Ok, so let’s just start with Staging. Or better yet the morning of staging. Or better than that, a few days before leaving for staging when my mom planned a surprise going away party for me complete with all my favorite foods and people! We ate, laughed, cried and laughed and ate some more, and even had a fire outside to enjoy! It was “one of those nights you would remember forever” directly quoted by my bff Katie. That day was very rough. I had to say goodbye to my little brother and sister that we’re back off to college. It’s hard to say goodbye to people who are in every minute of your life. But I had to remember that it’s only see you later. I cried, took some pictures and sent them off. Then the night before staging, I had to say my goodbyes to my other littlest brother. That was hard y’all. This lil guy is like my right hand. Goodbyes were hard. He didn’t understand because he’s only 12. He doesn’t understand why his big sister is leaving him for 27 months. But the only thing I could tell him was that I was always going to be with him even though I’m not there physically. Just a short phone call away. A simple text. A short video chat. Then the next morning came. Staging day! I woke up (3:00am) from the little sleep I got, showered in my own shower for the last time, cried my eyes out while saying goodbye to my 8 year old Golden Retriever pup, Trigo, slapped my makeup on, had my last cup of morning coffee with my mom and Dad, got dressed in my business casual, finished packing my bag, kissed my little brother on the forehead and told him goodbye one last time, and headed to the airport. Mom and Dad came with me, and on the way we had several encouraging conversations. Just be careful Bailey, we love you so much Bailey, we are so proud of you Bailey. That’s all I wanted to hear. Then we got to the airport, I checked my luggage, and my flight was delayed another couple hours, but my parents had to leave so they could take my brother to school that morning. So I had to say goodbye then. Y’all, that SUCKED. It was a tear fest. In the middle of the airport. I hugged my mom and Dad for the last time for the next 8 months (when I come home for a visit), and I left up the escalator to go through security. After that was over, I was fine! I just had to get past the sad stuff to see the hopefully fun and wonderful stuff there is to come.
I finally land in Houston at like 11:30am, got my luggage and a taxi and went to the hotel where staging was to be held. When I walked in, there were a handful of people with a crap ton of luggage in the lobby and I instantly said “oh ok these have to be my people!” 😅 They all laughed and said “yes that would be us!” From that moment I knew this would be a great experience. A little later we were able to register and then we got our fancy shmancy peace corps passport. Well not really got it, but we got to see it lol. Then we started our sessions and did a bunch of ice breakers and then started with the actual info part of staging. I think my favorite part of staging was that not once did they use a PowerPoint. This was all very real talk, unscripted and honest conversations about what lies ahead for us in Guatemala. It was a mini crash course of what to expect during our time with the Peace Corps as well as a review of the policies and protocols. Then we did a few more activities and then finally we finished. We were given information about our flight to Guatemala, and then staging was complete! Easy peezy! It was not near as stressful as what I was expecting. But everyone’s staging experience will be different so I can only speak for me. We went to eat dinner at chipotle for our last American dinner, and went to room to finish packing once again. Then around 11pm, I was finally able to hit my pillow and get approximately 3 hours of sleep before having to get up in the morning. Once we all were in the lobby at 3:30am, we were given fancy green pieces of yarn that we were told is a Peace Corps tradition. We tied a piece onto both pieces of luggage and were told it was to remind us that we are all a family. *cue tears*. Anyways, we all made it though security around 6:20am. It took us that long to figure out how to send 41 people on a group travel ticket to another country lol. Our flight left at 9:45am, so we had a crap ton of time to kill. So I got a coffee, a sandwich and slept for a while. Then we finally boarded the plane and left for Guate!
When we arrived and came down the escalators there were other currently serving PCVs holding signs, and shouting welcome to Guatemala Bak’tun 12!!!!! There was marimba music playing and it was just perfection. My heart melted!!! We then made it through security and customs, got our fancy stamp in our official PC passport, and loaded our luggage loaded ourselves in little busses to head for the PC office. I sat next to this guy who is also a YiD volunteer and we just chatted about everything about Guatemala and his experiences and it was such a wonderful conversation ☺️ Then we made it to the Peace Corps office. It is BEAUTIFUL Y’ALL!!!!!! It looks like a freaking embassy that’s how beautiful it is. Flowers everywhere, green luscious grass and trees, cool crisp air…. AY QUÉ RICO! We had never ending supply of coffee and then we started our sessions for the rest of the day after we ate lunch. Then at 5 we went to pack a small bag for the next three days because we would be staying in a hotel for the duration of the three days. Then at 6pm we had dinner which was soup and chicken, DELISH. Then we played some name games with the group and then bed time!
Next morning was even more fun filled, but it’s 10:30pm here and I’m exhausted so I’m going to have to tell y’all about this day tomorrow 😅 Bottom line, I LOVE GUATEMALA. Buenas noches mi gente!