packing up and coming home

Well it happened. Two years came to an end, and I’m looking at my last 30ish hours in Tanzania.

Not going to lie, the last 3 months or so have been really tough. Or at least the first 2 months of the last 3 months – which translates into September and October. I found my patience wore thin and I thought much more often about just packing up and coming home early than I had during most of the 2 years previous. After having some conversations with other returned peace corps volunteers who are now working for USAID in Dar es Salaam, they said they understood those sentiments and thought it had to do with the process of detachment that we have to go through in order to leave a community.

So after kind of a rough 2 months, I was very glad that my last month was really quite nice. I spent a lot of time with my fellow volunteers, doing all of the things that we love to do around lushoto: hiking, eating rice and beans, cooking with each other, and telling stories and laughing.

And I had some good good-byes in my village – dinners with teachers and their families, and a farewell party given by my school. It is Tanzanian tradition that during a celebration, the person or people being celebrated feed all of their guests a bite of cake, and we did this at my going away party, which was very nice. It was wonderful and also sad to hear all of the wonderful things my school headmaster and fellow teachers had to say about my time here with them, and I told them that truly now I have a family in Tanzania and that I appreciated them very much. I will miss them incredibly, and do hope that some day I will have a chance to come back to Tanzania and see my family here again.

So, what do you want to know about what it’s like to leave a country so different from the united states after living there for 2 years? Here are a few answers to questions, but feel free to send more.

what will my cat do now?
A new volunteer is coming to my site, so he will be inheriting my cat. Luckily Askari is mostly self sufficient, since he hunts most all of his food, and spends most all of his time outside. Hopefully he will continue being nice company, or at least entertainment and keep the mice away for Nick.

what about the chickens? did we learn to live in peace, did they win, or did my rock pile get used up?
About 2 and a half months ago I realized there was no hope of getting another successful crop to grow. I counted myself lucky with the broccoli and zucchini that I got last spring, and let the chickens have their way with my back yard. Although I did continue to use them for the occasional target practice, because watching chickens run around like, well, chickens is hilarious.

what will you miss the most?
I will miss the beautiful environment, the fog settling in the valley, the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, and watching my students “get it” or listening to them ask a really good question about the topic I was teaching.

do they wear clothes there?

Yes. Often far more than we wear in America. Tanzanian dress is very conservative, especially in more rural and Muslim areas.

besides eating turkey, what will i want to do the most when i get back?
well, believe it or not, this year what I crave even more than turkey is roast beef sandwiches, so I will be eating many of those, I’m sure. Really, I can’t wait to see everyone and to feel like I’ve caught up with the world again, although I think it may be quite a while before I will really feel like that.

oh and, what do TZians think of Obama?

Most Tanzanians love Obama and are very happy that he is the next president of the US. In fact, the teachers at my school referred to him as the president of the world. I have, however heard a few Tanzanians say that McCain should have been elected. Their reasoning was that a super power needs to have a bully for a president, and McCain would have been another bully like W. Tanzanians like America, and like that America is a super power, so therefore it is good for us to have bully presidents.

anything else?

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