Two Years Gone By

 In what seems like a dream or a blink of an eye, over two years have flown by with the speed of a hummingbird's wings.  The feeling is entirely bittersweet; I'm happy to be coming home to the things that are comfortable and known, yet sad to leave my new home that I've adjusted to and even thrived in.  I spent so long trying to make a place for myself here and now it's time to leave the people, locations, and things that make this culture so vibrant --  Music, food, history, natural beauty.  All of which I'm going to miss (well, the food I can take it or leave it to be honest).  Even though technology is rapidly engulfing the Dominican Republic as it has already overtaken the states, there are parts that still are untouched and undeveloped, pure almost. The tranquility of a rolling stream, the sparkling rays of the sun beaming off of the sea, the lush, green trees that cover the paths with shade. Things that we have to drive hours to find in America are right in my backyard here.  I can walk down the street and get offered a freshly picked orange or banana, a strong, yet small cup of coffee, and a steaming plate of rice, beans and fish, which I know was most likely caught that very morning.  Here I talk to people that aren't concerned with worldly happenings but that of their cousin's motorcycle breaking down or their daughter's most recent pregnancy.  Things are just simpler here and sometimes it's refreshing.  Sure I have, many times, longed for intellectually stimulating conversations with people in my town but I didn't come to Peace Corps for academic purposes I came for a real life experience.  To learn about people and maybe help them along the way.  Who knows how many people I've affected over these past two years but I know there were some and that is good enough for me.  And you know something? I've probably got more out of this experience then what I did for others anyway; an entirely new skill set that even includes speaking Spanish at a conversational level!  I've done things here that I never saw as possible like climb up the highest mountain in the Caribbean for five days or teach a course on sexual health to a room full of 15 year old girls in Spanish.  I translated for medical missions, gave art camps, swam in the clearest colored water you'll ever see, ate chicken intestines, built latrines, lived with three different host families, read over 50 books, danced merengue and bachata like a Dominican, painted murals, sang karaoke in Spanish, planted trees, taught children to read, planned an entire three-day conference, met some of the most interesting people and made some of the best friends I have, both American and Dominican.  All that in two years and now it's time to return home to my country that I know so well but will have to get to reaquainted with, yet again.

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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.