It’s not very often in our lives that we really say goodbye. We can say “see you later” or “see you soon,” or how about “catch ya on the flippity-flop.” Even if we do part with a friendly “bye!” we rarely use it in a permanent sense. Two weeks ago, we were picked up by the Peace Corps LandCruiser and driven out of our village. We said a permanent “goodbye” to our Zambian life. We don’t know if or when we will ever be back, and even if we do manage to visit, it will never be the same.
For the past month, we have been slowly saying our goodbyes to all our Zambian friends and family. We concluded projects, had final meetings, and even a farewell party at school with all of the teachers. As a gift, the school made Joey and me matching chitenge outfits to wear at the celebration. It was extremely thoughtful. We also enjoyed one last nshima meal with our host family. They even prepared a village chicken for us, which is a very special treat primarily saved for special occasions. We visited neighbors and handed out pictures and thank you letters to all of those who had supported us during our time in the village. After each visit, we concluded by saying a sincere “thank you.” I thought it would get easier after each family we visited, but it didn’t. All the people that we stayed with for 2 years have truly touched us and we will miss them. The relationships we formed will always be cherished.
We spent the last week of our Peace Corps careers in Lusaka saying more goodbyes to Lusaka Peace Corps staff and fellow volunteers. We started our service 26 months ago with 52 volunteers; 13 left along the way, 11 are extending for a third year, and 28 finished their Peace Corps tour. Yesterday, we participated in an official PC “ringing out” ceremony. Each of the 28 volunteers completing their service had the opportunity to “ding” a metal rim to signify the end of their service. It is a short and sweet ceremony and just like that, it is “goodbye” to Peace Corps Zambia.
We are saying farewell to more than our friends and family, we are also saying goodbye to 2am rooster calls, an endless blue sky, our dog, Danger and cat, Lenny, six months of straight rain, 6 months of dry heat, children chasing goats, long truck rides on bumpy dirt roads, 8pm bedtimes, mosquito nets, the Southern Cross, and so much more. It is hard to imagine any other experience coming close to this. In fact, I don’t know if I would want another experience like this. It has been a full journey, and new chapters lie ahead.
We are also ending yet another chapter of our service: this blog. Thank you to those of you who followed our life in Mkushi, Zambia over the last 26 months. And so, for one more time, “Goodbye.”
|A cloudy sunrise with Danger on Cell Phone Mountain|
|Our American friends who stay in Lusaka, the Burke family, came to visit our last month at site|
|My last adult literacy class|
|Joey in his field|
|The school staff at our farewell pary|
|Joey and some of his closest farmer friends on our last night|
|Our neighbors, Martha, Lasty, and Taonga|
|Our last day in Zambia at the Peace Corps office after "Ring Out."|