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I am home. I am no longer in the Peace Corps.  I arrived on July 1, 2016 and have been “readjusting.”  First I stayed with Sumaya and Don, then I moved into my own house. I am living alone again, like in South Africa, but with old friends, neighbors, and family close-by.  I am driving my car!  I am taking showers!  I have a kitchen with a sink! I have an indoor toilet!

The most amazing thing is that although I have memories and photos and blog posts of my two years in South Africa, I don’t feel like I went.  It was a two-year time warp!  Days and weeks in South Africa felt very very long. But the two years?  Over in a flash!  However, I am texting with my new friends in South Africa!  I must have been there!

The last two weeks after my farewell went quickly, first with Marie in the Battlefields area, then with the whole remaining gang (17 of us) at our Close of Service Conference in a hotel near Pretoria and then a week in Pretoria at an approved backpackers doing Close of Service (in my case, Early Termination) activities and touring Pretoria.   There were a few of us remaining in Pretoria and it was fun to meet volunteers from other cohorts and hang out with volunteers from my cohort during the last few days.

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The 17 remaining volunteers from an initial group of 35 who landed in Johannesburg on July 3, 2014.

 

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Julie Burns, South Africa County Director, is a wonderful woman and a great “boss.” Marie and I went out to dinner with her and talked “woman to woman” for several hours at her favorite Italian restaurant in Pretoria.

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There was time for last minute photos and selfies at the Peace Corps office as you try and complete all the required steps on the Closure Checklist before flying away to America. Here I am with Chelsea, Julie and Lalumbe.

 

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I flew back to San Francisco with another volunteer, Chris Vitt. We had flown together to Philadelphia on June 30, 2014, but didn’t know each other then. It was great to be together at the airports in Johannesburg, Frankfurt, and San Francisco. We played lots of games of backgammon on his little travel game board.

 

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Lufthansa flew us to San Francisco on an Airbus, full to the brim, double decker, with over 500 people. 11 hours to Frankfurt, 5 hour layover, 12.5 hours to San Francisco.

 

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My family was away when I arrived but soon returned from their wonderful national parks tour. I was overjoyed to be with Ian, Caitlin and Sadie once again. I hadn’t seen them for a year!

I am almost over jet lag, finished taking de-worming meds, still taking malaria meds, can’t sleep much, have rotten digestion, interviewing professionals who might refinish the hardwood floors in my house, got a new phone and new phone number, am learning online banking so I can pay my own bills, coping with the end of a marriage, walking the hills with friends in my new Keens shoes, reading a great book for one of my two book clubs, talking and talking with friends, going out to eat at Mexican restaurants, eating sourdough French bread.

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Some of the walking group in the hills of Redwood City on a gorgeous Sunday morning. We walked over 5.5 miles!

I am trying to construct and reconstruct a life here in Redwood City, California as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, a single, 70-year-old woman, with many options and possibilities.

THANK YOU to all my supporters who have called, written, sent care packages, visited, given money, listened to my whining, complemented me and commented on my blog postings over the last two years.    I could not have done it without you!
THANK YOU a million times over!

I want to see you!  Call me!  Write to me!  Visit me!

Remember all the money you donated at my farewell party in June 2014?  I have wired it to my friend and principal, Mam Ndlovu.  It came to 15,712.79 Rand.  It will employ Mxolisi as our school clerk for 10 months!  Thank you!

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Mxolisi, at school.

What a long strange trip it has been!

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