Sunday, October 24, 2010

More Human Than Human

It's been quite some time since I took the time to let my readers know what has been happening. It boils down to being in Toubabadou. Let me tell you it is AMAZING!

I know a lot of our fellow volunteers end up prolonging their Peace Corps experience and serving the people they stay another year or even longer. We aren't going to be those people. We had a lot of good times, but nothing significant enough that I would trade more time away from friends, family, and my native culture.

The British Isles were a true pleasure. This leg of our journey home was overwhelming at times, so much diversity and so many people and choices at stores. We stayed with some friends of a friend in London and it was everything I had hoped it would be. The British Museum is officially one of my favorite places in the world. We lost and found our luggage and moved on to the cruise ship.

The cruise ship was another world, we have never experienced such luxury and the contrast between our cruise and our PC service was staggering. We ate a lot, visited loads of places, took a pilates class, and met some interesting people along the way. Due to weather we were not able to visit Northern Ireland or Iceland but it was a great trip none the less.

We docked in NYC, NY. We came in at 4 in the morning and seen the Manhattan skyline and cruised right past the Statue of Liberty all lit up. It felt like the perfect way to come home. We were able to hook up with some former PC RIM friends and stayed with one of their families it was great.

My dad came and got us in NYC and took us to Philly. We reconnected with part of my family and were showered with gifts and spent some good quality time off and on for a couple weeks. We went to South Carolina to visit Kristy's father and found more PC RIM friends over the week we were around. Over a week ago we came back to Ohio gathering things we left behind with beloved friends and family here and there. Soon we shall go Toledo back to where we started, to catch up and move on to the western part of these here United Sates.

In the few short weeks I have been back we have had high and low swings for serious and silly reasons. I have noticed how much people have and how much is wasted without much of a thought. I have noticed both inspired and uninspired individuals living the best they can manage. I have remembered what I was looking for when we left for Africa and why we wanted to relocated out of Ohio. I have realized how much we left behind and how much there is left for us yet to do.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Coming To America

So here it is folks, this is my last post from Africa. Over two years ago, I like many others before me, set out to make a dent in the world. I learned that the world dents you right back. I am a better person for having come and ridden this bumpy road.

I think that the biggest dent in me is the America shaped one. I appreciate my liberties and culture more now than I ever thought I could. I got all teary eyed when I was thanked on behalf of the U.S. govt and for serving my country.

Some stuff, I will miss about PC life and stuff I do miss about home.

I will miss

Slow days
fresh food
big sky's
baobab trees
choosing my schedule
seeing a noticeable difference

I do miss
soft things to sit and sleep on
fast internet
being a classroom teacher

Thanks for reading, I will post a couple more times about our trip home and the readjustment but there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I'm Afraid Of Americans

In 1 week Kristy and I shall begin our journey home. Here is a vague outline of our itinerary (a detailed one would be a silly thing to post for the interwebs to see).

Banjul to Dakar - fly to England

Dakar to London - hang out a few days until we board cruise ship

London to New York - pit stops along the way are England, Ireland, N. Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, and Canada

New York to Philly

Philly to Baltimore

Baltimore to S. Carolina

S. Carolina to N. Carolina

N. Carolina to Ohio

Ohio to Colorado

Colorado to Arizona - Oh yeah if you haven't heard, we are planning on moving to AZ when we get back, inshalla

The locations in the states are too many for me to write, or I don't know the city's name. Hit us up we will make it a point to see you, but our time (read - money) is limited. How we are going to be getting around in the US is still a mystery, we have no transportation.

Disclaimer - Returning from PC will be an adjustment for us. You will have to be a bit patient with us. We aren't used to a lot of things Americans take for granted anymore. We mix different languages into our speaking. Our mannerisms are going to be different. We don't know what has happened in American culture for the last 2 years, some references are going to blow right past us. We are gonna want to do a lot of the stuff we haven't been able to for a few years. Some of it is gonna spook us a bit, we'll get through it, be patient.

After all this, we want to see you, all of you. We miss you and love you. Any chunk of time away from people makes us grow in different ways. We are still the people you knew and you are still the people we knew there has just been different stuff that has happened to all of us.

Monday, August 9, 2010


This is going to be quick and dirty.

Life trucks on a break neck speed living in Fajara with less than 2 weeks until we close our service. I have so much paperwork that I am putting off that it's not funny, yet I do it. I am not looking forward to all that American responsibility, bleh, but I'll take it in stride. I'll have to.

I posted some pictures in an album called Mustaches, Tire Swinging, and Good-byes click on the link or visit the Picasa album. There should be some small pictures on the right hand side of my blog that will take you there. Go look at them now, there will be a test later.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Last Caress

So much of our time as of late has been occupied with "last times". It's the last time we will do this or see this person, it is exhausting and invigorating at the same time.

Although we moved out of our village a couple weeks ago we didn't say goodbye until yesterday. Yesterday we braved the ferry crossing for the third to last time :) and visited our main job sites and our family compound, for the really last time. We shall miss the friends, family, and colleagues that we encountered. It's nice to have some closure.

Essau Senior Secondary was a ghost town compared to how it normally was. There were a handful of teachers and staff members and one or two students lingering around the office trying to pick up their transcripts. As per normal my headmaster was absent, he called and sent his regrets after I texted him apologizing for being late. I thought it was a fitting that the end was consist ant with our working relationship. Kristy and I waited around, shot the breeze and then right about when we were scheduled to leave they called everyone in for a meeting, :) of course. It was rather formal my work was highlighted and anecdotes about my work and friendships were shared. It really was quite nice, and I feel that it went exactly the way it should have. Kristy and I walked away from the experience with some fancy African clothes and a belly full of food.

Essau Lower Basic was a bird of a different color. There were extra people there to send off Kristy and I. This was her primary job site. Cold Fanta's and Coke's were passed out, I got a black current one awesome, and kind words were shared. It was a jovial and warm setting. Kristy even got to meet headmasters of other schools that will benefit directly from her work in the garden and the orchard there. We got some more fancy clothes, that is probably some kind of tradition. When we left we were given left handed hand shakes, a wish to see us again, and walked to the family compound.

The Family wasn't all home but they came when they heard we were around. Pictures that we took (and Shannon took when she was here) were given as a parting gift and they were ooohh'd and aaahh'd over. We chatted, sat, and looked at the garden, my peppers are growing, and the morenga tree has seen better days. Sadly the tire swing was taken down, but only while some construction is happening, inshalla. On parting promises of last phone calls were made and we walked away to find a taxi or gelly.

The familiar cries of "toubab minty" were heard as walked away from our village for the last time, some things won't be missed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Say Hello To Heaven

In one of my first blog entries I wrote about a sacrifice and loss that our service cost us. Yesterday we repeated that loss. Our two surviving pets are no longer with us in this plane. We deeply regret that we were not able to be there to see them off. I like to think that they were a lot luckier than a lot of the animals I have met here, they were adopted into not 1 but 2 loving homes. They had long, full lives, 15 years, and were one of the things that kept the candles burning on the home front for us. This loss of an anchor makes the pull to the familiar a different experience.

It sucks, we will miss them, Snowball and Beavis were good friends.

Sad days.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Rain King

Wrapping up is hard to do here. There are a million things to do, we can't take most of our things with us so we have to gift them to our host family,ex-pat neighbors, or fellow volunteers. We have to say goodbye, eat at our friends houses one more time, give hugs, hand shakes. Sometimes the handshake is done with the left hand, it is meant as an insult so that the people separating have to be reunited to rectify the insult, it's not goodbye but see you a lot later. We also have to settle bills, if we have them.

It's a lot harder when you aren't even at site. Our latrine filled with water after a kinda short rain. It honestly was pretty gross, and I will refrain from describing the mess here. Needless to say our small home been rendered somewhat inhabitable. We have been in town for 5-6 day now and our return to site just for an assessment has not been scheduled, yet. PCTG is really busy right now, there are new trainees in country, on top of day to day activities. If our latrine is repairable/replaceable they will do it and almost immediately replace us with, Dado, a volunteer that has her own troubles at site and does a bunch of work in our village. Kristy's projects might have a person to keep a watchful eye on them for another year, that would be really cool.

I mentioned new trainees are here. I get to do a training session with them! I am really happy about it. I volunteered to teach them how to cook American-style comfort foods with Gambian ingredients using the facilities we have here. This will hopefully supplement their dietary needs and give some much needed piece of mind that eating foods your recognize gives us. I will be participating in that at the end of this month.

post script Tomorrow is my 32nd birthday make sure you save all my presents for when I get home. Kristy will have just celebrated her birthday when we arrive, and we like presents.