To begin our trip off right, the bus drivers dropped us at the domestic terminal instead of the international one; so, all of us with all of our baggage marched through JFK airport to the Air train and got ourselves to the right terminal. When we arrived at the correct terminal, we found out that our tickets were only reserved as “standby,” so while the airline worked with SATO travel all 71 of us with our bags in hand waited in line (you can only imagine the stares we received). Once we made it through security it was time for lunch and to board the plane! Through the process of getting through the airport, I met some really interesting people, learned some interesting uses for a banana (including as leather shoe shiner), and realized what an amazing and diverse group the M25s are.
After a VERY long layover in Frankfurt, I grabbed a bite to eat which was the last time I ate McDonald’s. I then put on some business casual clothes and prepared to board the plane to Moldova! Once in Moldova, we were greeted by several Peace Corps staff members, gathered our luggage and tried to fit our bags on the buses. I think everyone in the group made at least one comment about how big my bags were or how heavy they were. Oh well. A girl needs what a girl needs right?
Once we arrived at Hotel Turist in Chisinau, we all sat in a large room and listened to a few people speak, including the acting country director, Margaret (who served with the Peace Corps in Mexico and Guatemala)! At this point in the evening I was so tired that it is a good thing that they gave us a folder with all of the necessary materials for the next few days.
Our training began with two days of intensive language, culture, and safety/health lectures. It was pretty intense. Then all of the groups moved to our training “cluster sites.” All of the ARBDs (Agriculture and Rural Business Development) volunteers moved to Milestii Mici! A village boasting the largest wine collection in the world! Yes, Moldova is in the Guiness Book of World Records. This “village” is awesome; it is almost like a suburb of Chisinau, with many of its residents working in the city. My host mom (whose last name means cucumber) is amazing and she works very hard around the house, in her garden and at the vineyard.