The First Few Days / by Alan Strathman

Some of my blog posts will be centered on issues of importance and others on sending updates and photos.  This is one of those. 

I arrived in Miami on Thursday the 11th at 10 am and we had orientation from 2pm-7pm.  After that I had dinner with my new PC friends Mary and Steve, a married couple who are serving together.

The next day we woke at 4 am, checked out of the hotel and drove to the airport for a 9:55 am flight.  We were staying at an airport hotel, close to the airport, but wrangling 32 people with extensive luggage into a bus and then into line at the airport took most of the time.

We arrived in St. Lucia at 1:30 and spent an hour getting our bags, finding the PC reps and then getting ourselves onto busses and our luggage onto a truck. It was really hot, as we knew it would be, but when you exit the airport and all the air conditioning, the heat hits hard.

We had a scenic drive to the Benedictine Abbey. The airport is at the southernmost part of the island and the Abbey is about 2/3 of the way to the northernmost part of the island.  The road was winding and the terrain hilly and the drive took about 90 minutes. 

None of my pictures do justice to St. Lucia's beauty

None of my pictures do justice to St. Lucia's beauty

The abbey is a working abbey housing an indeterminate number of nuns.  They provide very good food and the grounds are beautiful with spectacular views of the oceans and the mountains.  I am rooming with my new PC friend Dave.  We are on the side of the building without much breeze and so I slept entirely on top of the sheets with as little on as I thought Dave could bear.  The next day we realized the room had an air conditioning unit.

The building above is the abbey chapel.  I sat on the steps for a few minutes as one of the nuns played the organ and a choir sang "Ave Maria." As beautiful as a catholic song can be for a Jewish guy.

Tomorrow, we have a little more training and then pack everything up again and drive into Baboneau, which is a part of Castries, the largest city on St. Lucia, where we will meet our homestay family.  We will live with them for the first 7 weeks of training.  Oh boy!

So far, all is well. The Peace Corps says that only 8% of volunteers are 50 or older but 9 of the 32 in our group are. Of the people over 50, I am the youngest.  The range is 51 to mid-70's I would guess.  I can't help but think they want to have older people closer to the US in case some medical care is needed.

Stay tuned friends.  I am thinking of you and hope all is well.