It's been a full week in Dakar, me wandering through the Peace Corps Office with my check-list in hand, marking off the various administrative tasks and getting the right people to sign on the lines. But it's all done now! I turned in my completed Close of Service packet, and now (well, as of November 1st officially) I am an RPCV. "Returned Peace Corps Volunteer", for those who haven't been using our strange jargon for two years. It is anticlimactic, which I suppose is to be expected. Why should I feel any different just because I officially finished my service? It's one of those things that will take time to sink in. But already, as I enjoy pizzas and sandwiches and good wine and short skirts here in Dakar, the village lifestyle seems almost dreamlike. Did I ever really pull water from a well? Did I walk barefoot in a peanut field? Did I sleep in a mud hut? I KNOW I did these things, but they are so unlike my current reality. The whole thing is rather surreal. Still, it is satisfying to know that I accomplished all the paperwork so fast.
This will be my last blog entry, since soon I will no longer be a rich white girl in Senegal...I'll be a relatively poor one in the USA. Peace Corps was a grand challenge. It was difficult and frustrating and rewarding and most of all eye-opening. I've learned that you can adjust to just about anything, and that learning knows no limits. My village was wonderful to me, and I won't forget them, though that might not translate to me sending gifts and money as they seem to hope. And I hope they will remember me fondly, as well. I will miss all the good friends I've made here, and the amazingly supportive PCV community. I'll miss the Kaolack hosue library especially! And the special feeling of being so different, so noticeable on the street or in the dance club or on public transport. I dreaded sept-place taxi rides and cramming into alhum busses, but I think I will feel nostalgic even for sweating in such crowded autos. It's just been such a unique, uncomparable experience! I know it has changed me.
Paris is a moveable feast, as Hemingway said, and I know that to be true. But maybe Senegal is a moveable bowl of ceeb u jen. And in the future, maybe, I can come back and feel again the connection that will always exist now, between me and Senegal, and especially with that little village of Keur Ali Gueye, existing discreetly and warmly in its spot in the Kaolack peanut basin.