Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Homestays and Training

Monday I moved in with my homestay family. They are extremely nice and welcoming. The homestay mom and dad are Joania and Rafael and they have a son and daugher Rael and Shernon. Rile and Shounon are a close to may age. Joania and Rafael picked me up from the St. Lucia Peace Corps office, and Joania cooked dinner when we got home. We spent the evening chatting and watching TV before going to bed. I have my own room with a very comfy bed, and I use the hall bathroom, which I think is shared although no one else's stuff is in there.

I am learning to get up early! Which should surprise all of you… My host family (and as far as I can tell most St. Lucians) gets started before 6:00a.m. In fact, my host mom sometimes goes walking at 3:00a.m. in the morning! It is much cooler at that time, and I suspect the traffic is less of a nuisance. I will probably be waking up at around 6:00 most days which means going to bed early is a must! Oh, and the community roosters (emphasis on the plural) have taken over the job of my alarm clock.

My host family has a very beautiful home. It is two stories and is fenced all the way around. Joania grows many fruit trees in the back yard. She pointed them all out to me and named them, but I can't remember them all. They have 5 or 6 dogs that stay out on the porch on the basement level (dogs are outside animals here). They are very cute and like to bark at everything. The community school adjoins my host family's property, so I do not have to walk far when I go in for my school attachment. It is a primary school so the kids are younger. I don't know yet which teacher I will be assisting.

Tuesday, my host parents gave me a ride to the Peace Corps office in their car, which was really nice because I didn't have to figure out the bus system right away. I spent the whole day in the PC office with the other trainees learning about safety, culture, school systems, and language. It was a bit overwhelming. We have papers and packets and books and assignments and all sorts of things to worry about. At some point during our 7 weeks of training we will be planning and implementing a community activity… which is sorta making us all a little nervous. It should be good practice for us though.

After PC training I walked with the rest of the trainees to downtown Castries to the bus terminal behind the market. There we found our specific buses and headed our separate ways. I am lucky in that another trainee, Ann, is staying almost right next door. So we traveled together. The buses, or minibuses I should say, are a little bigger than minivans but not as big as an 18-passenger van. They like to pack in tight though. I learned this afternoon that you have to be careful when exiting the buses because there are large ditches on the sides of most roads. One said ditch almost swallowed me alive this afternoon in front of many amused St. Lucians.

Tonight my host mom cooked Roti, a traditional St. Lucian dish. It is sorta like a burrito except the wrap is a little different and the fillings are curried chicken and potatoes. It's really good and I hope to learn how to make it sometime soon.

Today we went to open our bank accounts at the Bank of St. Lucia in Castries. This account is how PC will provide our living allowances.

I am a little overwhelmed at this point because all I see is all that has to be done, but I am sure it will go by quickly. I still have little surreal moments where I am amazed that this is all real and yes it is me sitting here in St. Lucia with the Peace Corps, and yes I will be here for 2 years… it's kinda crazy!

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