Happy New Year everyone! It has been such a whirlwind since my last blog, but here’s the rundown on my last month or so.
My girls’ program came to a close for 2011 in accordance with the Mozambican school year. We threw an end of the year party for our girls where about 80 showed up. We prepared food all day for the event and enjoyed out last day all together in 2011. I spent most of the day soaking up my situation… I have completed one full year of my Peace Corps service and one full year of work with my PEDRA program. Incredible!
I wrapped up my last few days at site and on December 15th I started my journey home. 31 (flight time) hours later I was running off the plane in Seattle to see my family. I was expecting my mom to go a little crazy, but she actually held it together! I went up the escalator at SeaTac Airport and hugged my family for the first time in 15 months… best feeling ever. We headed home to a new house and a big new comfy bed for me!
My parents moved into our remodeled lake house while I was in Mozambique. I was a little apprehensive at first because I spent the last 20 years of my life in our old house, but once we pulled up to the driveway my worries disappeared. The house was amazing! I spent the next 3 weeks enjoying the heck out of the new lake house atmosphere: otters lounging on our dock, our neighbor, the bald eagle, dining on fish, and a pair of swans passing by occasionally to say hi!
The other nerves I thought I’d encounter while home was the culture shock of being back in the States. Reflecting on my time at home, the only moment of internal hysteria was a casual trip to Best Buy the first full day I was back. Come on… who can blame me?!? One, Best Buy is already overwhelming. And two, it was one week before Christmas so (as my former site mate would say) it was a hot mess! After that, I felt like I was able to easily adjust to my “old” life i.e. driving (oh how I miss driving), teasing my brother, and best of all, playing with my dog who luckily did not completely forget about me.
Here are some of home’s highlights besides spending time with my family and Godparents:
· Emotional reunion with my two best friends, Samantha and Caron, as well as multiple visits with them.
· Finally meeting my brother’s lovely and amazing girlfriend, Carly, in person- Thanks Carly for being such a great support system to me while I’m over here. She’s a keeper!!
· Eating lunch/dinner with my former bosses… two of the best mentors a girl could ask for: Rep. Larry Seaquist and Deb Wallace.
· Christmas Eve and Day with my family- I love time with just the 4 of us.
· All the amazing food I ate especially Mexican food!
· The words out of my mom’s mouth- I can’t say much more as I want to keep this blog PG-13. Love you mom!!
· Visiting two 4th grade classrooms in Federal Way and Marysville, WA- I had the best day! Kids really do say the darnedest things!
· Skiing with my brother- not the best snow, but still a GREAT day with my big brother.
Soon after, the nightmares I was having in Mozambique came true… It was time to return to my service. The time at home flew by. To a certain degree I was excited to get back to my colleagues, the work I’ve planned for this year, my fellow Peace Corps volunteers and of course the tropical weather. This time I knew what I was getting myself into (as compared to the first time I left home in September 2010). On the other hand, this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I had hear that some volunteers have an extremely tough time re-adjusting back to their site while others simply just don’t return to the country of service after they get a taste of home. The night I headed back to the airport, every inch of my body was fighting to stay at home. I wasn’t ready to leave the comforts of home and didn’t know if I was ever going to be ready. I had to shut off my brain and my heart and just let my instincts do the work. Next thing I know I’m on my 27 hours voyage back to Mozambique. I’m not going to lie… the flight was hard, but arriving in Mozambique was extremely difficult. I didn’t want to be back and on top of that, my bags got left behind in Ethiopia with everything in them. This time I was the hot mess… 3 days without a shower and tears galore (luckily my bags arrived in full 2 days later).
I got to my site finally after the longest travel of my life and ran into the supporting arms of my site mate, Caitlin, who I am forever indebted to for helping me get through this confusing, emotional and just downright tough time.
It took me 2 very long, tear-filled days along with the advice from loved ones back home and the patience of Caitlin to make me feel semi-stable. A week back at site and I still feel anxious at times… especially in the morning. I’m trying to get used to being alone again. It’s so weird… I was living alone for a full year here (and I did the same back home), but these 3 weeks with my family messed me up.
I’m refocusing myself on the work to be done this year and grasping the concept that I’m in the home stretch of my service. COS stands for Close of Service, which I will be doing THIS year!!
Next up for me: I head down to our capital city to meet up with my Moz15 group for mid-service checkups. I haven’t seen a lot of the group since we officially swore in December 3, 2010. So excited! Also, I will be staying down there for two more weeks in preparation for the GRE at the US Embassy on February 11th. Wish me good luck!
I miss everyone from home so much. I love you all and can’t wait to be with you by the end of this year!