On Leaving and Coming Back Again


Thrilled to have electricity (when the power doesn’t cut out), a real shower (when there’s water), and good food (mainly cheese).

Hoping my cat doesn’t run away/get eaten by dogs/starve

Writing what we’re thankful for on slips of paper. Mine are books, friends, and cheese. Of course.

Hitching with a man from Zimbabwe who listens to Lionel Richie.

Excited and nervous to see friends after three months apart.

Everyone getting sick because of the good food (mainly cheese).

Overwhelmed by all the Americans, by their loudness, but also by my love for them.

Speaking Bemba to every cashier in Lusaka because I miss it.

Swimming in a pool for the first time in ages and feeling free.

Having a three hour conversation with Zambian teachers about the politics of the word “muzungu” and the importance of greetings.

Yearning for the routine of the village. Scared to go back to the routine of the village.

Learning that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia is more complex than I had thought.

Wondering if the women’s group is meeting while I’m gone. Probably not.

Eating Thai food and Indian food and Lebanese food and pizza and gelato.

Realizing that all Peace Corps volunteers talk about is sex, food, and poop.

Spending the night in a castle and finding out quickly that the bed is covered with bugs.

Traveling to Malawi in a canter with 25 people and inevitably getting stuck in the mud.

Listening to my iPod and remembering that as a friend once told me, music can make you feel at home wherever you are in the world.

Skinny dipping in the lake on our last night.

Thinking about going back to the village and only being able to wear shorts in my house.

Going to a terrible party that to my surprise is too hippie.

Not so inconspicuously standing next to the lodge owner in a group, knowing that this close proximity means free cocktails.

The bus breaking down on the side of the highway. Days later the taxi also runs out of gas.

Seeing elephants, leopards, giraffes, and monkeys up close, not in a zoo. The monkey steals our toast.

Anxious thinking about the phone anxiety I’ll have when I only have solar power again.

Spending my first Christmas without family in a village with friends, eating cheese, drinking wine, and witnessing traditional (and sometimes violent) dancing.

Looking forward to going back to the village. Nervous to go back to the village.

Meeting Esther, our Zambian saint lady, who saved us from the swarm of taxi driver harassment.

Hitching with Simon, having a frank conversation about gay marriage and abortion, disagreeing about everything, respectfully, stopping for pizza along the way.

Arriving at the provincial house, reuniting with my laptop after 5 weeks of travel and watching the entire second season of Homeland in a day.

My host mom calling and putting all the kids on the phone.

Being motivated by that call and slowly becoming more ready to go back to the village and get to work.

7 months down, 20 to go….