Monday, October 1, 2012

On Top Of The World


This past week the Moz15 PCV’s celebrated two years of service and I officially started counting down to my COS date (46 days from today!). It’s been two years since I received my big blue invitation packet and learned I’d be going to Mozambique, two years since I frantically packed those infamous 80lb bags, two years since I said tearful goodbyes to my family at DIA and two years since I landed in Africa with a group of strangers that would quickly become some of the most important people in my life. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and those few expectations still floating around in my mind were quickly shattered. I took it one day at a time and eventually found a rhythm and a way to deal with the changes being thrown at me. I dealt with the dramas of my host family, found my niche within our group of volunteers and prepared myself to move to what would be my home for the next two years. I unwittingly allowed myself to make predictions about where I was headed and was of course completely overwhelmed upon arriving in Dombe. Our house wasn’t even close to being ready, the temp place was real small, real hot and had been invaded by various large and creepy creatures, the neighborhood had cleared out for the summer ferias and oh yea, there was no energy. But Mona and I powered through with only a few breakdowns and eventually our house was built and we were able to really settle in for the long haul. And then last week I woke up in my little breadbox of a house and two years had passed. I honestly have no idea where those years went! I have had incredible adventures, learned a new language and discovered I am capable of so much more than I thought. In the grand scheme of things two years isn’t all that much but my time here in Moz had changed me in such a way that these may be two of the most important years I’ll ever experience.
Moz15 - two years later

So now, as I rapidly approach the end of my Peace Corps service, I am a mess of emotions and reflections. Most people reading this know that I tend to be incredibly private with the emotions and thoughts rattling around in my head but this experience has taught me (often out of necessity) that sometimes things simply need to be said out loud or put down on paper. I’ve learned that I can’t always work everything out on my own and since I am amongst a group of 59 other people about to go through the same major life change, I’ve gotten better at sharing my thoughts.

The transition I am preparing to make is unlike anything I’ve ever done. Sure, I left Colorado for college, then left that home in North Carolina for grad school in Maine, went back to NC for a bit and then left it all behind to come to Africa. But the difference is that with those moves I was venturing out into the “unknown”. So while I was sad to be leaving the familiarities behind I was excited to jump into something new and different. This time I know exactly what I’m leaving behind and what I’m headed towards. I am ready for something different but at the same time I can’t imagine leaving my life here. The Dombe isn’t exactly the easiest place to live and it will be nice to have a few more of those basic comforts but my life here is so simple. After I’ve been traveling for a while or have been dealing with frustrating public transportation, I know I’ll be returning to Dombe where I can simply sit, relax and rejuvenate. I teach just two days a week and have plenty of time to sleep, read and spend time with my friends. Simply traveling to my provincial capital can be an adventure and I meet so many wonderfully kind people everywhere I go. I can make a last minute trip to the coast and sit on the beach with a beer with absolutely nothing to worry about except where I might eat that night. I have so much freedom and I don’t know if I’m ready to give that up.

But then I know I’m going back to another home full of family and old friends, concerts and football games, four distinct seasons and the resources to make myself comfortable no matter the weather. I’ll have the opportunity to find a job within my chosen field or go back to school. I’m going to see the many babies my friends have popped out over the past years and be present for my future niece or nephew’s first days. I can have a fountain diet coke or Chipotle burrito anytime I want and travel on my own schedule, stopping when and where it suits me. I will live in a house in which I can sleep, shower, cook, do laundry and relax without going outside and be able to buy perishable items and put them in a fridge. Going back to Americaland means returning to a world of convenience and comfort but also to a place of constant activity, action and stress. I’ll have to get a “real” job with a firm schedule, deal with traffic, worry about health insurance and pay bills. I’m not sure it’s a lifestyle I'm ready to return to.

So, where is my head right now? That’s a question I ask myself each day in an attempt to focus my energy. I’m going to be leaving Mozambique is 46 days and I want to enjoy every second I have left here. Because in 46 days I won’t be able to walk up the little path to visit with Cecilia and play with Veronica or cross the road to buy bananas from the women in front of the mission. Going to work won’t involve walking 500 meters from my door to the school or controlling a classroom in Portuguese. I won’t spend my weekends away in Chimoio or Tofo or Tete and buying produce will never again be so cheap. But I’ll be going back to the States with a new appreciation for those simple pleasures and an outlook on life shaped by two years in one of the poorest countries on the planet. So while my emotions are a bit of a mess at the moment, I’ve decided to live the life I have right now and go back to the mindset I had when I first arrived and just take it one day at a time.
On Top Of The World - Imagine Dragons (I just found this song the other day and but the words are perfect)


  1. yes; i read this within 3 minutes of you posting it. I know the transition is going to be tough; a struggle at times. I havent spent 2 years in the remote dombe and sometimes even i get super overwhelmed and close to breakdown when i go to our local mall, so i know your transition in 46 days will be crazy. but i cant wait to only be a phone call/plane ride/car ride(?!) away and will do anything i can to help make it a bit easier on you. love you Em~

  2. Thank you so much for this wonderful post. I enjoy reading every one even tho' I always get "teary" AND I am always impressed with your ability to tell your story. I so hope you will keep writing when you get home and can't wait to see you in Athens! Love, Mom

  3. I only needed a few moments to know what to say here.

    First, as I tell folks you are returning, most note that I "swell with pride" about all you have done, and become; that IS true.

    I had not thought Skype would be available to us so, while I know just how far away you are, Skype has allowed the distance to "shrink a bit." Now I can anticipate seeing you in person - that's gonna be so cool!

    Athens first, and then back to CO! I'll cont days with you!

    Love, Dad

  4. I have been thinking about you a lot lately and the idea that you are ending this adventure in your life and heading back here to the states to plan and begin a new adventure. I asked for prayers for you in church yesterday as you end your time there and head back home and face all the emotions and stresses of this change in your life, before reading this.

    I have SO enjoyed your posts during this time and agree with your Mom - I hope you will continue to write as you do have a gift.

    Love you much!