Whirlwind America

Trip Start Dec 01, 2007
Trip End Mar 27, 2010

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Where I stayed
Ocean Village Club

Flag of United States  , Florida
Monday, October 13, 2008

Before I start what has happened during my vacation I'd like to make a few observations. Coming back hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be. My stomach has behaved and the culture shock that I thought I would experience hasn't happened. It was like a never left. America was exactly same...who woulda thought? The roads are still smooth, the toilets still flush and people can still be really unfriendly for no reason.  What's changed most is me.  I  came off the plane smiling at everyone and the customs man asked, a little peeved, why are you so happy? Who wouldn't be happy? You live in America! I feel more confidant and less concerned what anyone thinks of me. My sense of style has definitely changed. Why does Sarah Palin think it's ok to show her knees...I mean seriously? My politics have morphed. I won't go into detail because politics are always touchy but more so right now. My politics have evolved because my priorities have shifted. I think that was inevitable living the way I do and seeing what I see. Most Americans go through their lives with a very American-centric world view. In our connected world it's impossible not to think the decisions we make here affect everyone else in the world. It's a huge responsibility. Those are my major observations.
I have one more day left in Florida with my family, but getting to this point has been a trip. I landed in Cincinnati  at 3:00 PM on Oct. 2 where four of my best friends picked me up at the airport with 3 Dr. Peppers and 2 bags of cheetos :). They knew just what I needed after 24 hours of travel. It was so amazing to see them and to finally be in America. After months and months of anticipation I was actually truly here. So we left the airport and Leah took me to Chipotle. Oh how I've missed Chipotle. I ate it for breakfast the next day because I wanted my first meal to be what I've missed the most: a hamburger. We went to Newport on the Levee and I ordered the biggest hamburger on the menu of Johnny Rockets with a delicious coke float. Then we saw The Dark Knight, which was awesome, though I think that might have been what sent Health Ledger over the edge. He was amazingly creepy. Afterwards, Leah and I stayed up until 2AM catching up.
The meds I'm taking to prevent malaria have a few negative side effects: hallucinations, hair loss, no tanning and insomnia. So I slept 4 hours that first night, woke up ready for my first full day of America. The next few days are a complete whirlwind. I tried to get as many errands as possible finished. I visited with family friends. Packed up some stuff from our Indiana house, went out with friends and drove to Florida with Katie. In 96 hours I slept a total of 14. My first day in Florida with my family was spent on the couch and in bed with a massive migraine. It's stayed with me on and off throughout my vacation but never as bad as that first day. I think it's a mixture of exhaustion and stress.
That hasn't stopped me from having a great time. I've spent the majority shopping. Get excited Guinea volunteers, I have a ton of fun presents! I also went to visit my Grandma in Tampa. She's pretty sick and bedridden, not expected to recover. We're really close so it was hard to see her like that. 
My family has recently moved to St. Augustine so I've spent the rest of my time here exploring. I love it here. We've been living in a two bedroom condo on the beach. That's 5 of us kids and mom and dad. It's a little squished and yes, we do get on each other's nerves.  But the beach is amazing and the town is even better. Yesterday we took a tram tour and today mom and I went back for a repeat tour. I also gave my Peace Corps presentation at my brothers' school today. So this is how it works. The third goal of a Peace Corps volunteer is to tell Americans about the country that we serve in. So if we take vacation we can take two days during vacation that don't count against our vacation time if we give a presentation. I made up a Power Point presentation and gave it to the third through seventh grade. They were really attentive and afterwards asked question after question. I showed a picture of a bush taxi with chickens and goats on top. I told them that I have also seen a cow on top of a cab and once I even saw one inside! They loved that and every other question was about the cows, goats and chickens in taxi cabs. Are they alive? Are they squished? Does it dent the roof? Where are they going, etc. My brother Jonathan's teacher has asked me back for tomorrow just for his third grade class. They had a lot more questions that I didn't get to. I'm excited. I had a lot of fun today.
I only have five days left in the great United States of America and most of that will be spent doing wedding stuff so look forward to another blog from Paris about the wedding.
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