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Weeks of Peace Corps training and service: 108

Books read: 108

One-hour miniDV tapes shot: 20

Donkeys captured on video braying: 1

CFA in the village women’s group’s bank account when I left: 369,500

Functioning wells in the village: 2

Square meters of enclosed gardening space next to the new well: 225

Babies born in the village: 10

Deaths in the village (none of them residents): 3

PCV visitors to my village: 13

Non-PC American visitors to my village: 13

Other PCV sites I visited: 15

Trips I made back to the U.S. during my service: 0

Times I gave someone the finger in public: 0

Percentage of my stage who “Early Terminated” their service: 20

Percentage who were medically or administratively separated: 0

Grams of mefloquine (a.k.a. Lariam) ingested: 28

Non-rhetorical questions that the Country Director asked me during my 45-minute exit interview: 1

This was a difficult list to put together—sure, I read a book a week and, sure, I somehow managed to muster the monumental amount of self-control necessary to keep my middle fingers down… but what did I do?

Stuff, I guess. I may add to this list as more entertaining numbers come to mind.

Last night I returned from Suzanne’s wedding in North Carolina (Trips through the Atlanta airport in as many weeks: 3), which—as the British guests described it—really was quite lovely. It was also an interesting reintroduction to American life, packed with abundant food and drink (Martinis I had at the reception: 5) and beautiful fall foliage.

I can tell that I’m still in transition: On one of the many airport runs made during the days preceding the wedding itself, I drove the minivan back to the house. When I stopped at the teller’s booth to pay for parking, I realized that I was reaching my arm all the way across to hand him the ticket with my right hand. Recognizing that this looked silly and/or a bit deranged, I resolved to hold out the $2 fee with my left hand. I had to actually move my left hand out the window and then put the money into it with my right hand in order to accomplish this. Senegal had so ingrained “right hand good/left hand bad” into me that I physically could not use my left hand.

I’m more successful at suppressing “Assalamu Alaikum“s when walking into stores and at substituting English for Pulaar or Peace Corps jargon. And, thankfully, the habit of clicking my tongue to signal assent is fairly inconspicuous.

Last week’s nominations for The Best Things About Being Back in America? Cold weather and quality liquor.

6 Responses to “index, two years”

Dude, next time you’re in the Atlanta airport let me know.

Also, glad you’re back and wanting to know if you’ll be around BR at Christmas.

Whoa, I somehow missed the entire left-hand-bad thing. I would have been SCREWED in Senegal.

I’ve been back a year now, and I still have a hard time using my left hand.

I’ve been an RPCV for years (from Kenya) and still feel a shadow of residual guilt/shame/uncomfortableness about wearing clothing that shows a bit-o-thigh. This cultural sensitivity stuff runs deep!

I just wanted to let you know I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog entires. I’m about to graduate from college, and debating on joning the peace corps, and reading your account has really influenced my deicision. So….thanks!

Catherine – I *know* I’m gonna feel weird about wearing shorts. I try not to react too obviously to all the short-shorts and mini-skirts I see around town…

Allie – I hope influenced in a good way 😉 It wasn’t 24/7 fun by any means, but it was worth it overall. Good luck with your application and service if you decide to do it.