In exactly one month, we will pack our bags and leave what has been our home for the last two years. On July 17 we will officially become RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers).
As a way to commemorate the end of a very special time in my life, I’ve written a list of the top 30 things I’ll miss, the takeaways and the lessons I’ll carry with me the rest of my life about my time in Namibia.
While there are many hard parts about being a volunteer, the benefits outweigh the tough stuff. I will try my level best here to share the best parts of our service. These are not in any particular order.
#25 Running, yoga, workout videos and getting in great shape
In all the places I’ve lived I’ve always made running a part of my weekly exercise. I have vivid memories of running with my cross country team around my neighborhood in high school, seeing beautiful monuments in D.C. running in college with my best friend, running the streets of London during study abroad, and seeing the Rocky Mountains as the backdrop to many of my runs out West. Now I can add to my life’s list of running scenery the gorgeous Kavango River ebbing and flowing, the Atlantic Ocean “this side” and my town of Rundu.
I’ll miss passing by ladies carry baskets on their head, the little kids who would join me for a few meters, and the men who would cheer me on. While running in town it was impossible for me to not run into people I knew. I would greet them, and smile as it was a great reminder of how many people we have gotten to know in our time here.
Fitness has always been a big part of my life, but here I started to really vary my workouts with videos. Some of my best memories of Peace Corps are working out and doing yoga with fellow PCVs and learners. As Chalene Johnson says, “Fitness friends are the best friends.” That has always been true for me. I enjoy sweating and pushing myself to reach fitness goals alongside my friends. We usually indulge in cake after. 🙂
I’d also like to thank Jillian Michaels and SeanT in addition to Chalene for helping me build strength. I pushed play on those videos almost every day of my service and feel like those three have become my friends. I came to Namibia with high blood pressure and a couple extra pounds. I leave with perfect blood pressure and as a healthier woman. Here’s hoping I can keep up my improved workout and nutrition routine post-Peace Corps.
#26 Sundowners, Sunset cruises, Morning cruises
“Going for sundowner”is a common saying in Namibia. You park yourself in a good spot to watch the sun go down. Africa has some of the most incredible sunsets in the world. Living near the river, we feel fortunate that our Peace Corps experience included beautiful natural scenery.
I’ll miss Peace Corps date nights at Kavango River Lodge with my male husband and female husband (JT), the great staff and needless to say, the most amazing meal in Nam, the prawns. Sundowners provided a needed breath of fresh air from the often difficult things we had to face as PCVs.
#27 Doing things that you’d never do at home
Living abroad you find yourself in situations that you never would at home. In Namibia I’ve judged a beauty pageant, went for a swim at the edge of Victoria Falls and been introduced to a church congregation of hundreds for 20 minutes. The list goes on and on. The memories of the outrageous things we did these last two years will always help me remember my time fondly.
#28 Admiring the beautiful dancing, singing and cultural customs of Namibia
Africa celebrates its culture in beautiful ways. Tradition is important to my learners – I read about it in countless essays of theirs. I’ll always remember hearing the beautiful singing at Onane and Otate’s (our host parents) church, how singing united people in sadness at funerals and the enthusiasm of voices at weddings and at the beginning of meetings. As a tourist you may visit a places with a guide to get a sense of the culture. As Peace Corps volunteers, we ask our Namibian friends to share their culture with us, and we get to participate not just observe.
#29 The exploring we did on weekends and holidays
Nearby Lodge visits, baking at home, trips to the beach, great breakfasts, camping trips with our tent, the beach, trips home to the USA, London for the day, braais, the Dunes, visiting fellow PCVs at their sites, Namakasa’s Grandmom’s birthday weekend, Chobe National Park, my school staff party, Victoria Falls, weekends with Tanya and friends at Nunda Lodge. We’ve worked hard and we’ve played hard.
#30 The sounds of Nam
African birds chirping and singing, hearing “Miss!” or “Teacher!” from across campus and in town, frogs croaking me to sleep, our cat meowing first thing in the morning, hearing the learners play soccer with a coke can at 6 a.m., the learners singing the Namibian National anthem, hearing the volleyball team begin practising daily around 3 p.m. I’ll miss the sounds of Nam that I’ve become accustomed to and that are unique to living here.
Top #19-24 of our Peace Corps experience to follow next week!