I'm thisclose to being an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, meaning I completed my service successfully). Tomorrow is the official day, but it's a PC holiday for Veterans Day so I need to have all my stuff closed out by the end of today. Currently I'm just sitting in the PC bureau in Kigali, waiting on staff to sign some documents for me and give me more documents to keep track of. Your taxpayer dollars at work, folks!
Among all my "last" experiences in Rwanda, I had a lovely evening with some PCV friends on Monday night. There is a great restaurant in Kigali that hosts trivia nights once a week, but because I lived too far away and worked during the week, I hadn't gotten to go to them. Let me insert here that if you aren't already aware, I'm kiiiind of obsessed with pub trivia nights in America. Let me also say that during my first month at site in Rwanda, I had a lot of down time, and I memorized all the world capitals. Yes. Kind of just for fun, but also with the hope that SOMEDAY, SOMEWHERE, this knowledge would enable me to wow my teammates and rival teams at a pub trivia night. Anyway, I'll cut to the chase: it happened. It was my crowning achievement. Capital of Montenegro? Podgorica, bam! I was absurdly happy.
A lot of people have been asking me how I "feel" with respect to COSing, or closing my service. Are you sooo excited? Are you really sad? Is it so weird? And usually I've been responding simply that I'm at peace with it (no pun intended). I certainly enjoyed my Peace Corps service, and I'm really glad I decided to do it. But for me, I'm definitely ready to be coming home to the grand ol' USA. I'm not counting the minutes and hours until I get on a plane, but I'm ready. I will leave Rwanda at 2:00 AM local time on Friday night/Saturday morning. (Then my crazy epic travel adventures begin!)
I moved out of my site on October 25 without too much fanfare, which was fine. I don't like super emotional goodbyes; I have my memories and I am content with them. Then I headed to Nyanza, 90 minutes south of Kigali, to help with pre-service training (PST) for our newest arrivals. About 70 trainees are learning all the ins and outs of Peace Corps and will swear in at the beginning of January. I assisted mainly with TEFL-related training, talking about my experience being a teacher in Rwanda. The trainees are great and very motivated, full of questions. One thing that I was asked several times was how often I'd gotten sick in Rwanda. "Never!" was my emphatic response.
So, of course, then I became extremely ill during my second week in Nyanza. It seemed like it could possibly be malaria at the onset, but the final diagnosis was tonsillitis. I never knew that could affect a person so seriously, but I was laid up in bed for 72 straight hours! Let's just say that of the symptoms listed on Wikipedia, I had ALL of them:
* red and/or swollen tonsils
* white or yellow patches on the tonsils
* tender, stiff, and/or swollen neck
* bad breath
* sore throat
* painful or difficult swallowing
* sore eyes
* body aches
* nasal congestions
But our Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO) is the greatest, and he got me everything I needed to be back up to snuff in a few days. Sadly, the last random issue is that this week I have some unexplained rash on my chest and back, which the doctor says does not seem to be from my meds... so who knows! At least it's not bothering me; I just look like a leper. Ah, Peace Corps.
Speaking of how I look, I'd wanted to post some pictures of all my African outfits. I'd had a bunch made in Mauritania because that was all we really wore there, no Western clothes. As I'm leaving Rwanda, I'm giving almost all my clothing away, so these photos will serve as the last documentation. Enjoy.