Sunday, March 15, 2009
Home sweet home
Well, I arrived in Madison at 4PM on Tuesday, a very tired woman after a trip full of plane cancellations and missed connections. Sean picked me up, deposited me with my luggage at Bridget’s house where I am resting and eating good food. I finally went to the kitchen and drank water from the tap with only a little trepidation. I’m sleeping a lot!
I’m glad I went to Peru with the Peace Corps and I’m glad to be home. I am very, very tired but well with no lingering illnesses. Now that I’m home and resting, I question whether I ever could have completed 2 years in that challenging environment and occasionally wonder if asking for a site change would have enabled me to complete my service. I’m sad about coming home after only 6 months and have a feeling of loss for not having done the work I wanted to do in La Cruz.
Despite coming home early, I have a sense of gratitude for:
• Improved language skill. My 2nd day home, I went for lunch at my favorite Mexican café and the owner was astonished at my changed conversational ability.
• Wonderful friendships that reach across a 40+ year age difference as we learned together, laughed together and moaned over the tough times together.
• I got over my fear of traveling around by combi, moto, and by flagging down random cars on the Pan American highway.
• I had a hands-on experience in simple living and hope that the knowledge of how little I need to be happy stays with me the rest of my days.
• I have wonderful friendships in La Cruz and can stay connected through the wonders of e-mail and Skype.
• My host family had never known anyone from the US and now they have a friend from Wisconsin.
• The youth group leader, Henry plans to go to the municipality with my host mother to request another Peace Corps volunteer because they see the possibility for support in community development.
I’ll miss people and aspects of Peace Corps life a lot, especially
• Robyn and Sarah, good friends, smart, capable women, great support and the best people to have nearby in the north of Peru!
• My host family, especially my host mom, Sylveria who is one of the most committed community activists I’ve ever met.
• All the great people in my group, Peru 12. We had so much fun together.
• The ride from La Cruz to Tumbes in beat up old cars driving through the beautiful green rice fields full of egrets.
• The children on my street running toward me with open arms hollering for hugs from Sarita.
• The adolescents in the youth groups who were open and welcoming.
• The ocean, the beautiful, beautiful ocean. Swimming in the ocean with my host family, with my Peace Corps friends and with the children.
• The good humor of the hard working staff at Central de Salud in La Cruz.
• Hanging out on the front porch in the evenings with my host family and half the neighborhood.
• The music, dance and laughter that are so much a part of Peruvian culture.
Of course I won’t miss
• Looking at food wondering how sick I’ll get if I eat it
• Trying to sleep in a very noisy environment
• Dogs, dogs, dogs barking all night.
• 22 hour bus rides to get from La Cruz to Lima
• Flies everywhere, covering the food at the market and swarming the kitchens
• Not having water for days at a time and boiling water to drink.
• Getting sick regularly, always on the lookout for a bathroom and always with a supply of toilet paper in my pocket.
I’m keenly aware of all the support I received from family and friends through this whole time period. I couldn’t have done it without both the material support and encouragement, especially Helen who was my banker and business manager. She cheerfully gave back my checkbook this week. All the comments on my blog felt like a cheering section, especially when I felt like I was running a marathon.
One tired, retired and returned Peace Corps volunteer!
Posted by Sara at 5:12 PM