On Sunday, my dad and Gabi drove me to the airport, and on the drive, I felt like I was on Splash Mountain on my way up to the top of the waterfall, ready to fall over the edge. I had a lot of anxiety about the unknown of it all and felt sad to leave everyone for such a long period of time. After an emotional goodbye, I dragged my awkward, heavy bags into the airport and flew to DC for staging.
As soon as I got to the staging hotel around 11pm, I met my roommate and felt instantly calmer. She was extremely friendly and we ended up walking around DC at midnight looking for food since both of us were still on West Coast time. We ended up ordering pizza to our room and getting to know one another. The following day, I met the rest of the group, and everyone is so amazing. We all realized in our orientation that we have similar anxieties about the Peace Corps, and we're really all in this together. It felt very relieving to know that we're all going through the same thing and that we can support one another throughout this journey.
Tuesday morning, we woke up early to go to the clinic to get our Yellow Fever vaccine and then were off to the airport to fly to Senegal. We just arrived at 6am this morning and rode in vans to Thies as the sun was rising. It felt so surreal to actually be in Africa! I'd been waiting for that moment for so long, and it had finally arrived. Stepping off the plane, I could immediately feel the humidity, and it has warmed up throughout the day. The hot season here runs from March through June, so I'm in for some heat in the next few months!
As our van drove us on the 2 hour ride from the airport to the training center in Thies, I soaked it all in. I was imagining Dakar to be very different from what I saw today. As we drove past Dakar, I saw horses and donkeys carrying carts, goats and sheep roaming around the dirt, rubble along the sides of the road, and buildings that were falling apart. It got prettier as the drive went on. As we moved further out of Dakar, we passed beautiful Baobab trees, and the sun coming up was a massive red ball emerging from afar.
The training center is beautiful, full of gardens and open shaded spaces for volunteers to congregate. Some of my friends and I just finished playing soccer, volleyball, and frisbee, as we have some free time before lunch. Right now, I'm sitting in a shaded outdoor gazebo type structure with all the volunteers as we utilize the WiFi here.
I feel very positive and am excited to begin my pre-service training! I'm definitely in the euphoria stage of being abroad and am happy to stay in that phase for as long as I can!