Thursday, September 25, 2014

I'll Remember

This Monday I left my site. It is most likely the last time I will ever see anyone from my village again. I was able to give away most of my belongings as "remembrances" to the people who helped me most. It was great to be able to give back to my village for keeping me safe for 2 years in an environment you can't always feel completely comfortable in. As I was preparing to leave, I began reflecting on my service, trying to think of all the things that will remain lasting impressions on my time here. It was an incredible experience. It was insanely stressful at times, emotional, exciting, humbling. But as I finish, the stress goes away, and what remains is the new person I've become after putting myself into job that demands so much and keeps giving.

I'll remember the bike rides in the rain, the flat tires, and the wreaks.

I'll remember the bus rides, taxis, mosquito bites, and sunburns.

I'll remember when the lights went out for days at a time. I'll remember all the cold showers and bucket baths.

I'll remember carrying water to my house every morning. I'll remember watching the sunsets every evening.

I'll remember lighting a fire for every meal.

I'll remember standing on the road for hours waiting for a ride, and the wind on my face while on the backs of trucks.

I'll remember hiding under a blanket in the back of a cargo truck to keep the dust from covering me, then riding on the top of the cab through my district.

I'll remember the sores, bumps, bruises, blisters, cuts, scrapes, and scars.

I'll remember waking up at night in Chobe National Park in Botswana, looking out and seeing yellow eyes glowing back at me.

I'll remember the letters I read over and over again from friends and family back home.

I'll remember buying fresh vegetables from my neighbors, cooking them for dinner. I'll remember picking fruit from a tree.

I'll remember letting the village children draw on the sides of my hut with charcoal.

I'll remember the first rainstorm of the season, falling asleep to thunder, listening to the insects.

I'll remember my dog Odi, and teaching her to play fetch.

I'll remember biking to town twice with Malaria, the night sweats, the aches and pains, and weight loss.

I'll remember playing pool with locals on a cardboard table with marbles and sticks.

I'll remember my friends and family that went to the other side of the world just to see me.

I'll remember learning a new language, making new friends, and all the meals I shared.

I'll remember dragging a tree through the bush to my neighbors house so he could build a workshop.

I'll remember Mama, her kittens Tata, Lala, Bagheera, and Bamboo, and they way she would meow without making noise. I'll remember waking up on cold mornings with her curled up at my feet. I'll remember when I said goodbye to Mama only to find out later she escaped from her new owner and followed me home.

I'll remember the bike wreck where my front wheel came off, fixing my bike, and hurrying home before sunset.

I'll remember campfires with friends.

I'll remember laying in my hammock, doing puzzles and reading.

I'll remember biking 120 kilometers from my hut to town one morning.

I'll remember camping on the beach for my birthday.

I'll remember seeing a friend of mine who had just lost everything she owned.

I'll remember watching movies all night when I was in town, eating homemade pizza and burgers.

I'll remember meeting a friend of mine in town, selling his shoes so he could buy food for his family.

I'll remember chasing fish around in the mud in my first fish harvest.

I'll remember playing poker with peanuts, candy, and vegetables as the chips.

I'll remember using the British words for everyday things like boot, trousers, and queue.

I'll remember the kids screaming “Muzungu!”

I'll remember the time I was in a car with 9 other adults.

I'll remember when landing in Zambia for the first time, my face pressed against the window, searching for elephants that weren't there.

I'll remember swimming out so I could be underneath Ntumbachushi Falls.

I'll remember jumping in the cold pool at a deserted hotel on our Zambezi river safari.

I'll remember teaching my neighbors how to dive in a pond.

I'll remember living my life without electricity, internet, running water, or plumbing.

I'll remember the wildfires that blocked out the afternoon sun, and lit up the night sky.

I'll remember hearing about the deaths of fellow Peace Corps Volunteers around the world.

I'll remember how books, art, and music began to take on more meaning than they ever have.

I'll remember Martin, his goofy grin, and how he always laughs like he's not supposed to, which makes him laugh even harder.

I'll remember hunting down rats and mice with my cats at night.

I'll remember our ridgeback house dog, Damnit, and how she would sit in chairs like people.

I'll remember Dorkus, the most annoying cat I've ever loved.

I'll remember all the sand in my food. I'll remember the ants in my drink.

I'll remember standing at Danger Point at Victoria Falls, not being able to see a thing.

I'll remember watching Chicken TV in my yard, discussing each chickens relationships and life events.

I'll remember saying goodbye to my neighbors, never to see them again.

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