Well hello there. I have been back in the US now for about 6weeks and haven’t put up a final blog post. So here I go. My last couple months at site were great. It was very difficult saying good bye to all the people that had not only become my new friends but family as well. I made a painting where I had all my kids come into my house, after washing their hands, and trace their handprint on a piece of plywood that I had written the hand-washing song on. They then painted their handprint with one of the many colors I had. I am so happy I got this finished. It will be something that will be in my village and they can remember me by. It was hard saying good bye to my friends in the cities that I would visit to buy all my food and other necessities. Lots of tears were shed and lots of final laughs were had. I am so grateful for my two years spent in my village and all the people whose lives have touched mine and hopefully whose lives were touched by my two year stay. I had two PCVs, Raff and Brian, come stay at my house the last couple nights to help me get all my stuff together and just help keep my sanity. It was very stressful and sad and they did a fabulous job at keeping me as calm as possible and always laffing. I am forever grateful and thankful for everything they did those last few days. On my final day, MBG had their yearly celebration of the coming of the organization to Mahabo and I tied in a farewell for myself as well. There were a bunch of speeches including one by yours truly and dancing and music along with food and beverages all day long. I had 12 of my closest PCVs come down to help support me which was clearly necessary. I would go out and mingle with everyone and have to go back to the hut and cry and repeat all day. The PCVs helped with all the hugs, tears, and laffs that were provided for me all day long. One of my favorite memories from this day was one PCV bought a bunch of cookies and had myself and 2 other PCVs hand them out. The kids go WILD for these and were all grabbing for them and kept asking for more and more and more. But in the middle of handing out a package I looked up to see one of the other PCVs running from all the children that just attacked her for the cookies. I couldn’t stop laffing as she was running from one side of the compound to the other. It was so fun and so sad but exactly what I pictured and needed for closure. I left my village with the kids saying “bye bye” and felt so great about the last two years of my life spent there in that village. I will miss them dearly but no one can ever take away those memories that were formed while there and I will carry them with me in my daily life.
I was lucky enough and able to fly back with 2 other PCVs…Sara Tolliver and Aaron Acosta. We flew to Paris then to Chicago, where we all went our separate ways. Of course, to be expected, all 6 of our checked bags were left in Paris, which for me was no biggie becuz that meant less to carry and nothing to go thru customs with and I got mine the day after and Sara and Aaron ended up getting theirs as well, eventually. I had been doing ok with no crying when I left the Peace Corps house where I said good bye to fellow PCVs and made it all the way to Chicago. Well Aaron’s family came to meet him there and as soon as I saw him hug his dad, the tears were a flowing. It was very emotional to see him see his family for the first time in 2 years. We all hugged and parted for I had a gate to find. I found it and had time to spare so I went to exchange some Euros that I had acquired and stopped to get a good beer. I sat down and this woman asked me where I was coming from. She said people with their hair like mine, it was all braided, were usually coming from some far away place. I smiled and told her Madagascar. She was very kind and we talked about traveling, she herself was well traveled. It was a nice conversation and good company. Well the hour long flight from Chicago to LaCrosse went by so fast. It was some of the first sleep I had gotten out of the 21hr flight. I think I slept the whole way. Getting off the plane, I knew it was going to be emotional to see my family. I walked off the plane and had to step aside before entering the airport to take a few deep breaths. I could see my cousins and aunts holding “Welcome Home” signs and cheering and clapping. Oh man before I was even thru those doors I was crying. My sister came running over and hugged me with tears and then my mom and dad and everyone else. It still brings tears to my eyes thinking of that moment. Even though it went by fast it felt like a lifetime since I had been hugged by my family and it felt great.
Who knew but American Airlines fed me so much I couldn’t go get the nachos that I had wanted becuz I was still so full but we did make a stop and had the best bloodies in LaCrosse at Del’s bar. Don’t worry we picked up my older sister from the train station the next day and had them for lunch. I was pretty jet lagged for the first couple weeks and stressed with the holidays but it was so great to see all my family and I’ve been able to visit with many of my friends already including a great afternoon spent with my bffs Colleen and Dave who were in the area from Oregon and Texas. Mainly life has been uneventful but it’s just what I needed to readjust. I’ve kept in contact with some of the other RPCVs from my group and talked to my close PCVs that are still in Mada over the holidays. We had a conference call last night that I like to call “comfort call” with 5 other RPCVs from my group all on the line at the same time. It was great. But yes I think this may be my last entry. But thank you for being a friend and coming along for the ride. Take care!