Thursday, June 16, 2011

Saying goodbye to Pudimoe

Baby and Mrs. B-- my So African family

On Tuesday, June 14, 2011, I visited my village for the last time.  Many of you know that I was supposed to complete my Peace Corps service in Aug/Sept 2011, but something happened and I had to wrap up my service quickly.  The something that happened wasn’t “very nice” and it made revisiting my village awkward.  (For those of you needing to know “the rest of the story,” just shoot me a private email and I’d be happy to give you all of the sordid details.) 

On Tuesday morning, first thing, I readied myself to ride to Pudimoe to spend one afternoon, one evening, and one morning to break down my household, pack my two bags of permitted stuff to carry home, and say goodbye to a community I’d been living with for two years. No, twelve hours is not enough time to accomplish these things.

My colleagues at Vuselela FET College

I couldn’t have done it at all if Emily Lesego, the nearest and dearest PCV to me, hadn’t come to my aid. She was an angel and bolstered me through a very difficult time.

While I was hoping to arrive in Pudimoe by 1:00 or 2:00 on Tuesday, I didn’t arrive until 3:00 and hadn’t realized how tired I would be after traveling/waiting around for 7 hours. While I had hoped to walk to the village grocer to say goodbye to my postmistress and my “grocer family,” there simply wasn’t time.

As soon as I arrived at my trailer, I threw down my suitcases and began closing down my house. Also, I began cooking what would be my last batch of chakalaka and was hoping Emily would stay for dinner. (She would do better than that—she stayed the night!) Also during this crazy, busy time, Mrs. B and her daughter Baby came by so I could give her some things to carry to the primary school for me. (The incident that sent me packing had to do with a person at the primary school, and I was not allowed to return. It broke my heart not to say farewell to the school children!)

Marina--the best cook in South Africa... She is also one of So African family

I was hoping to spend a bit of quality time with Mrs. B and Baby, and then later when her husband, Mr. B arrived, but it was just too frantic. If I were to call anyone in South Africa “my family,” it is these wonderful people. They were very loving towards me.

The B’s left; Emily and I had dinner, and then resumed the frantic packing. We packed until way past 8:00 pm. Finally, with a tiny bit of urging from Emily, we took a break to stroll around campus (my last time) and enjoy the nearly full moon. Fella, my second African dog, was happy with going for a late-night walk. It was chilly, but very nice.

I was pretty keyed up, but finally able to sleep. Fella spent his last night in my house, propped up on a comfy dog bed. He’ll have to go back to being an African dog now. He was an American dog for a few months.

Mr. K--his wife was my star student. 
I love this shot because he would never, ever smile for the camera for me.
He has a lovely smile, doesn't he? 

On Wednesday morning, Emily and I had a quick breakfast, shared out last French press of coffee, and she accompanied me to my college staff meeting where I would bid everyone goodbye.  Because my departure was so sudden, most of my colleagues were shocked and dismayed at my abrupt departure, but all posed for farewell pictures with me, which made me happy. 

It was an emotional time for me. Physically, especially while packing on Tuesday, I was having nausea and chest pounding. I was also physically trembling. I had a bit of this again on Wednesday morning, but Emily thought it more from the questionable eggs we had eaten for breakfast.  I didn’t cry at all on Tuesday, not even at telling the B’s goodbye, but began on Tuesday morning with my farewell speech with the college. I broke completely down at loading the car and telling Fella goodbye. I hated to leave him and he had experienced a nasty gash on his leg while I was in Pretoria. I hated to leave him AND he was wounded. I must leave him to the care of Mother Africa and the campus community. He was a good companion in my last months in Africa.

Goodbye Fella.
Thank you for being so good to me.

Israel--my star student and my Setswana teacher.
He's a great kid--I'll miss him.
Although he is on Facebook!  :-)

Riding out of the gate, I had to bid farewell to one of my favorite people in Africa, Tanke, one of my college’s security guards who was very kind and helpful to me.  Tanke, like many Zimbabweans, has fled his country because of the cruel leadership of  Zimbabwe.   All of the Zimbabweans I met are longing to return safely to their country when their leadership changes.

I cried all as we drove out of my village, knowing I would never see it again. It was a bittersweet time for me: I was sad at leaving but also relieved.

And I was crying still, when we dropped Emily at her house and I had to say goodbye. She’s a wonderful young woman, a fabulous Peace Corps Volunteer, and a dear friend. I could not have managed the departure without her—and likely not my two years in Africa either!

I’ll be home this time next week!

PS.  I have more photos posted to my Facebook page.  You need not be a member of Facebook to see these photos (Just click on the link):


This is Tanke, my campus's security guard.
He has a beautiful smile, although you don't see it here.
He was very good to me.

Emily Lesego and I say goodbye.
The photo is fuzzy, but I love the mood of it.

Bags packed and ready to go.
Emily says I look much too happy here!


  1. Hi has any other Peace corp volunteer taken up at Pudimoe? I have a school there that has registered on the Eco-Schools programme. See facebook - "North West Eco-Schools" for more information. I just came back from visiting them today its a 10 hour round trip so if there is someone there that can help that would be great.

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