Sunday, July 8, 2007

The beginning: Day 1 in Washington D.C.

So, my journey began at 6 am this morning. Actually, more like 3:45 am when I got up and in between last-minute packing and eating breakfast, I was frantically looking for the last few small items I did not want to forget (i.e. hackey sack, Spanish/English translator, photos, and glasses . . . which I forgot I had already packed).

One word of advice to everyone out there planning on going on a long trip: PACK EARLY! And if you don't like to pack early, then at least PLAN EARLY (and then pack at least two days before). I think I was more mentally ready to leave than physically, meaning I was excited to go, but the whole process of actually preparing to go was a lot harder than I expected. I left packing to the last day I had left and when 8 pm the night before rolled around and I was half-packed and still wanted to be with my friends and family, it was a pretty stressful, sleepless, night.

Also, at the airport, I came to the realization that I brought way too much stuff. I tried to follow the basic rule of if I can carry it, then I should take it. But I failed to try to see if I could carry everything before getting to the airport. Then at the airport, I realized my mistake.

But on a positive note, I am writing this blog from the safety and comfort of my air-conditioned hotel room and am enjoying free internet, free cable, and am deciding which of the two beds I should sleep in tonight. (Some luxuries I should indulge in now while I still can). And I managed to get all my bags safely to the seventh floor of the hotel, all in one trip.

I had an hour layover in Denver and then finally arrived in D.C. around 4:30 pm. I got to the hotel around 6 pm and immediately changed clothes and headed out the door to do a little bit of sightseeing in my first (and possibly only) free evening in the nation's capital. My first destination, the White House!
And, wow, is it a beautiful place! It was fun actually getting to see the grounds but also more interesting to see what is around the White House that you don't see on tv. For example, there is a woman that has set up an anti-nuclear peace vigil right outside the grounds and her signs say she has been there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week since 1981 protesting war and nuclear and genocidal weapons.

After the White House, I made my way to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian, and then to the Capitol. By the time I got to the Capitol, it was around 7:30 pm and I realized that in all the excitement, I had forgotten to eat since breakfast! Maybe the intense 97 degree heat took away my appetite. Anyways, I got dinner from a booth at a fair and then headed back to the hotel exhausted.

Yesterday, thinking about leaving was hard. I was so happy and comfortable being in the familiarity of my own home with my friends that I have known since before high school. It was hard to comprehend that the next day, all that comfort was going to be gone . . . for 27 months! I started to ask myself if I was really ready to leave and I was almost angry at myself for feeling so indifferent to the fact that I was going to leave everyone and everything behind so quickly, with such little closure. Now that I have taken the first step though, there's no looking back. I have made the commitment and I can honestly say that I am thrilled to be here and can't wait to see what tomorrow, the first day of staging, brings me.

4 comments:

Mom said...

Woohoo! You did it! How you carried everything to your hotel room in one trip, I can't imagine. Your first 3 months will pass quickly; enjoy and best of luck with lots of love. I miss you already, Mom

dad said...

Courtney, congratulations on your successful start to your Peace Corps career. Enjoy, have fun, and learn a great deal. Like mom, I too miss you. Love, Dad

Justine said...

I miss you already! I know you will have an amazing time and I am looking forward to following your journey.
Much Love,
Justine

Leslie said...

You packed too much? You should have left Planet Earth here for me to watch!