Three months is a long time. Some short bursts of what I've experience since I last posted.
Leaving village. One of the hardest good byes of my life. Had a grand fete with presents, music, drums, and the traditional very oily rice with goat. A great way to end my service. Lots of people I worked with came and talked about our experiences together and we shared many smiles, dances, food, and good music. I left the village followed by an entourage of neighborhood children, close friends, and my family. Lots of tears, but hopefully many returns in the future!
Moving to Dakar. What a transition. Living in a hut with a hole in the ground for my toilet. Taking a bucket bath under the stars. Lighting a candle at night to read from. Children walking into and out of my hut at their own will (definitely not my own). The same lunch and supper pretty much every day. All this to Dakar. The hustle and bustle of city life. Moving to my seventh floor apartment overlooking the ocean. My apartment (no one else lives there) with no kids around or family to walk in whenever. Electricity, indoor plumbing, stove, oven, REFRIDGERATOR!! (this means cold water!). What a shock but how funny it is to just slide into your space, settling into normalcy. The first few nights were shockingly lonely but I came to adjust and am enjoying the space and cooking my own food.
With Dakar comes work. Office job. Very different from the ville. I take public transportation every day which can range from taxi (uber expensive but faster) about 30 min ride to bus (uber cheap but slower) about 1 hour and 15 min to get there not to mention the ride back. Just started getting into the groove of what i would be doing (to see some of it check out the pc senegal website... www.pcsenegal.org) in food security throughout the country. Met with some representatives of the orgs I will be collaborating with. Then hit the road for my trip to Amerik, how sweet!
Amerik...the land of good and plenty any time every time.
First stop... NYC. Good friend and I shared the same flight and I got to go spend time with his mom in NYC just outside of East Manhattan. We left the airport to get into a taxi and I started talking to the man in French...we're not in Senegal anymore, Jessica. I soon realized as we passed beautiful leaves changing colors, really nice roads, buildings that are sturdy and strong and will last many years (and some that wont) and anything you could want on any street cornor. Wow America, thanks mom for birthing me in this place! Enjoyed chocolates, cookies, bubble bath, a walk/guided tour of the neighborhood, and Times Square at night! It was fabulous! I felt pampered and welcome for my first day.
Second stop...Buffalo NY. The home of my lovely sister and her husband. Road overnight bus and arrived early in downtown buffalo to friendly faces, a warm car, and probably most importantly at that time a warm welcoming bed. It was fun seeing my sisters place, meeting her friends, seeing her life in buffalo (work, school, etc.). Got up to date on Heros (still a few discs left to watch but no worries that will be done before my return) and ate some delicious food with my fair share of goodies and desserts! Was offered my first home in Buffalo by my bro-in-law. Looking forward to moving there as soon as he coughs up the money...
Thirdish stop... the road to Chicago. What i thought would be a 7 hour road trip (thanks to the generous donation of my sisters car) turned into an 11 hour journey! I finally pulled into western suburbs of chicago for pizza, desserts yet again, and friends from college! People having babies, getting married...life changes fast when you aren't around to see it happen slowly.
Fourth... wedding in Minneapolis! Congrats to my cousin and her new hubby. Had a blast dancing the night away with my family and enjoying delicious food and drink! Also, Peace Corps decided to do a mini reunion in MN and four of us volunteers got together to catch up! Great to see them all and great to have time with my family!
Finally to Omaha with a stop at my cousins school in Ames! Motorcycle ride and huge burritos. Life was good. I stayed in Omaha 1 single night and then went to see my sister at her school in central NE!! SO much fun! I wish i was back in school. The learning, the atmosphere, the opportunities and extra-curricular activities. Sister, her friends and I had mexican food and margaritas, drank good coffee, and just chilled. Attended bell choir, choir, band and was SO SO impressed with my sisters abilities! You are so talented kaitskies!
Back to Omaha for lets hear it...2 whole days! And then to CO to see my bro, sis-in-law, and niece as well as friends! It was wonderful! We were so welcomed. Ate delicious food. Played video games and pool. Painted pottery, more good coffee, quality time with my family! Hung out with extended family. Went to boulder and saw more college friends. Had dessert every single night! Whooo what a place!
Finally here I sit in my kitchen in Omaha. We arrived this evening and I am happy to say I will stay in this general vicinity for the next two weeks! What a whirlwind but what a special couple of weeks for me. Thanks to my family and friends for welcoming me in the ways you did. Thanks for opening your homes and beds and cupboards to feed both my stomach and my soul! I appreciate you all so much and am so glad I had the time I did with you.
Looking forward...Tomorrow is TABASKI!! Happy Tabaski everyone. I will be celebrating by giving two school assemblies at my mom's elementary school. We are going to discuss Senegal and the work they did to raise so much money for the school in my village! Selling Bracelets to Making Buildings! Thanks students, teachers, and parents.
The delay of this post will hopefully not be repeated again in the future! My apologies to all who follow!
Happy Tabaski and Thanksgiving to all!