Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Long Good-Bye

It's been almost three months since my last post. Three months during which I struggled with issues both public and private. There was no water on my side of the village during those three months, constant power outages, and despite my resolve to do things differently during the next term, no real support for programs and projects within my school. I often felt like I was taking two steps forward and one step backward--some days like I was taking one step forward and three steps backward.

When you have no water you have to buy drinking water, often in bulk, and drag it home. You have to boil the water that has been stored in the jo-jo (large plastic silo sitting next to the house) to do dishes, wash clothes, and wash yourself. Each day you face the decision of how much water to use for cooking or for washing, not knowing if there will be water again the next day. The house gets dirtier and dirtier as you don't want to waste precious water on scrubbing floors, etc, and the daily sweep doesn't always do the job. You use your 'gray water' for flushing the toilet and watch as the garden dries up. Some volunteers, and certainly many Botswana, live with this all the time. And Peace Corps is quick to remind us that we signed up to work in "hardship" conditions. Having no water and intermittent power is not really a hardship, particularly when one is a bus ride away from friends who have that and will open the door and allow you to take a shower and relax for a day or two. So why was I so exhausted all the time, and finding it harder and harder to get motivated for the projects I wanted to do?

There is a kaleidascope of reasons, all of which came into focus when I had a blood test and discovered my thyroid was out of whack. Way out of whack. It took a couple of weeks of soul-searching and the patience and support of some fellow volunteers (you know who you are) to accept the fact that I needed to be "medically separated." That is Peace Corps talk for 'you need to go home and take care of your medical issues.' I was 'separated' on Valentine's Day and although my body flew across the Atlantic in 16 hours, it is taking my consciousness a while longer to catch up.

 The decision to leave seemed like a long time coming, but when it came things moved faster than expected. Especially when one has been on "Africa time" for almost two years.

On my trip back to my village to say goodbye,  I took photos of my favorite people at school, in the village and on the bus ride. My next blog will be a portfolio of these photos.