Sunday, March 04, 2007

Helloooooo March

Is the year going really fast for anyone else or is that just me? Last week, the Peace Corps had all the AZ4 Community Economic Development Volunteers in Baku for two days of training with all our counterparts. For the most part it was pretty good. It was good to hear what everyone’s counterparts expected of the volunteers and gave us a little more insight into their perspective of what kind of work they want us to do. Also, I think it will ultimately make it easier at work to have better communication with our counterparts on what we need and want and all that good stuff. Arzu (my counterpart) had lunch with my friends and me and everyone had a great time. Plus, we all got three nights in Baku with most of our friends which is always a good time. We ate chicken sandwiches with a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s jammed in the middle for lunch and had burgers Wednesday night, pizza Thursday night and nachos and beer Friday night. All of it was great. On Saturday it was time to go back to site, which for me of course, means Lankaran.

This last week brought a couple new experiences for me. Last Sunday, I woke up and there was several inches of snow cover on the ground. It has snowed in Lankaran before, but it only stuck around for maybe half a day. This snowfall actually looked like it would stay. Not only did it stay, it snowed MUCH more in the next two days. By Tuesday we had easily over a foot of snow on the ground. This of course, led to a lot of fun. On Monday at work we decided to take a break from our daily routine and Aygun, Arzu, Ziya and I all headed outside to build a snowman, which got kicked down immediately, and romp around in the snow. We went to a nearby park where we all had a small snowball fight, made some snow angels and just basically ran around like little kids home from school. For lunch, my office has a tradition of having lunch all together after the first big snowfall with our coordinator, Rufat, and they also invited Ashley to join us. They usually go out to eat at a restaurant, but decided to order in and have lunch in the office this time. Needless to say, I like this tradition.

The second new thing this last week was riding the train in Azerbaijan. Since the snow seemed like it was going to stick around for a while and Ashley and I wanted to get to Baku a little early to take care of some errands, we decided to take the night train from Lankaran which leaves around 9 and gets into Baku around 6 the next morning. Apparently, they have two person cabins and four person cabins. By the time we bought our tickets there were only four person cabins left and as it goes anywhere, you never know who will be in your cabin with you. The two people that were in our cabin with us seemed relatively quiet and generally uninterested in the goofy Americans sitting with them. A fifth person wandered in (I guess he knew one of the guys) and was very interested in us. So we had a good conversation with our new friends and they even offered us some tea. After having our tea and cake, we decided to kill some time by watching a movie on Ashley’s computer and then try and get some sleep. Other than that, we had an uneventful journey. After we got off the train we tried to catch a bus and waited for the right one to come along for about 45 minutes which was really fun at 6:15 in the morning.

Some big news for me came on Wednesday from the other volunteer in Lankaran, Tim. I’ve mentioned the project that Arzu and I have been writing with the Community Development Committee that we submitted to an organization called CHF where we hope to produce some tourism booklets and maps to help create more tourism in the Lankaran region. Well, on Wednesday, Tim informed me that CHF accepted our proposal and the project will be moving forward, so I got my first project proposal accepted as a volunteer here. I’m pretty excited about it and am looking forward to the next steps. I’m sure that will be an interesting and fun new challenge for me and I can’t wait to see what happens. Aside from that, I introduced my co-workers to the typing lessons I created for them and they seem to enjoy them so far. It’s hard to find time where they have the free time to practice the typing and where we have electricity to run the computers. Luckily, though, the electricity has been much more consistent lately (knock on wood) so hopefully that run continues. I’m still looking for my own place to live in and I hope to get that wrapped up this week, but if not, I’ll just keep looking. I’ve posted pictures of us playing in the snow. The group photo is Aygun, me, Arzu and Ziya. The two of the street are looking from the door of my office. The others are just random photos from playing in the snow, including Ziya and me on a seesaw.


Anonymous Erin said...

I love all the snow pics! Looks like fun! Today all my neighbor kids decided to make my front yard into their sledding hill, which was fun to watch because they were out there the whole day! Yay snow...but now it's March, so where is Spring? hmmm.
Have a great week! Miss you!

8:44 PM  

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