Tuesday, August 28, 2007

normalcy

As someone who has traveled a lot and lived away from home for a long time I am used to being away from family and friends. I pride myself on being independent and not getting homesick. But there is something about being back with other volunteers and being in a city (Thies, and now Dakar) that makes me really miss home and friends and family. At site I’m so far removed from my previous reality that I’m not tempted by “normal” things. But being around other volunteers and being in a city with access to luxury, air conditioning, restaurants, going for coffee and delicious food makes me miss the normalcy and the comfort of home. Maybe not even home, but places that just aren’t as hard.

I met up with someone who was in Thies on a brief internship with a NGO. Talking to him about the Peace Corps experience and the way we PCVs live and the kinds of challenges and stories we all have, made me realize how exceptional this program really is. And how hard. It also made me incredibly proud of how much I’ve changed over these past months (almost six). I can tolerate so much more discomfort and frustration then I ever could before. Things just roll off my back much more easily than they used to. And I’m much more patient. Though that is not always consistent.

I have become totally jaded over some things, like going to the garage. The moment I walk into the garage I put my mean face on. I am ready to be harassed, to be grabbed at, swindled, lied to, and surrounded by people. So much so that today when we met a perfectly polite, nice, driver I was already so heated that it took me a few minutes to realize that he wasn’t trying to take us for all we’re worth. He was polite, helpful, and considerate. It was refreshing. Turns out that he was not Wolof. Unfortunately, the stereotype is that the Wolof men are aggressive and in my experience most times so far it’s true. I am not sure what it stems from, but my only real interactions with them are at the garage so that’s probably pretty unrepresentative.

So I’m heading back up to site later this week. Part of me is dreading it. The heat, the frustrations, the language barriers, the starting up of huge new projects etc.

But when I visualize coming home and having my little siblings and my family run into my arms to greet me…I wish I was already back…and that I had never left.

2 comments:

Barry said...

I think someone else said it before me but it bears repeating. "Cait, You rock." Dad

Anonymous said...

to my cuzin catie,

ive been keeping up with your blogs, and you really inspire me to keep moving foward. even when all i want to do is cry becuase im so overwhelmed. im having culture shock in the city everyday and i practially lived there. and to think that i have no idea what culture shock is. and my fears, and anxieties are nothing to what you are going through every day.

i miss u you so much, and i know your staying strong and continuing on focusing on your goals.
keep ya head up.

i love you,

Karen.