Sunday, July 17, 2011

Goodbye Bambey

Because it was my last morning in Bambey, I got up before sunrise yesterday to give myself some time and to enjoy the last few hours of this part of my life. I finished cleaning my room, swept one last time, packed all of my electronics away, and showered - by the time everything was ready the car that I had rented was there to pick me up. He driver was only a few minutes early but I couldn't help feeling like it was too soon. Before I go on, let me say that, regardless of the emotions I had while leaving - I am still extremely excited and ready to go home.

Back to Bambey: the driver and Miss helped me take my bags (2 suitcases, 3 rice sacks full of trash) out to the car. It was still fairly early so only the women and my host dad were awake. First I said goodbye to Aisha, Khady's mom. We were both pretty teary-eyed but we managed to keep it together for our left handshake (which, in Wolof, is symbolic that the handshake isn't "completed" or "right" so you have to go back and finish it, in other words, it's a "this isn't goodbye" sort of goodbye). Next to Aisha was my host mom and the second we made eye contact we both started crying. It might seem ridiculous but I really do feel like we're family so saying goodbye to her and not knowing if I will see her again was hard. The rest of the goodbyes with my host family were all a teary blur; my host dad offered a prayer for my safe return back and the driver set off. I feel like emotions are normally fairly mixed: you're sad yet anxious, you're angry and frustrated, etc. but yesterday morning was just sad. It was just raw, pure sad. Yes, like I said, I'm very excited to come home but I wasn't thinking about that while I was saying goodbye to what has been my home for two years.

It took about 45 minutes to get from Bambey to Alyssa's house in Thies. We loaded her bags in the car when the driver told me that we had too much baggage for what he and I had negotiated - we needed to pay him more. I LOST it and just snapped at him, "we're leaving our Senegalese families today, the people we've lived with for two years, and we don't know when we'll ever see them again and YOU'RE ASKING ME FOR MORE MONEY?!" I think my outburst scared him enough and he didn't mention it further. While Alyssa said goodbye to her host family I hid in the car - I couldn't deal with another crying Senegalese mom. After leaving Alyssa's, before leaving Thies, the driver stopped to pick something up. I got out and started taking my trash bags out of the car. The drive came and was EXTREMELY confused but we explained it to him and he decided we should wait until we were out of town to dump my trash. A few kilos out of Thies we stopped so I could get rid of the bags:



Sure I might have set some Peace Corps Volunteer's project back several years by dumping trash on the road but at least my replacement won't have to get rid of it and my host family won't go through it. After the trash dump we continued to Pout to get Jackie. This pick-up aws exactly like Alyssa's - we loaded her bags then hid from the crying families.

Once we started on the road out of Pout our normal rented sept-place became the PARTY PLACE! Alyssa popped open one of our bottles of champagne (that had been hanging out in Jackie's fridge) out the car window while Jackie pulled out special bucket/cups, decorated with American stickers, and I got an American playlist playing. We toasted to our two years and to the ridiculousness of it all. The trip into Dakar didn't take too long - just a few hours and we only got lost once.
In Dakar we grabbed burgers from the place next to the regional house and tackled the repacking of our suitcases. Alyssa and I had things to redistribute and we all had lots of things in our lockers at the regional house. Because there are several people leaving this week the house is just an explosion of bags. There's almost no room for walking because everyone has so much stuff. Add to that one of the hottest days we've had in a while and you get a slow afternoon.

Once the bags had been repacked we all just hung out in the backyard of the house where it's always the coolest. Eventually we cleaned up and went to a friend's apartment for some cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Even though the day was very emotionally overwhelming it was nice to just sit with friends and talk.

Today we're hanging out at the Peace Corps office so we have internet and because there isn't much to do in Dakar when it's raining like it is today. Later tonight we'll have some sort of celebratory dinner and then, around 2am, Alyssa, Matt, and I head to the airport for the PARTY PLANE back home.

I'm hoping to get one final blog posted tonight so keep a look out.

KO

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