Thursday, April 12, 2012

Contracti Yatha!

"My contract is finished"

I officially finished my Peace Corps Service yesterday! I'm a free bird (free meaning unemployed) now. I got no strings on me. Tomorrow morning I'm off to Zambia!

I wanted to post pictures but the slow internet connection killed that dream, I guess you'll have to wait until I'm back on the other side.

Saying goodbye is liberating and heartbreaking.

Pretend this is me singing.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Fools!

Ok, not only am I not extending a third year but I have less than two weeks left in Malawi!

Where to begin......

About two weeks ago I was counting down the days like usual and realized I only had a week left at site before I moved out. Panic. I started packing that day and warning people that I won't be around much and that I had to go to Mulanje to say goodbye to people. So I packed up most of my stuff and hit the road to Mulanje.

I got an easy hitch into Mulanje Thursday morning two weeks ago in to the mulanje boma. I said goodbye to people I know there, post office workers, internet cafe workers, the banana guy, and the market master. The market master was so upset that I was leaving that he was complaining about not getting me a present because I didn't give him any warning that I was leaving...I told him that if he really wanted to give me a present, he should get me a free mini bus ride to Mimosa, my old site. He happily agreed and ran off. I boarded the bus, said goodbye and thank you and was on my way.

Mulanje is the same, even though I've been gone for a year now. The second I walk down the road into the village I hear people from both sides yelling, "Emma!!" I started into the village to different friends of mine saying that I was around for two days, then I was leaving and headed home. Slowly I made the rounds, the women's groups, the post office mistress and the old lady who lives across the street, my old neihbors, Spoon's, Andrew's, The Chief's, my old Landlord's house, where I saw Chuck!

Sidenote: I wanted to take tons of pictures of everyone but my battery died, then there was a two day long district blackout so I couldn't charge my camera. Se La Vie.

So I wandered around the village for two full days (I crashed at Bri's place) saying goodbye to everyone and wishing them a nice life and thank them for the nice times.

Chuck had another liter of puppies. Three of them were eaten by hyena's...there's one left. I really wish I could have taken a picture of my adorable puppie! She still cries and pees on my feet every time she sees me. The one puppie that's left is the size Chuck was when I first got her. Adorable.

On the second day, Bri joined me for my village rounds. Eventually we made it to the Group Village Headman, Duswa's, house where there was a gathering of people. My women's group sang and danced for me and gave me Chitenje, the cheif had some words, there were a couple brief speeches, then we were on our way again. Everybody who is anybody told me to send their best to my parents and Diana and my brother the pilot....consider it sent.

Saying goodbye was difficult but easier than I expected, especially seeing as I have been out of that village for a year and making an effort to stay away and off the turf of the new volunteer who has been living there since September. The only time I had a hard time saying goodbye was to Briska, my old neighbor girl who I used to get water with...then I started crying like a little baby.

After two days of goodbyes in Mimosa started two days of goodbyes in Maliera, Bri's village. Bri's village had more warning of her leaving so they put together a goodbye party for her. That Saturday Bri and I headed to limbuli to say goodbye to people we both know there. That meant delicious Indian food for lunch and then meeting for a few cold beers later in the afternoon with a bunch of cops and some friends of mine from Blantyre who also happen to be at the border to see some friends. That was fun. We got SOAKED in the rain on the way back to her house 7 km but didn't mind because we realized it would be the last time.

The next morning I tried to calm Bri down and she ran around here house trying to pack. I cleaned up the house after that while she went to put the final touches on the library she built in her village. While she did that, her village prepared for her fairwell party. Donuts! Fanta! Dance Music! Friends! It was fantastic. I have video of everything!

Then came time to say goodbye to Bri's village. That night after all the dancing and before we went to her counterpart's house for dinner (delicous chicken!) we walked around and danced a bit more with different friends of Bri's and had a great time in our last few momments together.

Leaving my old village was easy, but leaving Bri's was sobering. As much as I've moved around in the past 2 years (four houses), Bri's village has been stable. I'll miss it there. That night Bri's counterpart's entire family escorted us back to her house, where she did the final packing and we got ready for bed.

The next morning we woke up before sunrise and had tea with Bri's counterpart and his lovely wife one last time. We finished and before we knew it the bicycle taxis were there to take us to the the border so we could get the 5:30am bus from the border to Limbe. When I was in Mimosa I had borrowed and umbrella from Spoon and forgot to bring it back from her so I told her I would have the bus stop for long enough so I could pu t it on a bike taxi and have it brought to her house. I got the bus to stop briefly and went to find a bike taxi only to find Andrew waiting at the stage with three pineapples waiting to say one last goodbye. I gave him a hug (very culturally inappropriate but I couldn't help myself) then got back on the bus that quickly pulled away.

Before long we made it into Limbe with more stuff than Bri and I could carry (or should have been able to) and slowly made it to the Chiradzulu buses. We dropped her stuff at my half-packed house and headed into the Chiradzulu boma to start my 6 hour goodbye race.

We got to the boma after lunch just in time for the rain to start like crazy. After the rain died down a bit i started doing the rounds in the offices, only to find out everyone was going to a meeting. The district commissioner said I should attend the meeting to announce I was leaving. 4 hours of meeting and of course I wasn't allowd to say goodbye until the very end of it. I announced I was leaving. Right after I sat back down my office mate, Reggie, stood up and announced that they are throwing me a last-minute goodbye party. People pitched in for beer and food and then the meeting was over. I went back to the offices, made a few more goodbyes and that was that.

I should also mention that sometime in the week before Mulanje I got Giardia again. I took the medicine last week and am feeling better now.

Anyway, we had a great impromptu going away party, Bri, me, and all my friends. That night my neighbor, Hendi, made a feast for Bri and I and we passed out asleep. A rat ate my pillow. When we woke up my backpack was outside on my porch. Bri and I are still confused as to how that happened. That morning we worked on packing my house up. Eventually we got everything together and got her stuff and my stuff to the stage where we waited for a mini bus. We got LUCKY. Rather than trying to hall 4 huge bags on 3 different mini buses to get to doogles in Blantyre, a friend of mine happened to drive by, loaded all of our things in his car and dropped us at doogles where we got the staff there to bring the bags into our room. Lucky, lucky us!

We stayed in Blantyre for a few nights, some friends came down. We hung out and did Blantyre things, and before long it was time to go to Lilongwe.

Here I am! In Lilongwe. Close of Service Paperwork! Medical Checks! Pooing in Cups! Purchasing plane tickets!

Waiting for life to go on....

The end of my service has come. I take my language test tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ndawoncheza Chaka China pa Contract Yanga

"I've added another year to my contract"

April 1st today, I was supposed leave April 13th in less than two weeks. I decided I wasn't ready to go. I did an emergency application through the Peace Corps office and decided to extend for a third year.

It's been a tough decision, especially since I decided not to come home for the optional month to see my family and everyone to save myself the money (I opted to cash in the round trip ticket to and from home and keep the cash in my pocket for my post-Peace Corps experience that will happen now in May, 2013.

Watch out Malawi, I'm not leaving yet!