Sunday, July 17, 2011

Last Day in Thies

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Today was like any other day except that it was my last day in Thiès.

I got up early as usual and was able to move a lot of things out of my room and take a TON of stuff over to the center before my family even woke up. Many PCVs hand things down to their replacements and I wanted to do that for Nancy so I packed up my trunk with all of my dishes, silverware, phone, internet modem, voltage regulator and some other goodies. I had a giant bag and a box full of food that I wasn’t able to get through and a ton of toiletries that I gave Clare.

My trip to the center was multi-purpose. I needed to give Nancy the trunk and Clare he ridiculously large “care package,” but I also wanted to say goodbye to the trainees, Talla, and all of the staff at the center. The center really became a refuge during my second year where I could go and have some quite alone time. I also started helping out with trainings a lot more and really got to know some of the language instructors, the guards, and the rest of the staff.

Saying goodbye to the trainees was really weird. I welcomed them at the airport a little over a month ago when I felt that I still had a long time in Senegal. Passing the torch seems surreal. Apart from the trainees, I thanked Talla for all of his help, Amadou, the Peace Corps secretary, for helping me plan various events and rent various types of vehicles among all the other things he does. Awa, the cultural coordinator, for being amazing and helping me with my recent rent problems. I also had to say goodbye to Mike who entered Peace Corps Senegal with my stage after the program in Mauritania closed down. He now works on contract with Peace Corps at the training center so I see him a lot; that one was hard. I’m completely emotionally exhausted so the goodbyes are getting a little easier.

From the center I went into town for the last time. I wanted to print some recent snapshots for Jeenaba. She used to think that un-posed pictures were weird, but now she’s really happy that she has a bunch of pictures of Abdou. She’s such a good mom. I also ran to Les Delices to get a cake for tonight to thank my family which gave me an opportunity to say goodbye to the waitresses. Then, I took my last cab ride in Thiès and came home.

I wanted to spend the rest of the day being “present,” just taking in life and appreciating my family. Taking it slow reminded me why I force myself to get out of the house every morning and every afternoon even if it is just to walk around. Being around all day is oppressively boring and I see a lot more of the arguing and hardships that Jeenaba faces. I did really enjoying spending the day with Ahmed and Abdou. Ahmed knows that I’m leaving and told me he’s sad even though I gave him a huge box of papers, pens and pencils, and presents last night. While cleaning my room today, a feeding frenzy broke out over the rest of my toiletries even though I was trying to finish everything up before having my things attacked. It was a weird feeling to have my things picked over while I was still around.

Many PCVs give their families some extra money so everyone can enjoy a nice feast their last night. I didn’t do that because I was interested to see what happened. I didn’t expect my family to do anything different and they didn’t and for some reason I’m still sad about it. I bought a cake and ice cream which we enjoyed after a very underwhelming dinner. I’m not sure what I expected my last night to be, but I don’t think it was this. Everyone is talking about my imminent departure and that it will be sad, but I don’t necessarily believe it. Jeenaba and I had a moment today when I was really able to thank her for everything and try to explain how much her friendship means to me. We both teared up a little bit and I gave her my contact information in case she ever really needs anything and some money for Abdou. I hope things go well for her and Abdou.

It’s now the end of the night and I’m ready to go to bed for the very last time in the bungalow. I can’t believe my service is over. I’m still in shock that I made it and that I’m going home. Tomorrow morning I have to say goodbye to my family, which I’m sure will be extremely hard even though today wasn’t the best day. Then it’s off to Dakar with Katherine and Jackie where the festivities will really start.

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