For 15 days I was back in the States and got a chance to see family and friends, including a stop in Texas to see my brother. Family from France, El Salvador, and California were in town and it was a good time to come home. Although when I first started I hadn't anticipated going back to visit, it did feel good to come home for a bit, and in terms of events and people being in town, it was perfect timing. The UofM Fencing Club continued their record of never placing lower than 3rd since the creation of Fencing Club Nationals about 7 or 8 years ago by placing 3rd overall with outstanding individual performances by certain teammates including Lindsey Balfour and Jacob Trithart. I also had an opportunity to speak to a RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) who had served in Madagascar and is currently my sister's high school French teacher. Everybody had questions, and although I found myself repeating myself over and over again, each time I spoke about what I am doing and my experiences, I understood more and more what I am really doing and why I am doing it, so although for the most part I was repeating myself, each repetition was unique according to the person I was speaking to and what I had been speaking about in the past conversation. Either way, I was incorporating the 2nd Peace Corps objective, which is to bring the culture and experiences back to the United States.
A perk of coming back was being cold again. The temperature in Texas was perfect, around 80/85 but it was funny to see myself switching roles in Michigan. Whereas before, after a long winter, I would feel good and wear only a t-shirt in 45 degree weather and be amused by those wearing large coats and gloves, now, my body seems to be acclimated to 90 degrees, and I had to wear 2 jackets and kept a cap in my pocket just in case. Unfortunately, I hadn't fully experienced true hot season, and coming back to Mali was intense. Probably one of the most energy sapping things I have ever done is taking a bus from Bamako to San, which I got on at 7:00am and got off at 1:00pm. There was a thermometer on the bus, as with the other volunteer traveling with me, we slowly watched as the temperature climbed from 90 to 115. Even though the two of us slept almost the entire bus ride, we both crashed after arriving at the stage house and I ended up taking a 3 hour nap later.
But by far the best part of the trip was spending time with friends and family. Although I know I don't always express it as well as I should, I feel incredibly lucky to have the people around me that I do. The friends that I have made, especially those in Ann Arbor, are people for whom I'd do anything. I might be repeating one of my first blog posts, but coming back and leaving again really demonstrated how fortunate I am. Not everyone has parents that are willing to support them in every endeavor or go to such lengths as mine. Expressing this appreciation isn't my forte, and unfortunately I drop the ball... seemingly regularly, but that doesn't change the way I feel.
Anyways, excited to get back, I'm attending a traditional Bwa (the primary ethnic group in the area) wedding tomorrow and there's a week-long cultural festival around May 15th. Hopefully I can start my garden and get some other work done before the students leave for their summer break (harvest season).