"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." - Jawaharlal Nehru

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I'm Coming Home!

Only one-month ago, I celebrated my two-year mark in village.  It was a time to reflect on what I’ve seen and done here as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) and as a wandering soul.  Most people who I came here with said “Peace Out, Gambia!” and a handful of people will remain with me here for another year.  In one-month, I will be able to come home!  Peace Corps is helping me to come visit “the home people” before I dive into my third and final year in The Gambia.
My Reading Hammock in My Mom's Cassava Garden

One-year ago, if you mentioned to me “going back to America,” I’d feel anxious, stressed and hesitant.  I couldn’t even fathom leaving this simple, slow life to be thrown back into American culture, where life is fast, work is 9-5 and everyone owns a motor vehicle of some sort (well… mostly).  If you mentioned a grocery store, I would die a little inside.  I was terrified.

Needless to say, I’ve come a long way here and don’t necessarily feel the same way these days.  In fact, all I can think about is Mexican food, micro-breweries, live music and loved ones.  I’m still anxious to come visit, but it is in a more positive way.  I have the jitters.
My Little America - DAKAR, SENEGAL (with more mosques and less cars)

Recently I took a trip to Dakar, Senegal with a few other PCVs.  If you don’t know, it’s one of the most developed cities in Africa, definitely the most developed in West Africa.  I might be exaggerating when I say it felt like “little America;”  it had coffee shops, bars, giant hotels, grocery stores and a mall with a bowling alley in it.  When I heard of the mall, once again I became nervous… For the past two-years, I’ve had to either:
1. Buy fabric at the weekly market and go to the tailor to have clothes made
2. Grab something out of the Peace Corps “free pile”
3. Dig through piles of “donated clothes” sent from Toubabado (white-people land) on the side of the road.
In Dakar, I was window shopping at clothes on hangers and racks, organized by color and size – none of which I could afford, nor did I need it.
Always a Kid

The point is – I didn’t freak out.  I simply acknowledged the experience as different than I currently know, but not unfamiliar.  Before I came here, it was a family outing to go shopping on the weekends; it’s what I grew up doing.  I may have a slightly new perspective on the way of the world since being here, but the past two-years doesn’t rule out all that I knew twenty-three years before coming here.  I’m ready to come home…
Men on the Garden Development Committee - Matching Hats on Training Day!

BUT, only for six-weeks!  I still have plenty of work to do here.  I still have some things I need to learn while I’m here, about myself and about Gambian culture.  The good thing about being able to come home is that I’ll be able to step out of my Peace Corps bubble, reflect on my experiences from the outside of West Africa, and be able to appreciate even more the experience I’ve been given.  When I come back to The Gambia, I’ll know what I want to accomplish with a year left.  My motivation and creative energy will be rejuvenated.  I’ll be filled with enough love from friends and family back home to last another year. 

What I get to come back to for another year!

No comments:

Post a Comment