Saying Goodbye

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Yesterday was an extremely long day. I arrived in Wenchi in the morning and I felt like a fugitive. I sidled down in my seat and kept my head down. We got to my house and we were greeted by my counterpart. It was so great to see him poke his head out of the door. I walked inside and was greeted with open arms by my Ghanaian mom. She was so happy to see me. Everyone was telling me how much they missed me. My counterpart was also happy to see me, but I could tell he was still fuming underneath.  I go to unlock my door and I look inside.

My best friend Richie had packed my entire house for me and it was all sitting waiting to be loaded into the car. It was such a relief to not have to worry about packing everything in addition to moving it. Honestly, how many people do you know would go out of their way to pack their friends house for them? That’s true friendship right there. I know that Richie and I are going to remain great friends for many, many, many years. My counterpart and the Peace Corps driver, begin the fun process of stuffing my many belongings into the car. And I mean stuffing. I didn’t know I had so much stuff! Okay, yes I did. A little. Lucky for me, most of it won’t be returning to America with me. I really should have anticipated this given my last move took a Budget truck and it was full too. Really, most of my belongings are furniture, big heavy furniture pieces. That’s how I roll. Ghana was no exception. I had a wardrobe, bookcase, and two tables made. We couldn’t fit everything in the car the first go around, so we had to make two trips. Ugh. The only thing left we needed to pick up was my fridge, the bookcase, and my chair cushions.

So while the men lifted the heavy stuff, I talked to my Ghanaian dad. He was wearing the shirt I bought for him. That meant so much to me. It was like a sign of solidarity, he’s got my back, and I’ve got his. I talked to my mom too and I still can’t believe how much English she has learnt from me. It was incredible. When I moved in a year ago, she couldn’t understand a word I said. Now she is using euphemisms and slang! She truly is a funny woman and I love when she cracks a joke in English. It was so hard saying goodbye to them, I promised to come back and visit them. I have to, they are my family now. As we left Wenchi to haul the first load to my friend’s house in my new town, my family came up to the window to wave goodbye. I know I will see them again, but my heart just broke into pieces.

We drove to my new town and unloaded the car at my friend’s house. He is kindly letting me store my stuff there until I find a new house in the same town. We went to go look at a potential house, but unfortunately the house is extremely far from a road. It was a good 10 minute drive to the house in a private vehicle. That means it would be at least a 30 minute to 1 hour walk every time I needed to get anything. Considering the office I will be working at some days is on the complete other side of town, it just was too far away. I’ve tried riding a bike in this country, but it didn’t exactly work out well for me. The house was amazing though, it would be a real dream to live there, but just not practical.

We headed back to Wenchi for round two of picking up my crap. We got there and loaded my fridge, bookcase, and foam cushions into the car. Somehow one foam cushion didn’t make it, I don’t know what happened to it honestly. And at this point I don’t care. My sister Esther was there and I talked with her as the driver tied down my stuff on top of the car. My sister gave me a big hug and I choked back tears as I said goodbye to my dear friend and sister, not knowing the next time I will see her. As we are driving down my street for the last time, I see a little girl in a green school uniform holding hands and running with her friend. I tell the driver to stop. I race out of the car and run over to Bene. I give her a big hug and tell her not to miss me too much. I tell her I’ll be back. I tell her to learn some damn English already. As I let her go she looked at me confused and scared. I ran back to the car and watched as she scattered away with her friend, she didn’t look back.

I ran to my tailors to pick up some of my stuff from there and then we went for some banku. I couldn’t help it, I couldn’t leave Wenchi without eating banku and groundnut soup again. They gave me a giant chicken breast and a heap of soup. I’m going to sorely miss my favorite banku bar, that place is the only reason I haven’t starved to death. I scarfed down my banku and we hit the road again. We made it back to my new town and I went to ask about the other possible house. Turns out the guy sold it the day before. Bummer. It was a good location and I would have liked living there. To make matters worse, the Union starts calling me asking me for the keys to my house. I never once told them I was even leaving. Did I leave the bed? Did I leave the mattress? Did I take the pots and pans they gifted me? They keep calling me relentlessly. They have never apologized. They have never accepted any guilt. They just want their crap back. It was like rubbing salt in a wound.

So now I’m back to square one. I’m homeless in Africa. I’ve been through a whirlwind of emotions and fears in the past few weeks. Never in my life did I think at some point I would be without a place to live in Africa. I’ve called all the leads I could possibly think of and I have the cavalry out looking for a place for me to live in my new town.

But I have to tell you, it isn’t easy. It isn’t easy leaving your home. It isn’t easy tackling the idea of starting over again. I struggle every day with a gamut of emotions. It doesn’t help that all the stress is shutting down my body’s immune system. I keep getting sick, just small things. Today it is a chest cold. Last week it was a migraine. Some days I just wish I could go back to normal; go back to a regular life in America.

But then I remember, this is Peace Corps. It isn’t supposed to be easy. It is supposed to be hard. It is supposed to test you. It is a two year challenge of endurance, perseverance, determination, and initiative. The things you learn as a Peace Corps Volunteer are immeasurable. There is no better way to discover yourself than to test your limits. So when I feel overwhelmed, stressed, and just plain shitty – I remember I signed up for this. I knew this was coming. Hell I even enjoy it.

Plus, I can’t wait for my first interview after my service. I just hope they ask me: “so tell me about a challenge you faced and how you overcame it.”

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2 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye

  1. I was homeless in Kiev for a while- after I had to get a site transfer due to some safety issues that came up at my old site. Hang in there it gets better and yes one of the benefits of this mess is- you’ll have so much to say at your COS interview!

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