Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Counting down

I've been counting down for longer than I'd care to admit, but as of when I write this (July 24), I have five weeks in site and just over six until I leave Honduras. I've been "in country" for more than two years now, and in the final stretch, a period of limbo between my second anniversary and when I actually leave, having completed my ostensible two year commitment. That training period messes all those calculations up.

Now, nearing the end, I have to change my mindset and behaviors. Whereas before, I bought food and other supplies for the long haul, I've now got to balance buying enough versus too much for the short time I have left. For a long while, I've been out of book-acquisition mode, focusing on reading what I have--I'm never going to make it through it all--and getting books out of my house, to pass on to someone who will enjoy them. A few weeks ago, I delivered a large, heavy backpack's worth of New Yorkers, Atlantics and Economists as well as a handful of assorted book sto Santa Rosa where at least they will be glanced through. (My goal in all of this isn't that this all be saved, necessarily, but that I not be the one to throw it away.)

I'll also be getting rid of other items, and while some are take-it-or-leave-it (who wants my two broken plastic deck chairs?) many items are in demand, chiefly among them my refrigerator (Jack has dibs) and my electric stove, even if it kind of melts the insulation on the wire when the left burner heats up for too long. Other things (empty glass jars I was saving for some unknown purpose, the tortilla maker I inherited from Leo) I've given away already, but most of the rest I'm hanging onto until the the last possible moment. My water pump, for instance, I plan on using until the bitter end here. Also, it's some sentiment that makes me not want to think I'm really done here, or even winding down, though I certainly am.

It's certainly ambivalent for me here in the final stretch. On the one hand, I feel as if I still have more work to do here. On the other hand, so many things are just so difficult here--shopping, communications, travel, even bathing requires 20 minutes' lead time to heat the water--that I'm ready to go. Lately I've been telling myself, "I don't have to live like this--and in two months, I won't."

My plan for now is to leave San Manuel for good on August 28 and make it to Santa Rosa de Copán, erstwhile home of the Peace Corps House, and see Barack Obama give his acceptance speech from the Convention in Denver. Either that same night or the next, there will be the Noche de Fumadores (Smokers' Night), the annual party sponsored by the local cigar factory. I will, of course, not be smoking, but it's evidently a fun event and something I'd might as well hit on my grand tour on the way out. So between August 29 and September 1, I make my way to Tegucigalpa, where I have COS processing, including a battery of medical tests (we need to produce three stool samples, and something approaching half a gallon of blood, I'm told), canceling my Honduran residency, closing my bank accounts here, taking a final Spanish-proficiency exam, filling out various forms documenting my time here and describing my site. That runs September 2-5, and then on September 6, I will be catching a plane back to the U.S.A. Best guess, "Welcome Home" committees should be at baggage claim at RDU around 4:30 p.m.

UPDATE: The countdown is now three weeks until leaving San Manuel and just over four to arrival in the U.S.

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Anonymous Kathryn said...

You can have a sale of all the stuff you don't want to the people in your town. I made a lot of lempiras selling everything from extra towels to shoes that I had planned on throwing away. One man's trash is another person's treasure...

5:07 PM  

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