I finally made it to site! Yesterday, when I went to the PC office to check on my visa status, I was super excited and impressed to find that they got me a visa in 3 days! Yerkin is very good at his job - which I had heard, but now have experienced. The only thing is that that PC passport was actually the best official doc. picture I have ever taken! If only I could have at least kept the picture and dropped the rest down the hole.... Oh well. So they asked if I wanted to go then or wait until tomorrow... (It was around 1) I said, "Put me on a bus and let's go!"
The marshutka ride was something else. I've ridden on many marshutkas so far in Kaz, but this one was different. A marshutka is a van that is sort of like a mix between taxi and bus. For about the first hour it was like a party van, music just blaring! There were only 4 then more started getting on. I worked on my Kazakh workbook, not noticing how slowly we were puttering on. Our driver would occasionally stop the vehicle, get out, and check something. I didn't pay much attention. Then, a while later, he stopped the marshutka - it was shaking violently lol. He got out and paced around for a while - I was the only person that seemed concerned... Then he got back in and turned on the lights (it was dark by then) he said something and started getting up and getting out. I looked confused-ly at these two younger boys and they motioned to me that it was ok, and follow them. No one was taking their bags. So we get out and the van takes off lol. Uhh.. my stuff is in there! I'm just following at this point and everyone walks up this big hill. The van is way off in the distance. It goes out of sight. I assume that the thing couldn't make it up the hills and trust its there in the distance waiting for us! Thankfully it was. This happened again. Then we had to push it once. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. I mean this thing was going so slow! My counterpart is calling me, "Where are you? I'm waiting you..." Well... I'm in the middle of nowhere, but I'm on the way. Johnny's calling me, my regional manager is calling me... lol. Nonetheless, I made it!
So my site. To be honest, I'm pretty underwhelmed. It's verrrry small. Verrry country. There is no bazaar even. I'm trying to stay positive, though after one day I'm bored already. My school is nice. I haven't met any students - it's holiday right now until next week, which sort of works out well... allowing me to have a peaceful tour. The people seem nice but quiet... simple people. I hope that simple doesn't equal boring. It was quite uncomfortable today - all of my luggage was sent earlier and stayed in the director's office; so, I had no professional clothes... or host family gifts! How embarrassing. I should know better.
I met the school faculty and really connected with one lady in particular. She loves volleyball and we played a quick game. She is excited for me to help coach their team! On paper everything sounds better, I've found lol. We played in the "gym"... there was a "net". I must say that if I learned anything from the 19s (Victor:) these past couple of days, it's the word "relative". I now understand. Anyway, playing volleyball was fun. I also met and chose my host family. Of the three choices, I chose the family with 3 kids, a dog, piano, banya,mother is a nurse and policeman as the father! I'm quite happy with my choice! They were the last family to see and the previous two were sort of bland. Nothing stuck out to me... I prayed that this be a clear, easy, and right choice. I want to stay with my family for 2 years :) It was once I saw the piano and kids :) Plus I figure I'll be safe and healthy...! I was a little concerned that we were burning through the houses too quickly. My counterpart, director and I literally would walk in, take a look around and walk out. I was at least expecting tea! LOL - I didn't even have the chance to really speak with the families. ...Although, it did make it easier due to less pressure and being less personal (so no hard feelings).
Right now, I'm with my counterpart for one more night. She has three kids. Two sons, 20 and 15?, and a daughter, 5. The boys will barely even look at me let alone talk to me. The little girl is sweet but also quiet. My counterpart's English is much better than I remember - and she would probably say the same about my Kazakh lol. I've just been studying my Kaz books.... out of boredom really, but I think it impresses her.
Well, even though my literal first impression of this place was a little grey mouse friend scurrying out of my backpack this morning!!, I have hope after picking my host family. I have a good feeling about them and they were the only family I smiled naturally with - which I would say is a good indicator.