Finetastic Adventures

Saturday, August 09, 2008

PCVs no longer

Well, the time has finally come.  Over two years ago we landed in South Africa, not knowing where we would end up living and what we would be doing.  Now we leave this country, not knowing where we will end up living or what we will be doing.  Funny how some things never change!  The one thing we can count on is that no matter where we do live, English will be the primary language!


It's been an amazing time.  Sometimes it seems as though our service here has been for naught, but when writing down on paper our accomplishments, the list is surprisingly long.  Most of these we have written about in previous blogs; suffice it to say, there is much more we had hoped to get done.  But we leave behind co-workers who will hopefully continue using some of the skills we have taught them.  And a library for the OVCs.  And a promising position of a volunteer bicycle co-coordinator for Polokwane.  And, and, and.  So we know we ought not to kick ourselves too much; besides, when it came to fulfilling Peace Corps objectives 2 and 3 (see previous blogs for those) we know we leave here as successful volunteers.


Our last week at site was very busy.  We spent the last weekend with Beth and Leketi, and Joanna and Rob and 1 year old Roscoe at a wonderful cabin in the mountains near Venda just over an hour from home.  The cabin was built around a large boulder, had no electricity, and wonderful views (even a great loo with a view).  We hiked both days and enjoyed the incredible night sky with no ambient light to interfere. We cooked a turkey and baked bread in the outdoor charcoal oven, and enjoyed a delicious thanksgiving meal with our friends to whom we had to say goodbye.


The week was busy with cleaning out drawers at work and showing coworkers things for the last time.  We were given a farewell party one afternoon and were treated to touching songs by the Reakgona choir and traditional dancing by some other clients.  We were pleasantly surprised that there was almost no prayer.  The afternoon was followed by a feast, and then Dave and I were at our supervisors' house for dinner and another farewell by everyone who lived on our plot.


I donated blood for the last time and turned in my library card.  We had gathered several bags of clothes and household items to give away, mostly ours but also from Steph and Beth.  A coworker drove us to the poorest area of town, where another coworker lives and we had made arrangements for the give-away.  Within 10 minutes of our arrival at the appointed time, every item had been claimed.  We limited each person to 1-2 items, and it was wonderful to see everyone walk away happy.


As promised to Trek when we were given our bicycles, we each found a deserving person to whom to donate them.  On Thursday afternoon we met each of them at the local bike shop and turned them over.  A young man from Beulah Children's Shelter received Dave's bike; he is going to school to learn to be a mechanic and will use it to get back and forth to school in Seshego.  I gave mine to a man who rides from Seshego to Flora Park (over 15-20 km) to sell ice cream from his bicycle; he had been riding an old beat up bike.


Last Sunday we closed up our wonderful little house in Dalmada and took the kombi to town for the last time.  The bus ride to Pretoria was uneventful, as always hoped for. This last week has been full of the logistics of COS (close of service) for Peace Corps.  We completed our medical and administrative requirements and exit interviews.  Fortunately only 4 of us were COSing this week, so we weren't inundated with goodbyes.  We were able to spend some quality time with a few volunteers with whom we have been close.


I don't think it's really hit us yet that we are leaving; I am not sure when this will happen.  Though our time here has been challenging in many ways, we are also sad to leave.  After living here for two years, this feels like home.   But on Sunday  (tomorrow) we fly out with one loaded backpack each to begin our post PC travels.  For the next few weeks we plan to visit Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Rwanda.  I don't know how available internet cafes will be, but we'll try to post a blog or two during that time.  If not then, it will have to wait until we get back to the US.  Until then, 'sala ga botse' (stay well).  And from you, we hear your 'sepela ga botse' (go well).

"Ubuntu ungamntu ngabanye abantu"
"People are people through other people"
Xhosa proverb


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