Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well and enjoying this wonderful time of year. It’s been my first holiday away from home and has been nothing short of amazing. The beach was great as always. I met most of the new volunteers and they were all very nice. Most of them are pretty young and excited for their new adventure ahead.
While the beach trip was very relaxing and rewarding it did not hold a candle to the next trip…Mole National Park. This is the premiere national park in the country. It’s quite large and known for their elephants, warthogs, baboons and monkeys.
I first went to the very far north to meet some volunteers in a town. First thing I noticed up there was the dryness. No humidity like down here and it’s dry season so everything is browned up. Since it’s dry season the farmers also burn all the bush so you’d see vast expanses of charred earth and you can see fires glowing in the distance at night.
The next day we headed off to the national park. Unfortunately this was Christmas Eve which made travel very difficult. There were not many cars running so we got stuck in a random town for a few hours. We kept trying to charter a tro tro but they were trying to charge a ridiculous fare but finally we got them down to something somewhat reasonable. After a crazy ride on a terrible road we arrived at the park covered in dust.
We stayed at a hotel on the southern part of the park on a vista the overlooked the valley and watering hole. It offered great pictures for sunsets and animals coming to drink.
Now the animals and topography were great at the park but the best part was the company. I was with 15 other volunteers and we all just had such a great time relaxing by the pool and conversing. There also might have been a little bit of drinking ;)
I thought that being away for Christmas/my birthday would still not feel the same no matter how hard I tried. Luckily it turns out I was wrong. Even away from home I still find myself surrounded by such great people. All the volunteers are smart, driven, open-minded people who are just always great to be around.
This year I also got one of the best birthday/Christmas presents ever. As some of you already know my lovely sisters decided to make a secret Facebook group about a month ago and invited my friends and family to post messages, pictures, and videos and then invited me to join the group on Christmas day (my birthday). I happened to have my laptop with me and despite being in the middle of no where I had internet. When I logged on FB I saw the invite and went to the group and was absolutely blown away. All the messages and support almost made me cry (but I didn’t because I’m a man). It was one of the greatest things I have ever seen in my entire life. The amount of support that I have from everyone is extraordinary. The hardest part of Peace Corps for me is being away from friends and family and this lets me know that you all are always with me.
Now I will be going back to my site tomorrow to celebrate the new year there. I hear this will be a lot of church and booze so we’ll see how that goes. The new year is shaping up to start off very busy. I will work on spreading the CocoaLink project. I will also be starting to translate to my local dialect so we can begin recording. Later in January I’ll have two training events for writing grants, reviewing the last three months, and moving forward with my service. Then the first weekend of February is the National Spelling Bee.
So 2012 is shaping up to be a great yer for me and I hope it is for everbody back home as well. My parents sent me the confirmation for my flights to Italy which a greatly appreciate but it still doesn’t top the amazing amount of support I’ve recieved from everyone. Take care and have a safe and happy new year!