Trip Start Jun 02, 2003
Trip End Dec 31, 2006

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Flag of France  ,
Sunday, August 14, 2005

Well, I've done it. I have completed my Peace Corps service. I am now a (not quite) Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. I COSed (Close Of Service) on Friday, August 5th, and I left on Sunday August 7th. I had left my village about a week and a half before my COS date. I headed down to Cotonou and then to Lokossa to say goodbye to my host family. Then, it was back to Cotonou to do all the Peace Corps paperwork (close bank accounts, last interviews, medicals checks, etc.). It was a crazy last week.

I think if I go into details, I might start crying once again, but I will say that leaving was not easy. A huge crew of folks, including a couple of my best friends who came down from Parakou to Cotonou and my host mom who came from Lokossa, came to say goodbye to Kelley, Harry, and I at the airport. It was very stressful because we had some excess baggage problems, some not so nice check-in folks, etc. Thank goodness Harry and Kelley were there. I was a big mess, and they were a big comfort.

Anyway, we arrived in France safely (with passage through Lybia...more on that in a future update). Harry and Kelley, after one night in Paris during which our plans to go out on the town were foiled by some Pizza Hut pizza in the hotel and then utter exhaustion, took a plane to Boston. I stayed on to visit some folks in France. And here I am, still visiting.

It is FREEZING COLD here!!! What happened to summer time!!!? I went to the Alps first and had to charge a polar fleece shirt and scarf to a credit card, and I am tempted to purchase some close-toed shoes as well. I have none! I haven't worn anything but sandals for the past two years! It was good to see my French family there and to hike some in the mountains. Maybe I cleared my lungs of all the Cotonou pollution.

Now, I am with Sandrine and family in Strasbourg, where I spent my year abroad. As usual, Sandrine is a great hostess.

Assuming British Airways doesn't have anymore problems, I will be leaving Paris on the 17th for Heathrow (egads!), spend one night in London with my friend Helen, then fly to Boston on the 18th. Speaking of anyone who has a car and lives in Boston available to come pick me up at the airport around 1:00 p.m. on the 18th? Also, does anyone have a couch I can sleep on for the 18th and the 19th? I can't move into my new place until the 1st of September. Bostonians, email me if you can answer yes to any of those questions, per piacere. Molto grazie.

By the way, thanks to all those folks who have sent me job announcements and other important info to help prepare me for my return. I have sent out resumes accordingly. We'll see what happens. I feel confident that I will get something, though, especially since my friend, the voudon chief, Daty, told me just before I left, "Suzanne, you will find a job." And I said, "I know, I know. I am sure I will find something." And he stared me straight in the eyes, and he said, "No, Suzanne, you WILL find a job. And if I tell you you WILL find a job, that means that it is certain that you WILL find a job. Believe me. I know these things." So, with Daty's assurance and all the support I have already received from my friends, I am sure that the gods will start raining down jobs upon me as soon as I step off the plane in Boston. Horray! I will certainly need multiple jobs, as I have an exorbitant rent to pay right off the bat. Plus, I have absolutely no furniture (help!), a sparse amount of clothes (which are not suited for the upcoming fall/winter weather), and no close-toed shoes. And, unfortunately, the resettlement allowance that Peace Corps provides has already been halfway used up to pay past debts. Ah well, as they say in Benin, Dieu fera. (God will provide.) or maybe gods...

In the meantime, it is time for me to hit the rainy streets of Strasbourg in search of my favorite crepe stand for an incredibly delicious and long-awaited nutella and banana crepe.

More updates to come........
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