Saturday, July 14, 2012

Countdown to October 12th

October 12th = Closing-of-service (COS) date.

I plan on traveling for a month or so to Turkey (Istanbul), Israel (Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem), Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, Sevilla, Tarifa), and Morocco (Tangier, Chefchaouen, Fez, Marrakech, Casablanca), so it's looking like I will be home for good around mid-November.

Can't wait!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Beginning of the End

Next week, July 10th-13th, marks my training group's COS (closing of service) conference, essentially the beginning of the end, and what we've all been working toward since we arrived in Uganda nearly two years ago.

The conference is when we receive our official departure dates (September-October) and return tickets back to Obama Land, discuss the process of readjusting back to American life, learn about the various benefits of gaining official PC status, start to think about potential job prospects after Peace Corps, and evaluate/reflect upon our service as a whole over the past two years. It is also the last time we PCV's will all be together as a group in country.

For me, it feels really bitter sweet.

On the one hand, COS felt like years away last October at our mid-service conference. There have been days, if not weeks, where I have reguarly counted down the days to COS. Without question, I look forward to reuniting with family and friends after a two-year absence. I look forward to reenjoying the luxuries (washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, hot showers, reliable internet, paved roads, flat-screen TV's) of America, certainly none of which I will ever again take for granted. I look forward to gorging on all the Chipotle, Coldstone, and home-cooked cookin' I can stomach. I look forward to the freedom of driving, the ability to drive wherever, whenever, without having to cram five people to a seat. I look forward to timeliness and structure. I look forward to tuning into NESN everyday to cheer on the Pats and Sox. I look forward to facing my unknown future head on, seeing what life has in store for me next.

On the other hand, I would be lying if I said that I wasn't scared shitless (pardon the derogatory language). I've created a life here in Uganda over the past 23 months for which I'm very comfortable and can't fathom leaving. I've formed some great friendships (of which I hope to maintain) with people whom I don't know I will ever see again. I certainly won't miss the boredom, but I will miss the freedom to do what I want where and when I want to do it. I will miss the quirks of Uganda, the "only in Uganda" and TIA moments. I will miss Nurali's delicious chicken tikka, as I imagine they will equally miss my business. I will miss the rare moments for which I feel that I truly am making a positive impact in the lives of the people of Kachumbala. I will miss my dog, who has been a loyal and loving companion. I will miss Flo, Silver, Tina, Apio, Junior, Emma, and everybody else at Kachumbala Mission, whom have seemingly become a second family to me.

Therefore, for these and many other reasons, I have mixed feelings about COS rapidly approaching next week. It feels surreal to think about where I started from so many months back to where I am and what I know now. For all the ups, downs, frustrations, euphoric moments, challenges, and successes I've had during my time here, I am grateful for having the unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience that is Peace Corps.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My Namesake

This past month, Flo, one of my best friends in the village, delivered her fifth child.

In Uganda, it is common for one to be given two names: a local/village name and a Christian name. The baby was given the Christian name Silver (after her father, the parish cook) and the local name "Apollo" (meaning development in Ateso), named after, yes, me. An honor to say the least!

I look forward to returning to Uganda in 5, 10, 15 years down the road to see how child Apollo feels about being named after a muzungu!

Baby Apollo and Mama Flo

Take 2

Posing for his namesake's camera