Thursday, July 7th, 2011
The COS process is over! It’s official! On July 18th I will become a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and board a plane to come home to the United States of America. Katherine and I have been busy the past few days wrapping things up in the office and doing all of our last minute shopping in Dakar.
The Close of Service process was relatively painless. Past PCVs have really complained about how hard the process is, but it didn’t seem too bad to me. Katherine and I had both written our COS reports in advance which definitely made things less stressful and we were the only two people COSing this week. Checking off each box on the massive COS checklist was at the same time exciting, gratifying and numbing. It’s so strange that I’m the person COSing and a PCV who I’ve looked up to for the past couple of years. I’m so excited to come home, but I’m dreading saying goodbye and I’m still in shock that the time has actually come.
In-between medical appointments, exit interviews, and waiting for signatures, Katherine and I did find the time to get some additional shopping in. The two of us were in charge of getting the Dakar region’s COS bracelets. Silver ID bracelets are very popular in Senegal and it’s a Dakar region tradition that all of the COS-ers get a bracelet with their Senegalese name. It took several trips to the market and we had very little hope that all of the names would come out correctly and written on the correct bracelet, but Senegal offered us up a little miracle and the bracelets all look fantastic!
We also went to Marche Kermel which is a pretty touristy antiques market to get some last minute souvenirs for Katherine. At Christmastime I had picked up some excellent gifts for some of my male friends: pornographic bottle openers. They are amazing. The bottle openers are supposedly bronze, very sturdy, and are fairly graphic. They’re great. Anyway, Katherine and I are walking through the market trying to find and bargain for these items when one of the all time great Alyssa-isms pops out of my mouth. While waving a large, bronze penis bottle opener in my hand I proceed to tell the vendor who is quoting us a ridiculous price that “If you want to sell this bottle opener then 3000CFA is a good price. If you don’t want to sell this bottle opener then 11000CFA is a good price.” Needless to say Katherine got her souvenir.
Note for all future PCVs: If you ever find yourself in a market in a heated bargaining argument over a bronze penis you know it’s time to go home!
With souvenirs, bracelets, and a completed checklist Katherine and I said goodbye to everyone at the Peace Corps office and headed back to Thiès for the last time.