Alas, the time has come: The time when I write my last blog as a Peace Corps Volunteer. When (I feel) I should be deep and insightful and really understand the lessons I learned over the past two years of my life. It’s a little harder to do it that way because of the circumstances my service is ending under. However, I was close to the end and definitely appreciate all the time I did have there.
The last couple of weeks here in the US have been a time of adjusting. This country is so big and unfriendly. It’s fast paced beyond any reason and the things we have here are absolutely, 100% ridiculous. At the same time, I love driving in my car, being anonymous and not having to be under lock and key come sundown.
I’m still upset that we had to leave. It brought me to tears again a few days ago. It’s entirely unfair that we can just up and leave. I gave my word to the people to be there for two years and we’ve both been robbed of nearly four months of time. (I like starting every sentence with “I”.) Left behind in Honduras are my friends and family. Left undone and unfinished are projects that could have made a huge difference in many people’s lives. Not just my own, but those of 157 other volunteers.
However, it is what it is and I’m dealing with all the associated emotions. There are good days and there are bad. The Lord has blessed me with a short-term job working at a non-profit I volunteered at before leaving for Honduras. It will be a great opportunity to get good work experience and even better to earn and save some money. Getting into a “normal” 9-5 will help me pass the time and not be so bored. The plus side is I love the work this agency does! I’m also applying for jobs with the Peace Corps (stateside) and other non-profits. I’ll go to grad school for my Master’s eventually – once I figure out what I really need it in. Maybe I’ll learn I don’t need it! Once I’ve accumulated enough savings to start my next adventure and still be responsible for my debt, then I’ll be on the go again. That’s one definite lesson I learned – I cannot do normal!
So, now comes the part when I’ve got to reflect and say ok, “What did the last two years teach me?” This is really off the cuff and by no means all inclusive, so let’s see what I’m thinking…
I learned that I am a chameleon. Eat like the locals, live like the locals, talk like the locals, sympathize with them and at times even empathize with them. I wouldn’t think twice before throwing myself into the unknown again.
Patience IS a virtue. I spent a ton of time waiting over the past two years of my life. Each time I was forced to wait just made me more patient.
Home is where the heart is – not a physical address. My heart knows three homes now. No matter where I am I can build a home and create a family. I’ll never be alone because my heart is so full.
As an American I need to do a lot of good. It’s so easy to lead a mundane life here and get caught up in the “American Dream.” I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to educate myself both traditionally and non-traditionally. I honestly feel it is my calling to “pay it forward.” I get so much happiness out of helping people and that’s what I want my life to be about. My life will be better when I’m helping others help themselves.
I’ve got oodles of confidence! In terms of self confidence I’m a completely different person now than when I left two years ago. I’m more confident in marketing myself in the job market. The experiences of the Peace Corps make me an amazing candidate and I will bring amazing ideas and fresh perspectives to any work place. I’m even confident in my appearance! Two years being the target of men’s off handed compliments (that annoyed the heck out of me) actually made me realize, “Yah, I am pretty darn good looking.” Now, don’t think I’m conceited. I’m still a woman at the end of the day and will always fret over silly things. But 9 days out of 10, I feel darn good about myself.
Perhaps, the most important thing I learned is this: Honduras is a beautiful country inside and out. From evergreen pine forests covering the towering mountains reaching heavenward to the cumulus cloud filled sky, to the island paradise with white sand beaches and crystal blue water – you will see some of the most amazing natural beauty in Honduras. Los Catrachos (what Hondurans refer to themselves as) will go above and beyond to welcome a stranger into their land. The poorest of people will make the most immaculate feast their meager ingredients can muster and serve it to you at their plastic table with fancy place mat and piping hot coffee, just to say, “Welcome to my home.” A young boy will carry your 50 lb. suitcase four blocks from the bus stop to the house down the pot hole filled dirt road. Your friend’s family will invite you to their coffee farm on Sunday – a day typically spent with family in Honduras – because they know you don’t have your own family to be with. Your landlady will feed your cat for weeks while you travel. Small neighbor children will bring you fresh fruit off the tree from their backyard. A work counterpart will drive you two hours to the airport and decline taking gas money when offered him. Young girls will treat you like the hottest pop star because you took time to teach them a class for 12 weeks. And the list goes on! I saw no lack of generosity from a people that are supposedly needy. It’s a terrible shame the rotten few are giving the country a bad wrap. I encourage you, nay – dare you to go beyond what you read in the news and go see for yourself what an amazing country Honduras is.
So, this is the end. My 27 months became 23 and I spent the last one living in the US. It has happened for a reason. My Peace Corps Volunteer experience may end today, but tomorrow begins the rest of my life as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. I can forever share my love, knowledge and experience of Honduras with the world. What a blessing! Thank you all for reading and following my adventures. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I’ve had the time of my life. I’ll never let go. Don’t stop believing.”
PS – Update on my cat, Amor. She’s in Tegucigalpa, medically cleared for entrance into the US. We’re just waiting to see which flight she can get home on. She should be reunited with Frijoles and I within the next few days! :)
Vaya pues, cheque, que le vaya bien, que Dios te bendiga, vaya con Dios y Amor y Frijoles
La Gringa formerly in Honduras - Emily
|Catracha de Corazon|