I recently returned back to Swaziland from spending 5 weeks back in the US on what Peace Corps calls my “Home Leave.” It is a time whereby Peace Corps gives us 30 days off and a plane ticket home to spend time with friends and family before starting our 3rd year extension. We are allowed to take it any time during our 3rd year but all 4 of us choose to go home over the holidays. Lucky for me I was able to fit Thanksgiving, my 28th Birthday and Christmas in while I was home. It was the perfect trip home especially since I have not been back in the USA since I left for Swaziland in June of 2014.
|Quick trip to St. Lucia SA before starting work again|
The trip started with 4-hour drive to Johannesburg on the morning of November 20th where I would spend the night and prepare for my flights the next day. It took an evening flight to Frankfurt, Germany the next day, followed by a flight across the pond to Chicago where it was a short trip to Portland, Oregon arriving the evening of November 23rd. After 4 full days I was finally on US soil and greeted by my parents and aunt in arrivals. It was great to see them was looking forward to the next 5 weeks at home, but first needed to end the journey with a 4 hour drive over the hill to Bend, Oregon in the snow. First time seeing snow for over 2 years also, my body was missing the warmth of Swaziland already.
The next few weeks flew by with Thanksgiving at home and a visit from my cousin from Portland and her roommate followed by a day of skiing at Mt. Bachelor, then a presentation of my Peace Corps experience in Swaziland so far at Central Oregon Community College. After that it was off for my week long adventure up to Seattle, Winter Park, Denver, back to Seattle then finally down to Portland and back home. It was a quick trip to celebrate my birthday with my best friend from University up in Seattle then I was able to meet another Peace Corps volunteer I served with in Swaziland in Winter Park where we spent a few days enjoying the snow. After that spent a day in Denver visiting another good friend from the college days before back to Seattle and home to Bend. It was a blessing to have the opportunity to visit my friends and do the things I got to do while I was home. Friends will come in and out of our lives I have realized and the true friends are the ones who after 2 years you can reunite like you just saw them yesterday. This trip was full of blessings and God beginning to shape this next year for me and bring me back to the person he had intended. The last few weeks at home was spent relaxing and enjoying the time with family, eating as much Mexican food as I could and drinking as much good beer as I could (I did return to Swaziland with a little extra weight then I left, but that will change real fast), downloading new movies and shows to keep me going for the next 9 months in Swaziland and appreciating the support of my family around me. I was able to attend a gathering of RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) in Portland and share with them Swaziland and what Peace Corps is doing there just before Christmas. Christmas was then spent low key with my grandparents visiting from Arizona, some bowling and billiards, and church time. It was the perfect Christmas and so lucky to have been able to spend it at home surrounded by family for the first time in a few years. The trip went by way to fast and before I knew it I was preparing for the journey back to Swaziland again. The packing this time was much easier as the majority of my newly acquired extra bag consisted of tortillas, hot sauce, shoes and sweets for back in Swaziland. Goodbyes are always hard and yet another goodbye to my parents and brother but knowing I will see them much sooner this time still didn’t make it much easier. My brother will be starting his 3 month long journey to Peru and over to South Africa and Swaziland so I will be expecting him for a month in March here in Swaziland. My contract will be ending in September so wherever God leads me next I know I will be able to have a visit home again in November. So be expecting me then everyone who I missed this last trip home. The leg home started early in the morning on December 27th with a shuttle to Portland in the snow yet again. There was snow on the ground for the entirety of my time home except for the first few days I arrived in Oregon. It even snowed in Seattle! With that it was a flight from Portland to San Francisco followed by another overnight to London this time. Arrived in London then a long flight down to Johannesburg arriving on the morning of December 29th where I caught a shuttle back to Swaziland, which was stopped for 4 hours in South Africa because they did not have the proper papers, welcome back to South Africa. Finally arriving in Swaziland in the evening I was greeted by my friends again and brought home where we proceeded to catch up for a bit before I was passed out in my bed again back in Swaziland. It felt like I just left Swaziland yesterday.
|Family at Christmas time with the new selfie stick|
|Morning sunrise back in Swaziland|