Saturday, May 10, 2008

Almost ready to exhale...

posted by rachel

So here we are, a little more than a month to go. We just had our Close of Service conference. It was great, talking about resumes, evaluating Peace Corps, and hanging with the group. As I traveled down to the city, I kept thinking how surreal it will feel, being at that conference. But the minute we got started, it felt deserved. Our group of 18 are all ready to go home, move on, get a job, go to school. We are not extending, or trying to hold out one more year as a PCV in another country. We are ready. I don't know why our group is so focused. Maybe its the 9 to 5 work week being a teacher, maybe its our determination, maybe its our resilience.

While eating fabulous meals, some of us realized how drained we felt. How we feel as though we are running on low. Two years living in Africa will do that, I suppose. The weekend leading up to the conference most of us went to Kartong, a beautiful beach south of the city. We slept in tree houses, grilled some burgers, and just partied without a care. I loved the beach because there was not one bumster on the beach, there was no one in fact, just your stray cow or two. The peace was refreshing and empowering.

Tomorrow Carson and I will head back to Kerewan for a mere four weeks and then its homeward bound. It is going to be hard to say goodbye to the family and the people who truly love and take care of us. But, it feels natural to being going... to be going back to our families. I know I will be able to call, but I also know that sometime down the road we will lose touch.

I worry about leaving just as the food crisis hits. A bag of rice rose 25 percent in a month. It will double not too far down the road and then only the very rich can afford it. Who knows how Gambia will handle this. Perhaps they will go back to growing their own rice, instead of relying on cheap imported rice, because now its not so cheap anymore.

I thought I would be asking myself questions like: "how do I say goodbye to all this." But I feel a sense of calm and readiness. I am not wondering how I will react or how I am supposed to feel. I remember before coming to Gambia, I was all kinds of flustered, not knowing how I should feel or what should I expect. It is quite the opposite right now. We have to pack up the house, finish up work, right a bunch of reports for Peace Corps, and say goodbye to our loved ones. There will be feelings of loss and sadness, but I know once we are on that plane home, we can exhale. It sounds so narrow and cold, but perhaps this is how I have learned to deal with such transitions.

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