Tomorrow the adventure begins. I've been rearranging things in suitcases and carry-ons, washing, and hoping I have what I need. Like always, I probably have many things I don't need and some critical things I forgot. One of my carry-ons is just for electronics: my computer, Kindle, camera, PDA, cell phone and assorted accessories - chargers, videos, cables, etc. It's amazing. I fretted about how to use them all in Macedonia on the different current and bought 3 current transformers, only to learn that all electronics in this global age are made to take both 110 and 220 currents. Hmmm, things have changed since I lived Europe over 50 years ago! I have adapter plugs so I should be fine. Kacy and I decided I needed a new camera, so we went to H&B (is that right?) in Manhattan to buy one. That is a true NY experience. The store is huge and has every imaginable camera and accessory (as well as other electronics). It would be overwhelming but we just went to the point and shoot division where about a dozen men sat waiting for customers. You tell them what you want and what you want to spend, and they recommend which cameras will work best and show you all their features and what you need for them. They then write up the order, call it up from the warehouse, show it to you, and put it in a big bin. The bin is put on a track. You go downstairs and pay for it at one of the many pay stations, then go to the pick-up station, where someone has retrieved the bin off the track and packaged your purchase up for you. Every electronics store should be so helpful and organized.
I've also signed up for Skype and tested it. Chris and I both have built in video cameras on our computers, so we talked to each other and saw each other at the same time. Chris picked up his computer and moved it around his office so I could see it - I hadn't been there before, so now at least I've had a visual tour. My sister Deborah and I chatted through it - she's getting her mike for her computer on Friday! I'll be able to call land-lines as well as computers from Macedonia. All of this I learned about on the Macedonia 14 Facebook group - dang, it is a different world.
I fly to DC tomorrow for a 6 hour orientation and paper-filling out session. We leave for Macedonia on Saturday. It's a nine hour flight to Vienna, then an hour and 40 minutes from there to Skopje. We're boarded on a bus for Kumanov where we'll spend the next five days at the Hotel Satelit - it has a website so you can see what it looks like. After that we're divided into pods of 5-7 volunteers and sent to a variety of communities for 2 months to train and learn Macedonian. We live with families and I've heard training is very intense. I may have limited access to the internet during training, but once I'm in my placement I'll have it at my apartment. The joke in Marlow was that I'll have better internet in Macedonia than I had in Marlow. After that I should be able to communicate more regularly.
Today I'll call family, do some washes, and go out for a celebratory dinner with Kacy and Udi. Take care, everyone. Talk to you again soon.