The last couple of weeks have been truly chaotic. Almost exactly two weeks ago two men were kidnapped from a bar in Niamey, Niger. The bar is close to volunteer houses and to the hostel. In the first days following we were given a curfew but otherwise heard little. It is now apparent that Peace Corps Washington was busy during those days conferring on what to do. They decided to evacuate Niger, and I received a call at work Wednesday morning telling me to pack two bags and that I would be leaving in the next two days.
The resulting race to be ready by the time our flight left was a whirlwind. I rushed to say goodbye, see people I needed to see, close my bank account (and the hostel account), give away things from my house, see someone from my village, and pack my two bags. Evidence of the muddled hurry is given by the things that I decided to pack. A sealed package of Earl Grey tea. Another package of tea. Random other things. I slept 5 hours in three days, like many volunteers not sleeping at all on the night before we left.
We left with a security detail early in the morning, and were stunned by the green beauty of Moroccan fields. In our sleep-deprived minds everything was new and vibrant. We arrived at a very nice hotel and promptly had to sit through a ‘cross-culture’ session on Morocco, which, while normally interesting, seemed only barely relevant to us at the time.
Then we started a transfer conference, in which 97 volunteers struggled to figure out what they would like to do in the midst of being ripped from their old life.
The week has involved tears from almost everyone. We wander through the halls desperately trying to finish what needs to be finished, to claw out some tiny island of stability into the sudden emptiness of our lives, but lost and fragile, at times staring into the distance or laughing all too loudly. So little is in our control.
In the end I was offered two possible posts, one to Rwanda and one back to Guinea. In both cases the time commitment desired is more than I feel I can give, so I have decided to COS and head home.
It is a decision fraught with fear of the irrevocable nature of leaving Peace Corps. It is a decision full of the sudden tearing away of my life in Niger. It is a decision with a vast wasteland of future plans. This can be liberating, but also sad.
I am truly grateful for the support of everyone throughout the past couple of weeks. Please forgive me if I have seemed distant, I have been too drained to really talk about much.
As of tomorrow I will no longer be a Peace Corps Volunteer. I will stay in Morocco for a few days, and then I am off to Spain and Portugal..
I’ll have a few more posts about Peace Corps related things, but for the most part, this chapter of my life is finished.