It is difficult to sum up the last two months briefly. Our projects essentially finished when we were in Vila in early August and handed everything over to group 23. Things at the house were quiet too, folks would come over just to talk, and hang out, we did a computer class with the kindergarten teachers and helped a group of guys write a project plan. We made road trip plans and mailed things back to America. We hosted a big yard sale, getting rid of everything that wasn't returning to America with us. We packed up seashells and displayed amazing patience when host country nationals came to our house and asked for our stuff. We wrote reports for Peace Corps and dreamed of our soon-to-be American lives. We had "good-bye meals" with each of our host families and a third meal for everyone in our district. I killed a pig with an ax. We waited and counted days and then...it arrived. On September 3rd we said our last goodbye to the village and headed into Vila. It was a good feeling - sad, but not too sad, and glad too, though not too glad, some relief and some anxiety, it felt distant for sure, like we were actors in a scripted play. We both cried at different times, promised to write and had quiet moments that are difficult for me to put into words.
We spent a week in Vila finishing paperwork and then spent 5 days in Fiji. Fiji was a chance for Alex and I to be with ourselves for some time, to reflect and get ready for things to come. It was a very good plan and we are both so happy to have had the time in Fiji. We spent some time with friends in Fiji and had two days at a resort all to ourselves.
At this moment, I am sitting on the couch at Alex's parent's house as I write. We arrived in DC on Sunday morning, about 7am. We've made it! I feel like a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. Alex is out getting letters notarized and learning how to use her new telephone. I just applied for a job. So American of us, don't you think?
Peace Corps was hard. Much harder than I would have expected. And I wholeheartedly recommend the experience to most everyone. Just know - it's really hard.
Here's something I read earlier today on the Peace Corps website:
Many families and Volunteers expect many more physical hardships and deprivations than there actually are. They also expect that it will be more difficult to adjust to these hardships than it is. Most former Volunteers would confirm that one adjusts quite quickly to reading by candlelight, taking cold baths, and doing without television, washing machines, or chocolate chip cookies. The greater hardships of Peace Corps service tend to be the multiple changes Volunteers must go through. These include loneliness, periodic doubts about the value of what the Volunteer is doing, the frustration of not speaking the local language very well, and the countless little challenges involved in adjusting to how people in another culture think and behave.