It has been a week now since I left home. I went first to Washington where the fifty Peace Corps Volunteers I will spend the next two years with gathered in the hotel conference room to begin our lives as volunteers. From there we flew to Panama City and from there to the compound where our indoctrination into the Peace Corps began. Since then we have spent all our time in classes on safety and bureaucratic procedures, signing government mandated waivers to prove that we know anything and everything they are not liable for.
But today is when it truly all begins. We have left the compound and then English speaking world. There is no more air conditioning and familiar comforts. For the next 10 weeks I will be staying with a host family in the small community of Santa Clara along with the other 27 volunteers of the sustainable agriculture program. My host mother is a small but loud abuela by the name of Carmen, a matriarch of a family of women. Toothless but smiley, she yells at me in Spanish I can't understand and I respond in Spanish that makes no sense to her. When I ask her to repeat herself, she just talks louder and faster until she has to physical pull me to whatever it was she was talking about. All that I have understood so far is that I absolutely have to take at least two showers a day and a small part of a story about something that crawls through the windows at night that could kill me. It is sure to be an interesting next 10 weeks.