The Biggest Surprise Ever!

I know I’ve been silent the past few weeks, and there’s a very good reason for that.  You see, I’ve been in the USA!

I’ve known for a few months that I would be going home to Iowa in July/August, but I chose to keep it a secret so I could surprise all my friends and family, primarily my father.  Only my Mom and sister were in on the surprise.  On the 25th of July, I border my flight in Johannesburg, landing back home in Iowa on the 26th, where my Mom kept me sequestered at home for the day.  On the 27th, my Mom and I drove to meet my Dad at the end of RAGBRAI, which is a bike ride across Iowa.  I surprised him at the finish line, which was an incredible experience.  He certainly didn’t expect to see his daughter from South Africa at the end of RAGBRAI….speechless for sure!!

Since then I’ve been enjoying life in the States.  I have a month at home before I head back for my third year of service, designated Home Leave by Peace Corps.  PC bought my ticket and granted me 30 days of leave, which I am exceedingly grateful for.  Good food, family, friends, and all the familiarity of home….I’ll post some pictures in the coming days!

-Jen

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Thanksgiving, Peace Corps Style

I am enjoying my food!!

I am enjoying my food!!

Thanksgiving meal!

Thanksgiving meal!

Last year, I had an amazing Thanksgiving with Lorato, our principals, and our host families. It was a great experience, but this year I decided I wanted to have a PCV Thanksgiving. Though I had seen SA24 in October at MST, I won’t see them all again until COS conference in May. So I wanted to gather with some of my SA24s before we start leaving 6-8 months from now. (WHAT?!) So I arranged to join the Kuru Crew in Kuruman for Thanksgiving, which is about 150km from Vryburg, my shopping town.

Tumi and P being goofy.

Tumi and P being goofy.

In order to not miss so much school, we had a belated Thanksgiving. However, though it wasn’t on the actual day, the Thanksgiving spirit was alive! The woman who owns the Kuru Kuru guest house cooked a very American Thanksgiving for us (and she is South African, btw). She made turkey, stuffing, green beans, gravy, corn cake things, a cold salad, mac and cheese, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and apple pie. A PCV even contributed a can of Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce, which her family had mailed! It was a delicious meal, enhanced by fall decorations, hay bales, and a big scarecrow. I was astounded at the effort Suzette made for us to enjoy a truly American Thanksgiving. And being around my PCV family was heartening, to say the least.

Oratile talking and Omphile keeping P away from her food. ;)

Oratile talking and Omphile keeping P away from her food. 😉

I spent a second night in Kuruman so I could travel through Vryburg with Tumi and P, friends of mine. I actually moved to another guest house, Mynhuis (colloquially called Mayonnaise by PCVs, due to its Afrikaans pronunciation. I met an incredibly Afrikaans lady named Corey who was born to be a hostess. She even picked me, Tumi, and P up at Pick N Pay after we did our shopping, all the way on the other side of town. I ended up staying in a room by myself (a 3 room suite with a loft-ha! African guest houses are sooooo nice) and had a good night relaxing and enjoying the First World.

J and Tumi chatting enthusiastically! (J may have had 3/4 of a bottle of wine by this point).

J and Tumi chatting enthusiastically! (J may have had 3/4 of a bottle of wine by this point).

Popping into First World South Africa makes me thankful for those luxuries, but also grateful for the simple life I’m able to have in Peace Corps. That simple life can be frustrating, but it helps me grow as a person.

Thanksgiving amongst other PCVs was a great way to spend the holiday, and probably one of the most unique ways I will ever spend a Thanksgiving. And it makes me even more excited to spend Christmas with my white SA family (not my host family), and New Years with another PCV, RPCV (Returned PCV aka finished with service), and friends. I can’t spend the holidays with my family, but I can spend them with my PCV and SAfrican families.
-Jen

Thanksgiving, American style!

Thanksgiving, American style!

Dessert: pumpkin pie and a girl scout cookie.

Dessert: pumpkin pie and a girl scout cookie.

Thanksgiving Photos

I had to use a hammer and screwdriver to open the green beans because there was no can opener...

I had to use a hammer and screwdriver to open the green beans because there was no can opener…

A few pictures from our SA Thanksgiving celebration!

Lorato is stuffing the turkey...yum.

Lorato is stuffing the turkey…yum.

Our dinner in progress!

Our dinner in progress!

The table set with all our delicious food. Time to dig in!

The table set with all our delicious food. Time to dig in!

Post turkey haze.

Post turkey haze.