So it happened. Today I closed my service as Peace Corps Volunteer.
One year and 11 months ago, it was hard to believe that the day would come.
The funny thing about it is that I'm still here. In my site. Eating beans and tortillas and getting annoyed every time someone asks me to get them a visa. Thank goodness for beans and tortillas and people who ask for visas.
They make it totally worth it. And I'm being replaced by another volunteer, a biologist, refugee from a now off-limits department, so I'm not out in the middle of somewhere that Peace Corps considers really insecure. We'll have a month to work together.
Last week, we all turned in our piles of paperwork and had a late COS conference with my training group. It was nice to celebrate and eat good food and see everyone. It all gave closure, but it's still an odd feeling. What's really changed between yesterday and Monday? I guess a number somewhere on a computer screen in Washington, DC.
Less than imagining I'd never finish Peace Corps, I never would have imagined that I would not want to go when given the free pass to finish a month early. Yet something cool about Peace Corps is that it takes time to make friends in community and get ideas rolling, but when you do, it's great. You get infected with the idea of making things happen. I would guess there are very few volunteers out there who stop involving themselves in their communities - wherever they are - in some way after they finish Peace Corps.
I like to look at it like I'm just getting a head-start on the life-long volunteering thing, by seamlessly passing from my Peace Corps service to a true volunteer experience... I just happen to be finishing projects started under Peace Corps.
Among other things, what we started and will be finishing in this case are some signs. True story. I'll tell you all about it on March 30, after we inaugurate the project!