A lot of volunteers warned me that the holiday season in Peace Corps, wherever you’re placed in the world, is really rough. I’d have to agree.
I didn’t think it’d be so bad because I was doing so well up to this point. But then I started missing Trenton. Then my family. And all my friends. Not to mention it felt nothing like the holidays wearing a tank top and flip flops, getting darker and darker from the sun that made sure to make me sweat in the 90 degree weather. Christmas didn't feel like Christmas to me and it was so bad, to the point where I was almost dreading it. But I told myself to be with friends and surround myself with people who are here with me, who are experiencing similar emotions, and to just be in the present. I am so glad I chose to get away and spend the holidays with lovely, kind people who can make me laugh and who surely know how to cook and dance.
I spent the weekend before Christmas with friends in BOTS 13. We hung out in a house a lot nicer than mine and played cards, cooked, played with puppies, and watched Christmas movies. I helped make pizza with cheese, tomatoes, and green bell peppers. Oh. My. Goodness. So good. Not to mention I made a pretty damn good dough with the help of my friend Liz from a random recipe we got from a yoga magazine. We ate hummus (Can you believe that?!) that someone found at a supermarket and felt so lucky to find food we could eat back home and I made brownies that came out a little burnt from an oven here that has no measure of temperature on its knob. I also watched A Muppet Christmas Story (or something like that) for the first time. I fell asleep though. (Sorry guys.) It was fun.
Then I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day in my shopping village of Lobatse and saw volunteers from previous BOTS groups, volunteers who’ve been here for a year, others who’ve been here for 7 months, and a few who are almost leaving. It was so cool to meet other volunteers and to hear of their experiences here. It was also very nice to stay in such a nice house. I could not even believe it was Peace Corps standard. Seriously. The houses we partied and stayed at were regular, normal houses you’d see in the states. So jealous. We hung out, ate again (of course), played games, sang Christmas Carols, danced, and had a good time. I ate a total of 4 ice cream cones in two days and didn’t regret it.
Although I missed everyone back home I was grateful to be with people who are so welcoming and intelligent, kind and funny. The best part of Christmas, other than making up ridiculous dance routines with people I just met, was getting texts from family back home and talking to the Amaro’s, Trenton’s family, again. It was good to hear everyone’s voice and to laugh with his mom, Shelly, about things I can’t even remember now. It made me feel really nostalgic but really glad at the same time. I was told that Dee, Trenton’s aunt, had blown up a picture of my face and put it on cardboard so that I could be there in spirit with them and so that Trenton would be able to enjoy Christmas with “me.” The thought of that still cracks me up and what’s really funny is the fact that he is driving around with my big head in the backseat of his car. I love it.
I reminisced at all the Christmas traditions I did back home and found pleasure in knowing I can make new ones here and that the ones back home will still be there when I get back. I have to remember that, like a friend once told me, I may be lonely at times but I am never alone. With that I will say I had a very merry Christmas and hope all of you did, too! I can’t wait for the next one. On to the new year...