we made it just in time to board. Boarding was in itself a fun experience because we went through the gate and it lead to a bus instead of a plane and the bus took us out to a smaller-than-I-am-used-to plane and we entered through stairs on the tarmac. Once we were on the plane the flight attendants immediately started to complain about our amount of baggage and in the end the pilot ended up deciding to leave some of our checked baggage in Germany, about three people from our group had the pleasure of one of their checked baggage not making it to Moldova with them...luckily not my bags.
When we did arrive in Chisinau I was very surprised by how nice the airport was and by the very well put together Moldovans in the airport. Mostly head-to-toe Prada or some other very expensive and fancy European brand. We immediately were taken to a high school nearby to Peace Corps headquarters and after a short lunch of pizza and soda we heard some short presentations about medical, safety and what to expect the first night with our host family. It was very difficult to pay any attention to the speakers even though what they were telling us was very important we were also super tired and super hot. However we all made it through and Im pretty sure I remembered most of what they said….
After we collected our medical kit, cell phone, safety package (fire extinguisher, smoke detector, and water purifier) and Moldovan money we were rushed into waiting vans and dropped off at our host families house. I am lucky enough to have a beautiful house and someone in the house who speaks pretty good English. So I spent a lot of time explaining things, eating, and learning Romanian words. (Side note on the food: Bread, Chicken, Strawberries, Cherries, and hot tea, what about all those horror stories I heard about the food?)
And now it is about 10:40 Moldovan time and I still haven't slept yet and I have class at nine…Time to go to bed.