It is difficult for me to remember what I was thinking a year ago. Foreign feelings overwhelmed me as I said numerous farewells, worked the last of my days at Craig Hospital, packed my life into two bags, and hugged my parents knowing it would be sometime before we would embrace each other again. This year has been one of unknown and unexpected. While I have chosen the non-conventional in life, home, and journey 2012 has provided the unconventional in lessons and memories.
January, New Years was a night to remember and forget with Taylor’s infamous “lost” wallet. I had a farewell party with family and friends. I boarded a plan to Philly and met 32 new friends and joined the Peace Corps. Officially in Guyana, South America I swam in the black water and discovered the addictive roti.
February, I moved in with my amazing host mother on Middle Street. Learned to kill mosquitoes, kicked in a door, and cried a few tears as trivial challenges overwhelmed me. I celebrated Mash and explored Vreed-En-Hoop. Peace Corps training tested my patience at times, as did the itch of bug bites and the beads of sweat rolling down my neck, arms, legs, and toes.
March rolled around and I celebrated Phagwah, throwing colored powdered and water in the air and letting the cares of the world escape me. I said goodbye to a childhood companion Cordelia, as she passed away in her own time and way. And I was given my site assignment of Linden, Guyana.
April, I stuffed my bags in the back of a minibus with two other volunteers and started my journey as an official Peace Corps Volunteer. Unsure of I was supposed to be doing and even what people were saying to me (oh Guyanese Creolese). But I was excited, ambitious and ready for what Guyana had to offer.
May, I was settling into the routine of Linden. I knew where the market was, I bought a bike, I had friends around town, and things were overall good. Challenges were there, but I was happy. Then I got my first unexpected of 2012 – I got sick. Gallstones.
June, I boarded a plane to Panama and prepared myself for an inevitable surgery. It was a challenging month, with lots of tests, doctors, and emotions (mostly in Spanish as well). I made some great friends who helped me through the rough moments. May parents were there 24/7 via Skype through the tears, pain, and recovery. At the end of it I was healthy, which is all that matters.
July, started with a detour to a Panama beach and watching the waves crash into the sand under the stars and celebrating with my Panama PCVS. I then found my way back to Guyana and Linden, just to leave again and watch as the town I had come to call home fell into unrest. Week after week left me unsure of what my Peace Corps future would hold. A return to Linden was looking dim, and my life as a volunteer slowly slipped away.
August, this was a month a change. A month where I recognized that things were not working, due to circumstances out of everyone’s control. After much reflection, many conversations, and countless tears it was decided I was leaving Guyana. A bittersweet decision, but none the less the right choice for me. Bags packed I headed back to Colorado.
Fortunately, this wasn’t the end of my Peace Corps journey and after two weeks at home I found myself on a plane to Fiji with 25 amazing people embarking on an adventure on an island in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. In September, I learned to say, “Bula vinaka.” I moved in with my Fiji family in Sawakasa Dua and I got a fresh start to my Peace Corps life.
October, I learned everything Fiji. Grog drinking. Meke. How to walk in a sulu jaba. I spent countless hours sitting on a straw mat on the floor laughing, sweating, and being exhausted. The month ended on a challenging note, with me yet again getting sick, but nothing a couple bags of IV antibiotics couldn’t take care of!
November, I was sworn in as a Peace Corps Fiji volunteer, and packed my bags and boxes to move to my new home. I loaded three boxes, three bags, a mattress, and a tin box onto the ferry and crossed the waters between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Arriving in Nabouwalu the adventure began…
December, I traveled far in wide in a pickup truck around the state of Bua. I experienced my first cyclone. I had a Fijian Christmas. And ended 2012 with an EPIC hike in the hills above Nabouwalu overlooking what it my new amazing home – Fiji!