Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Close of Service

Last week we had our COS (Close of Service) Conference in St. Lucia. It is hard to believe that this journey is almost finished.  I do not really know where the last two years went.  Again, they have been a whirlwind.
Mentally, I was not at COS at all.  I am not ready to pack up and go back. I refrain from saying ‘home’ because where is home now a days anyways?  For the last two years it was a small village in the heart of the valley on a tiny island, for the five and a half years prior to that it was in West Philadelphia.  And who knows where I will land once I embark on my next journey, whatever that may be? 
The notion that this journey will end in just 2.5 months brings a lot of thoughts to mind.  First and foremost, I am not ready to leave.  I still have too much I want to do here.  There are projects that will not be wrapped up by then. There are things I still haven’t done or seen.  2.5 months is not enough time to wrap up everything and leave feeling fulfilled.  Leaving will be abrupt, and I will always feel like I have unfinished business. Even though my Peace Corps assignment has been quite challenging, personally, I want to see it thru to the end. For these reasons, and others, I have decided to extend my service.
However, most of my fellow PCVs are ready to get the F out. This Peace Corps life can take a toll and most are ready to get back, make some money, and leave this life behind. That’s not to say that important life lessons and perspectives will be left behind. As Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), some things will never leave us.
The week focused on discussing our accomplishments and preparing for post Peace Corps life-resumes, job resources, grad school, and readjusting to life back in the USA.  We spent a lot of time in circles talking about feelings, sharing experiences and documenting our numerous achievements, feats, and even some defeats.
I made it!
My take away from COS was that I need to start getting focused about post Peace Corps job hunting.  I sure will be happy to use the left side of my brain again! And that I need to start wrapping things up because time flies by and my extension will be finished sooner than I realize.
Below is my tentative PC/SVG Bucket List:
·     Travel the Grenadines
·     Attend Barroualie Fish Fest
·  Hike the Vermont Nature Trail when there is NOT a tropical storm      approaching
·     Go fishing in the river for lobsters
·     Go Sailing
·     Go to the Falls of Balliene
·     Hike to Trinity Falls
·     Lay on the white sands of Buccament Bay Resort
·        Eat as many local fruits/veggies as possible

·     etc.

Oh and this happened at COS:


Whirlwind: noun
a column of air moving rapidly around and around in a cylindrical or funnel shape.
• used in similes and metaphors to describe a very energetic or tumultuous person or process: a whirlwind of activity [as adj.]: a whirlwind romance.

That is the only word to describe the month of December and the culmination of the year.
December was so packed full of events, celebrations, food, drink, and fun. I didn’t spend much time at home, let alone to sit down are write a blog post.
I will give you the cliff notes version of December, which included the end of the school term, Nine Mornings, Christmas, Boxing Day and Old Years.
School ended about mid December with a Christmas Concert with performances by none other than CP Hall, the MOE officer and Calypso Monarch, just in time for Nine Mornings Celebrations to start.
Nine mornings is a fun street festival the nine mornings leading up to Christmas Day.  There are different activities, concerts, performances, contests, etc. starting at 4am and ending around the start of the workday.
The immediate days leading up to Christmas were quite busy touring the island in a rented car! We went to Fort Charlotte, the Botanical Gardens, Rawacou Salt Pond, Owia Salt Pond, Fancy, Georgetown, Mt Wynne, and everywhere in between.  We literally went from one end of the island to the other and back a few times. How amazing having a car and the freedom and independence that comes with it is! Christmas and Boxing Day were spent eating tons of ham, yes ham, pork, chicken, turkey, lobster, you name it, I probably ate it. And drinking lots of drinks.  After all, that’s what Christmas is about in SVG; family, food, fun and drinks. Can’t forget the drinks.
Next up was Old Years, which I spent in Bequia. Another whirlwind day/night.  We took the ferry down in the morning, relaxed on the beach all after noon, partied all night, took a half hour nap on the beach, and caught the ferry back to the mainland.
Sure it may not sound so whirlwind-esq, but let me tell you, it was :-)

Pics can be found here!

And just as December was a whirlwind, so too was the entire 2012 year. Alot of ups and alot of downs. Here is a picture montage of highlights from the year:
Valaries Peace Corps Newsletter #5