Monday, January 31, 2005

Arrived in Uzbekistan

We finally arrived in Uzbekistan. After a long day and a half of flying, we were thrown right into classes. By 5pm it had been over 48 hours and 7 meals since my last real sleep. I passed out and missed dinner, but got a nice 9 hours of sleep.

Friday was getting some shots and our allowance - 40,400 som. Almost $40. [dramatic pause] That's for the next two weeks. Although today is the first I've spent any money. 200 som for the marshutka into town, and 1000 som for an hour for internet.

Friday, we also met our host families. Mine live in Chirchik, about 45 minutes northwest of Tashkent. I was a tad nervous about what to expect, but fortunately my family is very nice and they even speak English. I live with a mother and father with three teenage sons. One of the sons has a wife and month old baby that also live there. The grandmother lives down the street and is also hosting a volunteer.

Yesterday (Saturday) we went guesting - visiting - to my host brother's in-laws. A massive meal was involved. We ate for almost four hours. By the time we got back home, the electricity was out and we had to use candles and my mag light to get around.

I'm cutting off here, as all the other PCTs are going over to the cafe to eat. We all ended up meeting here by chance to check out email.

But now I know where to go.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Black Thursday

Staging was a day and a half of meetings and meeting lots of people. There are 65 in our group, and I probably met two-thirds of them and remember one-third of their names. Come Monday I'm sure to have forgotten them all. But it's a cool group with people from all over the country (and world), with quite a diverse array of experiences.

Washington D.C. has been bitterly cold - it snowed a couple of inches yesterday and we seemed to have it blowing in our face the entire time. They also don't seem to plow the streets and so there were lots of sliding cars and sliding people (bricks don't make for a very tractable surface). Besides the four (including me) here bound for Uz, there are a number of medevacs here for surgery, doctor appointments, and recuperation. It's good to talk to some actual volunteers who can give us the unromanticized low down.

The Inauguration is today and we (seems the PC is about 90% Dems - I'd say 100%, but I'm sure there's a few who are just afraid to speak out) plan to head over there and join a protest. Although with the massive security out there (the entire Mall is fenced off) it might not be worth it - especially if we can't get within tomato throwing distance.

Our visas are ready for pickup and we're still scheduled to leave on Saturday evening. Until then...