So I don’t know how many times I can say this, but clearly I’m not made out for blogging. I just don’t do it. And it’s not like I don’t enjoy it or anything—I’ve always got stuff to say, and the words start flowing as soon as I start writing. But maybe it’s the deadlines, or the pressure of knowing people are waiting to hear about my “exciting and fabulous African life”? Or maybe I’m just plain lazy... yeah, I think it’s the last one.
Anywho, I returned to a sunny and humid-as-heck Toronto on May 31st. In weeks leading up to the big day, I kind of had mixed feelings about coming home: I was resigned to the fact that it was coming, but I didn’t necessarily want to leave my friends and my home in Bots. Cut to the weekend before and the days leading up to my departure, and I REALLY didn’t want to go. And I was a hot mess at the Gaborone airport. Somehow between there and Pearson airport in Toronto, the excitement started to build. I was nervous—I felt like vomiting, and I wasn’t sure what emotions would come out at seeing my family for the first time in a year. But I made it through customs (with multiple quizzical looks at my passport after telling them I’d be in Africa for a year) and when I walked through that door and saw them, I turned into a 12-year old, just beaming and running over to them. It was literally a scene out of “Love Actually” (one of my favourite movies) and just good times overall. The first few days were pretty busy, what with my bazillion family members coming over to visit and me trying to unpack my stuff... which took about 6 days before I was actually done. I’ve also gotten a chance to talk to and see a lot of my lovely friends here, some of which have graduated and are starting a new chapter... that’s so weird to me! I guess we’re grownups now. I still have some wrap-up stuff to do, friends to see and jobs to apply for (if anyone knows a good job opportunity in Toronto for July and August, hook a sista up!), but other than that, it almost feels like I never left. The novelty hasn’t completely worn off yet, but I know I’m getting there. Turns out what I missed the most (which I’ve told a couple of people already) about Canada is not what I was expecting—first and foremost, I’m LOVING the 9pm sunsets. Gosh, I missed being able to do stuff after work! I also really love how there are trees everywhere, and my suburb in particular is looking pretty good right now. I’m super stoked about missing ANOTHER winter: I feel like I am the evader of all things cold, and it’s awesome. And of course, TV to watch the NBA finals and fast internet isn’t too shabby, either.
All that is not the point of this post though; after a year of seeing and doing some incredible things, I’ve hit the point where I’m starting to reflect on my experiences. I’ve come back a changed woman—I can feel it. This was really the first time I’ve been away from my family and left alone to figure out my place in the world. But what I’ve found is that I’ve got a whole other (albeit, GINORMOUS) family made up of the good lads and lasses in Botswana who helped me get through it all. It was so hard to leave you guys, but I hope to God that one day I will see you all again. Bear with me peeps, but there are a crapload of people I have to publicly thank for being so spectacular:
- First, I have to start with my lovely family and friends here in Canada-- it was so nice to hear your words of encouragement, and sorry I sucked at keeping in touch. I will make up for it when I see you, I promise! Special shoutouts to the IDS Program and all of the 4th years on placement, especially my BFF Jonathan: I hope it's kicking ass and I can't wait to share our awesome experiences when I see you all!
- Big ups (haha, I haven't used that phrasing since high school) to my family in Aussieland, and especially the Terrible Two... you know who you are. Thanks for vouching to my parents that I was alive and making me fatter than I already was.
- WUSC Botswana staff (Philip, Chillie, One, Mmapaseka, Veronica, Theresa and Ona)-- you guys were always there for me... I mean, you gave me a place to live and all. More than that though, I knew I could always call on you if I had any trouble, and it was nice to know someone was looking out for me. I appreciate it :)
- The Uniterra family, some of the nicest people I've ever come across: Melissa (hot mama), Anouk, Nadia, Lila, the lovely Kenny and Gayle, Emilie, Blair... you guys were welcoming from the moment I met you, and it was great to have people to laugh and complain with. Best of luck with everything!
- All of the SWB and Coady volunteers that I was lucky enough to cross paths with. There are way too many of you to name individually, but y'all were my home away from home. So many moments of laughter and Life is Good lists. I have to give a special, SPECIAL shoutout to those who were lucky enough to get to live with me...I love you to bits! Thanks for putting up with me. It's nice to know I've got friends as great you guys all over Canada, and I'll be making a trip to Ottawa at some point this summer! And of course, I'll keep in touch with you guys. You da bomb.
- The lovely (I need to thesaurus new words... eish!) folks at Baylah. Everyone at management, thanks for taking a chance on me and letting me get involved with such important work. Teen Club volunteers (Mdu, Wetsho etc.), you guys were great to work with. I really really have to thank the Psych and Social Work teams for their collaboration with the Teen Mothers Support Group, you know who you are. And of course, the Teen Club staff. B2, Lorena, Tilly (I'm totally coming back for your wedding to Lemma :D), Saila, Kitty Kat, Mgbechi (the only girl who comes close to out-dancing me), Agatha, Natefo, Chris (my BFF, obviously), and Karen... you made coming into work so much fun, and I learned a hell of a lot from you guys. Don't miss me too much. :)
- Basadi, Esohe (you left way too soon, girl!), Knight, Pearl and of course Señor Scheffers... you guys mean the absolute world to me. Thanks for being my friends when I had none haha. But seriously, I hold you very near and dear to my heart and when I think of Bots, you'll be the first ones to come to mind. A thousand million hugs and kisses to you.
- "The Crew"... my goodness, endless fun you guys are. Jamilio, Leo, Femster, Moabi, Legsie, Lizzie, Sophie, Eddie, Nlume, Tapiwa/Pamela & Jess: you guys made my last few months there soooooo worth it. Thanks for taking the "Maple Leaves" into your circle... oh yeah, I went there. Best of luck to those off doing amazing things in September, and I totally wanna see where you guys are at in like, 5 years. Pretty sure you won't get any hotter than you are already. Seriously though, you are a sexy bunch. And tell TC I said holla ;)
- Random assortment of people: Stuart, Mpheezy, Skills, Thobo... :D :D :D
- PB, you get a special mention. Good luck finding someone to incessantly annoy as much as you did me. I'd never say this to your face, but you're probably the best person I know. Unless you're smacking me in the face with that god-awful Grimace Glove.
- And last but not least, the teens of Teen Club. I was supposed to go in and "help" you, but I ended up taking back so much more. You are the bravest, smartest and funniest people I know when you're not annoying the heck out of me. And to the Teen Leaders in particular: your futures are so, so bright. I can't wait to see which one of you finally overthrows Ian Khama (oops).
Phew. That's a lot of people. But I was and am lucky enough to have you all in my life. Please, please forgive me if I forgot to put you in. This is technically supposed to be my last post, but I have a bunch more written about my adventures of the past few months which will go up after this one. If I can actually muster up the strength to finish them...
Go siame, it's been a hell of a ride!