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Do me a favor as an RPCV

I am now a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, and it is ALMOST time for me to say goodbye to this blog. I just spent a few minutes scrolling through my archive and reflecting, and I’ve collected some of my favorite posts here under the #bwana. 

I think in my first year I was a more active blogger, things surprised me more, I drew more comparisons to America and I had more heartfelt  stories about warm people. In my second year not only did I become much busier, but my writing style seems to have changed. I think this is because living there just became my reality. I stopped comparing things to home, because this was my home; I stopped being surprised by things because I came to know this place so deeply. 

I think this is why now, back home, I’m having a hard time talking about my service in Malawi. Perhaps 9-months-in-country-Rita would have been more eloquent when a friend said, ‘Tell me a story about Africa,’ whereas 26-months-in-country-and-now-returned-Rita is at a loss. Africa is not some abstract novelty. It was my life, my friends are there, two years of my work is there. 

Readjustment is difficult, just as everyone said it would be. There’s so much to say and yet most of the time, when asked, I end up saying not very much at all. So maybe I’ll ask you for a favor… If you’re reading this now, scroll through 2 years of my favorite posts under #bwana and read a little of what I’ve already said. Then maybe we can build from there and instead of starting with the intimidatingly vague, “tell me a story about Africa” you can say, “tell me about Caeser” “tell me about your students” “How was camp sky?” or really anything slightly more specific. It would really take a load off my shoulders and result in a much more interesting conversation for both of us. 

This is the first thing I ever blogged on this account. Still true. 

This is the first thing I ever blogged on this account. Still true. 

(Source: whereintheworldisflick)

COS Trip: Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam

I closed my service in Malawi a little more than a month ago on August 12. The next day, me and three friends headed out for a three week adventure through SE Asia. 

Our last nsima in Lilongwe

First we flew from Lilongwe to Joburg for a 23 hour layover. Went to an all you can eat buffet for 180Rand and DID WORK.
Then Joburg to Qatar. In the Qatar airport for 8 hours, slept and ate BK. Probably the nicest airport & plane from Qatar to Bangkok.

BANGKOK! Street food, temples, tuk tuks, first thai massage, more street food, and even a Thai rockibilly swing dancing punk band.


The Reclining Buddha, who is awesome, and as it turns out is my buddha

After 3 days in Bangkok we took the overnight train to Hogw  Chiang Mai in the north. Chiang Mai was also super cool: more temples, street food, markets, a fish pedicure, ELEPHANTS, natural waterfall, ziplining through the jungle, and petting tigers.

At this point we’ve been in Thailand for almost a week, and head down to the south of the country for the famous beaches. Spent a couple days on the beautiful Ko Phi Phi island, island hopping & swimming & snorkeling on a longtail boat, scuba diving (saw an octopus and sharks!), and drinking cheap liquor out of a plastic bucket.

I adored Thailand. It’s paradise with great food, good people and lots of diverse fun to be had. 

Next stop: Siem Reap, Cambodia. We came here for the famous Angkor Wat, stayed a day and a half longer than planned while waiting of our visas to Vietnam, but enjoyed wandering around the city, exploring ancient temples, eating more cheap food, meeting nice people. 

From Siem Reap we took an overnight bus to Ho Chi Mihn, Vietnam. The bus got a flat tire on a bridge and was less than ideal, but we made it! (What would a COS trip be without a little transportation hassle?)

HCMC formerly Saigon- really developed with big buildings. Stayed in the backpackers district, went to the Viet Cong cu chi tunnels & the war remnants museum. 

dong

Then we flew to the north of the country and saw the city of Hanoi. Less developed, more trees. Got pick-pocketed at the night market by 3 crafty little women, went on a 2 day cruise to Halong Bay where we saw a sweet cave, kayaked, partied. Spent Indepence Day in the city wandering the streets, went to a movie and the zoo

Now our adventure was coming to a close, and I was feeling ready for America. Layover in Seoul (tried the soju) before the long time travel back to America (landed in Dallas an hour BEFORE we left Korea…) 

SE Asia was great fun and a really, really nice way to transition back home. I highly recommend doing a COS trip to all you PCVS- if you’re thinking SE Asia I’d be happy to offer advice. xox

Plight of a Malawian Girl-Child

Going is easy, coming home is hard.

18 candid (and conflicting) Malawian responses to "What's America like?"

Eating Burger King in Qatar airport rn. Super nice. Next stop: Bangkok!

You can take the PCVs out the village…

Our plane left Lilongwe at 1:30 and we landed here In Joburg before 4:00. In these four and a half hours we have already made it abundantly clear we are in for some culture shock.
Examples:
- the plane food was great
- I was overwhelmed by the fancy Joburg airport and was unable to make water come out the sinks (there’s no knobs!) said under my breath, “this is the future!” and left with unwashed hands.
- “We can drink the tap water!?”
- “Woahhh, parking garage!”
- “is there a water heater we have to turn on? …no? Like hot water just comes out all the time!?”
- And the big British personal trainer I sat across from at dinner was complimented me on how much I put away at the buffet dinner. (and I think I could have kept going)

Currently watching Beverly Hills Cop in a hostel living room. Tomorrow: Qatar!

COS’dLast day in Malawi! Tomorrow airport -> Joburg for 23hrs -> Qatar 8hrs -> Bangkok! 

COS’d

Last day in Malawi!
Tomorrow airport -> Joburg for 23hrs -> Qatar 8hrs -> Bangkok! 

Aug 8

What I’m imagining using new tech will be like when I COS

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