It was a loooonnnnggg three and a half weeks, it feels like I had been gone forever! After finishing up in Zambia and finally making it back to Dar after that hellish train ride, we had about 24 hours to kill before we made our way to Mafia Island. I spent the time at the office in the air conditioning using the free WiFi, but only after I so gracefully slipped out of my flip flop into a puddle of mud to then fall and eat shit in the middle of a busy street promptly scrapping my knee and shin to the point of drawing blood. To say the least I was happy to leave Dar for a bit.
Tuesday the 7th we jumped on a small crop duster sized plane and made the 30 minute flight to Mafia from Dar. The trip was quick but we had an awesome time swimming with the whale sharks. Initially I had no idea what I was doing when it came to using a snorkel and I spent the first 2 dives out of the boat (about 30 mins) silently crying and drowning in the middle of the ocean because I was drinking so much salt water. By the third time out of the boat I learned a trick to unfog my goggles and finally figured out my snorkel wasn’t attached right and had been dragging in the water, so I got everything fixed and I was off and running swimming. It was a nice little beach vacation before starting our close of service conference.
Monday the 13th we were picked up from various locations in big Peace Corps buses and transported to our conference venue. We spent the week taking about closing service protocols, reintegration upon returning to America, and other such things that truly were unimportant but it was nice to spend the time with people who started this journey with me and that I may never see again. The biggest take away from the conference was that I will officially be swearing out as a Peace Corps volunteer on Friday April 3rd! It was so surreal to finally get that date and start filling out closing paperwork. Although I will be closing my service on the 3rd I will not be leaving Tanzania until a little later the following week when I set out on my extensive worldly travels (ha). But really keep a look out for updates on where I’ll be going and get ready for me to be home towards the end of May (aka: plan me a big party 🥳)!
Upon returning to my home I was overjoyed to find the mostly beautifully kept garden and newly landscapes yard. Before leaving for my travels I asked my friend Frank, a teenage boy who lives close to me, if he could come water my garden and cut down any weeds that may grow; I really didn’t want a rerun of last year with my jungle of a yard and dead garden. About a week into me being gone I got a call from him asking if it would be alright if he just stayed at my house. I told him that’d be fine but there was no where clean for him to sleep and he promptly told me he would clean out the smaller building behind my house and sleep in there (meaning he had already cleaned it out and was probably already sleeping at my house 😂). Before anyone jumps down my throat about him sleeping out there I’d just like to say I had no idea he was going to ask to stay so it’s the only thing I left open because I use it as a shed and everything he needed to clean was in there, had I known he wanted to live here while I was gone I would have at least opened my kitchen area up to him. Anyways moral of the story I’m pretty sure he laughed at what my idea of upkeep around my house looked like because he has now planted about 20 flowers around my yard, dug a trench to move standing water out after it rains, washed one pot I left in the shed so well I can see my reflection in it, and to top it all off he somehow managed to jimmy the lock off my bathroom and cleaned that too! I think the nurses were more sad to see him go than they were happy to see my come back 😂. All I can say is I’m very thankful for him and everything he’s done around my humble abode since I’ve been gone!
On a short, but heartfelt, final note I came home to the final packages I will receive here in Tanzania. I am beyond grateful to anyone that has sent me something, whether it be a package or postcard, while being here. I thank you not just because I have enjoyed every minute of the exciting contents but because with some … miles more or less between us you took the time to even think of me here. I appreciate your thoughts and don’t know if I can ever thank you enough for providing me with a mini Christmas every time I opened the mail box and found a little white slip with my name on it inside 💛