Peace Corps South Africa, you have been frustrating, terrifying, difficult, beautiful, incredible, rewarding, and life changing. In a few hours I will be picked up from the backpackers and on my way to the airport for my flight home. These past two weeks have been a whirlwind, and it still hasn’t hit me that I’m going home for good. This week, I’ve been in Pretoria running around the office getting final medical and admin clearance. There are other volunteers COS-ing as well and it’s been a big celebration. For my last week of school, the staff threw me not one, but TWO farewell parties. The first one on Monday was more of a surprise. I walk in to a classroom for a “meeting” and all of the teachers jump out of the closet and throw confetti all over me. It was amazing. They said such beautiful messages and gave me such wonderful gifts, including a learner track suit with messages written on the back.
Check out that Itekeleng swag.
The decorations the first farewell.
On Tuesday, the farewell was for learners as well as parents (including my host parents). A priest spoke as well as the chief’s spokeswoman; the former expressed his disappointment that I didn’t find a village man and the latter said that in the beginning she thought I was so small she was surprised I made it the whole two years. Thoughtful? The kids also spoke and sang and made me adorable cards that I will always treasure.
Stumbling through a thank you speech
I like to tell myself I’m good with words, but I really can’t describe how I’m feeling now that Peace Corps is over. It feels like I’m only going on a holiday but coming back after a period of time. So instead of rambling in paragraphs I’ve been making lists of what I’ll miss, not miss, what I’m looking forward to, and not looking forward to. Enjoy and see you stateside!
- My host family in Maphinik
- My host family in Makapanstad
- THE KIDS. Especially my GLOW girls, who made me so incredibly proud, and especially the two boys who live “next door,” who helped me herd goats, fight off a tarantula, and made me laugh nearly everyday.
- My room being a small oasis, but my oasis nonetheless.
- The Kuru Kuru gang, Kuru showers and Kuru karaoke
- The Khayalethu gang, pizza nights, and Livingstone’s
- SA24! The best, most optimistic, most fun group of people ever to enter South Africa.
- Northern Cape sunrises
- Northern Cape sunsets
- Northern Cape night sky
- Hugs from my host mom after a rough day
- “HEY WENA!”
- Hearing “KGALI KGAAALI” from kids and old people alike while walking in my village
- Fresh meat. As in helping (watching) your host dad slaughter a goat then having goat for lunch the next day.
- More anonymity
- Goats. Not stupid sheep, not loud donkeys, not loud chickens.
- Being spoken to in Afrikaans.
- Watching women snort tobacco in front of their children (and me)
- Boys, girls, and men peeing everywhere. Literally, everywhere.
- Watching men forcibly grab women on the street only for the women to laugh
- Worrying about water
- BAKKIE RIDES.
- Stop and goes during painfully slow road construction.
- “Mpha 5 rand”
- Watching kids drink coke more than water
- Seeing little girls in wigs and heels (I know.)
- Gospel in the morning, gospel in the taxi, gospel at the tavern in the middle of the night.
LOOKING FORWARD TO
- MY PUG, my family and friends
- Decent transport- I know there are crazies lurking in the subways but here’s hoping none of them will propose or attempt to straddle me on the way to town, blackout drunk at 8 in the morning.
- Window control in taxis and cars
- Temperature control
- Less nodding/pretending I know what’s going on
- I never want to see a bat in my room again. (I’d say the same for roaches and rats, but I’d like to live in the city so I’m trying to be realistic.)
- Salads all day every day
- Chiptole- did I even have to include it?
NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO
- No more favorable exchange rate.
- Looking like a homeless bum will not longer be acceptable.
And that’s all she wrote. Kgalalelo has left the Kalahari.