July 24 marked my anniversary of being "in country" (in Africa) for one year. And oh my goodness, what a year it has been. In a way I find myself thinking, "Wow, have I been here a year?" But in other ways, it feels like many lifetimes.
Most of you know that for every day of this year, I've thought about returning home. I've felt a lot of shame around this, but I had a friend of mine make the following comment: "There are two kinds of Peace Corps Volunteers: those that think about going home and those that are lying about it." I laughed at the comment and it helped me feel better. This gentleman is on his second tour of Peace Corps service, so his opinions carry twice the weight.
And I'll be the first to admit: this first year has been ROUGH. However, I'm hopeful that my second year will be happier, and there is evidence of this. Most Peace Corps volunteers have stated that their first year was challenging and that their second went much better. I'm counting on this.
I'm also making some changes to facilitate a happier second year in South Africa. I've made changes in my work schedule, I've bought a couple of magazine subscriptions (I will have a little prize in my mailbox once a month to give me something to look forward to for my remaining year), and I've decided to make better use of my Peace Corps family.
I've been asked how I get along with the other Peace Corps volunteers in my group and truth to tell, I haven't spent much time with them. We are all scattered and of various ages and, well, I have a hard time riding the public taxis and rarely want to ride them without a very good reason. (The usual reason is: mandatory attendance at a training session.) So, I'm trying to become more willing to hop on a taxi to ride out to see friends.
This past weekend I rode out to Kuruman to visit other Peace Corps friends. In the photos you will see Jonelle, Lauren, Marcia, and Justin. I spent a great weekend hanging out, catching up, and seeing beautiful, smiling, AMERICAN faces. It was great fun and staying at a posh Bed and Breakfast--the Kuru-Kuru-- never hurts either. I had a yummy "4th of July" meal of cheeseburgers, potato salad, and apple pie! YUM! And another elegant meal out of fish, salad, and a baked potato. It was the best baked potato I've had since arriving in South Africa! (They do French fries well here--they call them "chips"--but I had yet to encounter a good baked potato.)
One of the photos is of Emily and you've seen it before. She came to my house last weekend for a nice visit. We watched movies, had popcorn, and went for walks. I fed her fried eggs and cornbread. We tried to buy meat in my village's market but we were both put off enough with the selection (both from the butcher and the market's freezer case) that we returned home to yet another meal of fried eggs and cornbread. Neither of us had meat for dinner that night, but we both had a funny story to tell, about TRYING to buy meat at the village market!
I have much more room at my house for company than Emily does, and as she is the closest volunteer to me, I hope she comes often this second year to visit.
So, I'm a year in country--wow! Just 14 months to go!
PS. One photo is of the nearly-full moon at my site last night. Gorgeous, just gorgeous!