I got up this morning about 3:30, and was in enough of a hurry not to think about lasts (plenty of time for reflection now, unfortunately). I caught a 6:40 flight to Philadelphia, where it is in fact cloudy and raining - not at all as advertised. The hotel has Wifi, so I'm able to post this last post before tomorrow. They trickled in somewhat slowly, but now there are about 70 of us Peace Corps Trainees. The people who had to come from the west coast got to arrive the day before, while others showed up by car with families in tow. Sign-in was at noon, the process much ameliorated by my having filled out all the paperwork beforehand. Apparently there will be more inoculations in Bishkek, but for today all I got was this lousy H1N1 shot. Vaccines were followed by hours and hours of expectations, advice, logistics, etc. I admit I dozed occasionally - not wandering the town wasted on vodka was something I'd decided against before today. People all seem very nice, and very diverse. I met a guy from Bloomington, but there are people from all over, and of all ethnicities. For some reason, I think I was just expecting white people. Everyone also seems to have made friends with everyone. I have no idea how that works, but I always feel a little left out.
There was a lot of talk about dedication, and commitment to service: things we're meant to ponder before getting on the bus in the morning. For some people, I suppose this means ending relationships, selling houses, choosing one career over another. Five months ago, a group like mine came to this hotel, expecting to leave for Turkmenistan the following day. Instead, they were told the Peace Corps was pulling out of the country, and sent home. Some of those people are here now, having had to move in with friends or parents in the interstices. It sort of feels like that could happen again - am I really going to Kyrgyzstan? I'm still in America, so it kind of feels like just a vacation. I'm realizing that I really like living in this country, and I'm not sure if I want to leave it for two years in the prime of my life. I think my worries are based on a couple of misconceptions - that two years is a huge amount of time that will pass very slowly, and that Kyrgyzstan is a cold, dark, bleak place where hairy people drink vodka and write depressing books. The latter, at least, will (I hope) be dispelled quickly and soon, and I think the knowledge that if I really do hate it there I can, in fact, leave, will actually make it easier to stay. The first three months will be a good barometer, so I will stick them out and see how it goes.
Tomorrow's trip will take about two days and won't include internet access, and I have no way of knowing how soon I'll be able to get online in Bishkek. So until then, wish me luck.