Last year at this time I was uncertain where my future would lead. I was renting a room from friends. I was barely working any hours for a lovely catering company. I was living simply, and simply living. Life was actually pretty good. When money ran short I had my settlement to dip into. Unfortunately I have dipped a bit more than I like. But hey, it is my money and I needed it.
Then one day my dream came true. Peace Corps had decided to send me to Africa. A life long dream was about to come true. As I was purchasing new clothes and equipment for this adventure, my second surprise of the year came. My partner got a transfer he has been trying for 3 years to get. We were moving to California, a month before I was to move to Africa. What a whirlwind my life had become. We managed to get everything packed and moved on our schedule.
My time in Africa was short-lived, Ebola came to town. I was so disappointed and so sad about this. I wanted so badly to have a chance to prove I had the grit to stick it out. I was starting to miss Richard, but not enough to think about coming home yet. Once home there was a neighbor situation that eventually escalated to breaking of our lease. I was also working on getting my Peace Corps application re-submitted. I had missed my first deadline on purpose. I wanted so badly to go back to Africa. I saw two positions in September of 2015 that I really wanted to aim for. Apparently Peace Corps had other ideas. They sent me an invite with a 24 hour deadline to accept. They sent me an invite to Jamaica. Jamaica, a tropical paradise where sailing and snorkeling are prevalent is to be my new home.
I am excited about this new adventure, now that I have accepted that I will not be in Africa. I am still a little sad, but once I finish my 27 months, I can sign up for short-term projects all over the World. It really is a win win situation. I look forward to new adventures and this is a way keep myself actively involved and still be able to have an adventure.
As I realize how fast the days are counting down, I am starting to get nervous. I keep wondering is there something that I need that I do not already have? Maybe I need a solar panel that can charge my laptop? Maybe I need bug spray? Maybe I need my head examined? I found a blog of a currently serving Jamaica Peace Corps Volunteer, but it does not really tell you what to expect. As an environment volunteer, a teacher blog is not all that helpful. She has running water and power. I may or may not have those. I do not know why I am starting to freak out again. I did this once before. I packed my bags and went to Africa. There are things that I remember about those items that I will carry with me into my next adventure. Things like rain gear would be nice. Easy slip on and off shoes that cover your toes in the muddy wet season would be nice. A second french press would be nice for tea. Simple stuff like that. This adventure is a bit different. Last time I would have eventually been in my own home and responsible for myself. This time I will always live in a host home. So my home will not be my own. I am thankful for the last year where I learned how to live with people. I have always been head of household. Knowing that no matter how much you may dislike the way things are set up in the kitchen, you cannot change them was probably the hardest. This is mostly due to being left-handed and having things at my convenience. It makes sense to me, your right-handed set up makes no sense!
I do know I will be taking a nice conditioner and some tea tree oil for bug repellant. Those were things that actually got sent to me and arrived after my departure. I had them delivered to my host mom. I hope she understands what they are for. I have so many maxi dresses now, but working in environmental education, I will need durable clothes to dig in the dirt. I will also need nice clothes for presentations. So the next time I will pack more practically. I need some nice slacks, nice jeans a few skirts several blouses and a couple of dresses. I will need a nice pair of dress shoes, heels and boots. Also a pair of sneakers will be required, I intend on getting a bicycle.
I feel better about not taking everything with me this time. The mail system is much better in Jamaica than Liberia. I know that if I need something it will get there in a few weeks and cost way less to ship. There are other things that I will do differently this time around as well. I may actually attend church services, just to get out and integrate. I will try to get closer to people much faster. I suffered from sickness and jet lag that I slept far more than I am used to. I felt isolated and alone often. I know I wasn’t but it just felt that way. I do not look forward to the curfews that will be imposed upon us. That is something I have problems with, always have. I abide by them, but I struggle with that loss of freedom. The other thing I struggled with is lack of control over my food. As a vegetarian being served chicken and fish constantly gets tiresome. I hope to keep tighter control of my food this time around. I do know one thing I will have to bring with me is vegetarian bullion.
I think my host family in Liberia enjoyed the few meals that I created for them. I enjoyed many of theirs. I did not like all the oil in the food, that was the one thing that really bothered me. It was cheap vegetable oil and I despise that. I actually bought olive oil and left them with the bottle, they thought it was extravagant. I think food is your fuel and a pathway to health, so I only try to consume good quality foods.
I guess I lost track of what the subject of this post was. Reflection and anticipation, two opposites that really run parallel. Last year was the year of change, so were 2013, 2011, 2009, 2004, 2000, 1990. I would like to think that every year is the year of change. Change is not a scary thing, it should be embraced. Change is natures way to moving out the old and bringing in the new. Too many times we fight to hold onto the past and fear the future. I for one choose to reflect on the past, pick from it the things that made me stronger and then move on to embrace the future and the change it brings. It makes life so much better. I would give up all the money in the World for the experience I have had the privilege of having and the experiences that are yet to come. Life to me is about living and experience. When I die, I want people to remember my adventures not that I had a diamond necklace or some car.