My adventures serving in the Peace Corps

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

God Bless America. Seriously.

I LOVE America. Coming home made me appreciate what we have in the States so, so much. I can't write about my trip home with the detail that I usually use, but I will try to give you and overview :)
Landing on American soil was seriously one of the most exciting moments I have had in a while. Stepping out of customs to see my mom and dad waiting for me was pretty emotional. Getting back to my house felt really good. Upon seeing my cats, I just started laughing and couldn't stop because- and I'm not exaggerating at all right now- those cats were as big as the goats in my village! Granted my cats in Benin are extremely tiny and these cats were very large, but it was seriously shocking! My first meal at home was good wine, a fruit salad containing no tropical fruits whatsoever, filet mignon, baked potatoes, broccoli, and my mom's chocolate cake. Sleeping in my bed with a comforter and AC was bliss.
The next day was filled with lots of happy reunions: I had breakfast at my grandma and grandpa Hurst's, homemade pizza at grandma D's with all of my relatives for lunch, and then Leah, Cam and Sarah made me dinner :) The rest of the week was filled with spending time with those people, spending hundreds of dollars at Meijers, REI, and Whole Foods, and eating an absurd amount of delicious food at my favorite restaurants. I also gave a presentation at Trinity about my first year of service, and that went really well.
The following week my parents and I did a trip Up North, which was really fun! On the first day we had breakfast with my friend Carly and her parents. Carly was a PCV in Benin who had JUST finished her service and gotten home to Kalamazoo. We also got to stop in Holland and see Dan and Corene's new house! That night we ended up in Ludington, where we played mini golf (STILL couldn't beat my dad!), walked the pier at sunset to watch the Badger go out, and hiked in the state park.
The next day we headed up the coast to the Leelenau peninsula, and ended up at Black Star Farms, a winery/creamery/B&B where we stayed for two days. The place was absolutely beautiful. The land was very lush and surrounded by vineyards ans stables. The Inn was gorgeous! We had a massive room with a fireplace, two king size beds, and gorgeous views. There was a sauna and jacuzzi we could use, and the common areas were nice. The first night we went to the wine and hors d'oeuvre reception at the Inn and then had an amaaaazing dinner at a trattoria in Traverse city. The second night we drove up Old Mission Peninsula, which was just as beautiful as I remembered. We had dinner at a nice Inn, where the mosquitoes were worse than I have ever experienced in Benin!
The next day we hugged the coast again all the way up to Mackinaw. We drove through the “Tunnel of Trees” which is a road on a bluff above Lake Michigan through dense forest and some of the most beautiful homes I have ever seen. We basically laid low in Mackinaw, spent the night in a nice B&B. On the way home the next day we stopped in Frankenmeuth for a chicken dinner!
That weekend Amanda and Morgan, friends from my study abroad, drove up from Chicago to see me. We spent all of Saturday shopping and walking around Ann Arbor, and then had a delicious dinner at Zingerman's Roadhouse. I laid a bit more low that week, since I had already done most of my shopping and eating, and a lot of my friends were busy with band week.
The last weekend was awesome! Mitch came on Friday and we went to Common Grill for dinner with my parents. Saturday was the game! I wore my fabulous dress, and we went to watch the band practice in the morning, where we saw TONS of band alums. It was sort of weird not being a part of the band, but I didn't envy them working so hard! I spent some time at euphgate, and then watched the step show for the first time ever! Watching pregame was so awesome, and I was SO proud of David, a good friends and former euph who is now the drum major. Then the game was sweet! So good seeing Michigan dominate again. It made me wish I could see every game this season!
That night Cam and Sarah's house had a party that was a lot of fun. The last full day I was home we had another gathering at my grandma D's where we ate lots of food and played bocce ball- I taught all of my friends that came how to play! The last day home was spent packing and saying a few last goodbyes. Goodbyes were actually harder for me this time around, probably because I knew exactly what I was coming back to and knew the loneliness that comes with being a Peace Corps volunteer. The flights home were not bad at all, I was actually able to sleep through most of them! Coming back was sort of sad, but I felt better as soon as I saw some of my Peace Corps friends that happened to be in Cotonou. It was also good to have rice and beans today- the food at home was awesome, but I actually got sick of eating so much and gained 8 pounds while I was home! Today I have just been readjusting to life here and organizing a few things before I head back to my village tomorrow.
So, long story short, my trip was absolutely fantastic and a really good break for me. I now have less than a year left as a volunteer here! I hope that I will readjust to the slow pace of life here; I know I will have a pretty hard time when I get back to Lobogo tomorrow, though I am SO SO excited to see my kitties!! School probably won't actually start for another month, though I will try to keep busy with looking for funding for Camp GLOW (I will let you know if I do a PCPP, which is where you can donate!). I also brought back a portable DVD player and some movies to keep me busy. Next week I will be back down in Cotonou with Fifa to get her glasses, and I will be back soon again after that when the new volunteers swear in. Hope all is well in the States and PLEASE call me, I'm really going to need it as I readjust to life here!


loehrke said...

It sounds like you had an absolutely AMAZING time back in the states. You certainly packed a busy schedule.......I imagine slightly different than the pace of Benin!!!
We had a great time seeing you....and you were nice not to mention that you had to wake up at a ridiculous hour to meet us for breakfast!!!!
I am betting that this year will just fly by; much more quickly than the one just past. Stay healthy and enjoy every moment. We will follow your blog faithfully and savor every word and picture!!
Best, Mark Loehrke (Carly's dad)

Judith A. Johnson said...

All the things back home will help you appreciate the little things in Benin and next year by this time it will be just as hard to leave there. Great meeting up with you in Kazoo, have a wonderful year and kick butt.
Judy (Carly's mom)