I have been very introspective and reflective these passed few days. As you may remember from my ramblings nearly two years ago, this is part and parcel of a Peace Corps Volunteer's routine - having ample time to just sit with their thoughts. As a general rule, PCVs are deep thinkers and even more passionate planners. This makes us very efficient and diligent workers, able to tackle hard tasks in grassroots development, but has often also provided much anguish in the long hours alone in the village. The time spent by myself, left to ponder my life and my existence and, truly, humanity, used to rattle me to the core. I had things I needed to work through and personal obstacles to overcome. Since then, I have grown to love and appreciate my alone time and can literally sit in silence for long hours reflecting and, albeit to a lesser extent, looking forward. Now I recognize that this time alone is precious. It is something that once was more than I could handle but now seems harder to come by so I am grateful for these passed days. Most of my thoughts come back to my group and our time here...
My group has just over five months left in Botswana. The time has flown by at a rate that I can only refer to as "lightening fast". When I think back to the last minute scramble to throw things in my hiking pack into the wee hours of the morning before I left, it seems like only yesterday. But when I think about how far I have come and everything I have experienced and been through, it seems like a lifetime ago. The girl that stuffed an extra skirt into her pack in lieu of extra face wash hardly exists anymore, at least not in that same way.
We have all changed. Looking at pictures with other members of my group from when we first arrived here, we all laugh and clamor about how young we all look. We have aged. We look a little haggard and rough around the edges now but I think it shows wisdom and courage. We are also a little jaded after all this time dealing with hardship but we are also more aware of ourselves and our capabilities and have maintained the will to try. We are not afraid of failure because we know how much sweeter it is when projects finally work out.
I have watched my group-mates grow in such unique and beautiful ways. For one, that might mean coming out of her shell and becoming strong and independent. For another, that might mean overcoming the ebbs and flows of his service to ultimately feel happy and successful. And, for yet another, that might have meant knowing when to say goodbye and head home to pursue the next big thing in their life. We have all had our own battles to fight and hardship to overcome along the way but we have done it as a group. I have loved watching my friends be transformed into these incredibly inspiring people.
And, on top of this evolution of being, we have had a rockin good time together. From quad biking on the sand dunes in Namibia to kayaking with penguins in South Africa to croc hunting in the Delta, it has been one crazy amazing adventure.
It's hard for me to believe that, before we know it, this time together will be complete. All of these realities will become memories and those extra grey hairs in our head a quiet reminder. I am proud of my group and where we have come and grateful to have shared this adventure with them. It's not every day you feel grounded by both your head and your heart but, for me, that's where I'm at. So a deep breath and a smile for the quest. I intend to relish in these last five months with my group and brace myself for what's next. It's going to be a wild ride!