And I am officially done with Peace Corps. As of about a month ago, on November 10th, I finished my last little bit of paperwork and officially became a "returned" Peace Corps volunteer. The end was mostly surreal, and I still can't really believe that it is over, or even that it really happened at all. The last year especially, seems to have just been a blur, where I went from having one year left last November, then 6 months, then 2, than a few weeks and somehow before I really noticed it I was only days away from leaving Yanamito for good.
I have tried writing this out in a few different ways, but every time I try, the writing just kind of gets away from me and I wind up just rambling and contradicting myself a bunch. Overall, it was a really great experience. I was really lucky to have landed in Peru, and on top of that I was really lucky to have been placed in the rural Andes. I got to live in a stunningly beautiful place, go on mountain treks, go on beach vacations, jungle vacations, visit Machu Picchu, eat great food, experience living with an indigenous traditional culture, learn Spanish and REALLY get to know what it is like to live in a different country. I had two amazing host families, both who refer to me as another child, and somehow I now have more parents, siblings, cousins and aunts and uncles than I have ever had before. Work was sometimes, if not always, frustrating (but I am mostly gonna stay away from that to avoid the rambling), but I did all I could, some people learned things (they must have right?) and I definitely learned a ton. There are some things I would do differently, but overall, I would do it all again in a heartbeat and I can't think of anything else I could have done to better take advantage of two post college years in my 20s.
So that was Peace Corps. I am now at the end of the world, in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. We are in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. So far, since leaving Peru (for the 1st time since September 2009 by the way), we have seen Santiago, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar and Patagonia of Southern Chile. This part of South America is just hitting summer time so it is light out till 830 and beautiful weather.
We have gone to the beach, toured poet Pablo Neruda's house, gone to a whaling museum, gone on a 5 day trek in Patagonia, seen a real live glacier and experienced a bit of Chilean culture.
Chile was slightly confusing because Chileans talk really mumbly, sing-songy Spanish and their peso is valued at about 500 to the dollar, but for some reason they also use the $ sign. So you walk into a sandwich shop to get lunch and you see "cheese sandwich--$750." Very confusing. Patagonia and where we are now is incredible...it just feels crazy to know you are at the southernmost part of the world. Also, because we are so far south now, it doesn't get fully dark until 11 pm and it gets light at 5 am. My watch battery died and I was just constantly confused, thinking it was about 4 in the afternoon about 6 hours a day. More Pictures will be forthcoming, but since I didn't take my laptop with me, I can't transfer them from my camera and I just have to steal Pete's.
That's about it for now. I have my return ticket to NY booked for January 17th. From here we go to Buenos Aires, then I strike out on my own for about 2 more weeks in Argentina, including the Igazu Falls, and a week or two in Bolivia before I make my triumphant (is living at home and being afraid to go outside considered triumphant?) return to the USA...