Well, I did it! I am officially a PC Volunteer! How exciting. Wednesday we had a two hour long ceremony with speakers and all the works. After we took the oath to swear in as PCVs I felt like I should change the side of my tassel or throw my cap in the air (neither of which I had!). It was really exciting though. Sorry for the lack of pictures, my camera is broken, but as soon as I get pictures from other people I will post them (which will be a while because we are all not scattered over Azerbaijan!) Afterwards the majority of us went to the local favorite hangout for the "after party." In complete un-Azerbaijani fashion my host mom, who came to the ceremony, said I could stay out as late as I wanted. So, being the wild child that I am, I came home at 7.30 - way after dark (which now is getting dark a little before 6.00)! I spent my last night hanging out with my host family and trying to figure out the impossible task of fitting all of my stuff in one suitcase. Which, FYI, didn't happen so I had to leave some stuff at my host family's house and I will go back in a month or so to get it. (This is after already having 2 suitcases in Imishli at my site mates' houses full of my stuff.) In my defense, I have been given so much stuff (sleeping bag, water filter, fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide detector, medical kit, mosquito net, and not to mention the massive amount of books from the PC - so I am not a complete pack rat!)
Thursday morning, I gathered all my stuff and walked from my house to meet up with two other people to catch taxi to Baku - in the rain. Yesterday it really started to feel like winter, dreary, cold, wet, cold, damp, did I mention cold! :) I am a wimp anyway when it comes to cold weather, but I am usually cold here all the time. I have decided that I am usually cold because I am going from cold weather outside to cold places inside. I have not been anywhere in Azerbaijan yet with central heat. That means that whatever electric heater or gas stove the house or building has is where the heat comes from - not always heating up the entire room. Anyway, back on to my traveling. I made it to Baku and found the bus going to Imishli. I got there early enough to get a good seat (i.e. for women the middle of the bus) and get my suitcase in the back (i.e. not having to pay for two seats because there is no room for my suitcase). I waited on the bus for about 45 minutes until it filled up. (The buses leave once they are full - not at scheduled times). We took the Iran way to Imishli meaning that we drove right (literally about 10 feet) from the Iranian boarder for part of the way. Surprisingly the border was not as exciting as I had made it out to be. Just a 4 or 5 ft fence with barb wire on the top - not super impressive. I didn't see guards or anything, I was told later that is because we are not near any cities in Iran. But, I made it to Imishli and went I got to the Cultural Palace (where I was going to meet my director) I told the bus driver to stop and I got off. I then called my director and was standing on the sidewalk with my book bag on, purse, and holding a massive suitcase with a sleeping bag on top - needless to say I looked out of place. Which is probably why I drew a crowd of people. It started with just two boys and then several men came up to me as well. Well, in my wonderful Azerbaijani skills I evidently did not clearly communicate that I was not trying to sell my stuff because they kept trying to buy it from me! It was quite funny, but as soon as my director came everyone cleared out and then I was taken to my new host family's house. My host mother made plov and grape leave dolma for me - quite delicious. Last night was uneventful, we lost the power for a while, but it came back on and I went to bed early because I was exhausted. I am getting a little sick - sore throat, coughing, runny nose - the usual winter cold. But, there are of a number of reasons (if you ask my host mother in Sumgayit) why I am sick - I drink cold water, I walk around a lot, I come and go often (to and from school 2 times a day!), I don't wear enough clothes, etc... - just to name a few! :)
But, I am safe in Imishli and I am suppose to meet with my director tomorrow at 11.00 am to figure out exactly what I will be doing for my job. I am looking forward to that conversation and I am hoping that a translator will be present. I know several people have asked for my address and as soon as I get it I will let you all know. I have to get the help of one my site mates to go the Post Office and figure it out (I don't believe my mail can be sent directly to my house - it comes to the post office and then they call me and I come and get it - I think). Regardless, I need a translator to go to the post office with me to let me them know I am now living here!