May 12-June 2
Well, it's again been quite a while since I've put anything up here. In my defense, I was on vacation, and a lovely one it was! Since I didn't actually write any journal entries while I was traveling, here's the condensed version.
I left Burkina on May 12th and flew to France, spending several days with my parents eating amazing food (and cheese!), walking around Paris, shopping, touring the countryside, learning about making champagne, and just relaxing and enjoying amenities like clean toilets and washing machines. I wasn't able to indulge in as much of the wine tasting as I would have liked, due to being on antibiotics for a staph infection I picked up just days before leaving Burkina, but what I did try I really enjoyed. It was actually a little chilly, compounded by my complete lack of appropriate clothing for any weather below 70 degrees, but we managed alright.
On the 17th I hopped on another plane, this one bound for Washington D.C. I ended up sharing the flight with Puja, another Burkina PCV from my stage, so we blocked the aisle for a while standing and catching up. We were on the new A380, a truly jumbo jet that seats over 500 people and was surprisingly spacious and comfortable even in coach. I was met at the airport with great enthusiasm by Katie Brown! We spent the day catching up, shopping (the mall is so overwhelmingly large!), and touring her new apartment that she shares with her awesome boyfriend Christopher and her cat-who-thinks-he's-a-dog, Loki. They brought me up to speed on popular internet and pop culture phenomena like the newest songs by the “I'm On A Boat” guys, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Symphony of Science.
The 18th we hopped in the car and drove up to South Hadley, MA to our 2-year college reunion! I know a 2-year reunion is rather unusual, but we both loved getting to see our friends from the class of 2012 graduate, as well as knowing a handful of people who were there at their 5 year reunion (the seniors our freshman year). I spent several amazing days just cocooned in love and smiles. It was overwhelming in the best way to see and catch up with so many wonderful classmates who are all doing such impressive things with their lives. Plus it was just fun to see Katie and Christopher nerding out at Neil deGrasse Tyson being the commencement speaker.
The 20th I was picked up by my cousin Melissa in her speedy, shiny Mini Cooper and off we went to Albany. She asked me to be James' godmother ages ago, and the time had finally come to do the baptism while I was conveniently close by. It was a small ceremony but very touching, and we related it to Aunt Sue the next day in great detail, complete with iPhone photos. I got to spend a few days relaxing and eating well with Melissa and Eric, always a welcoming place to stay, and then it was time for yet another change of location!
Very early the 23rd I flew across the country to San Francisco to see Sunyata. It was so much fun to be back in the Bay Area, particularly because this time it wasn't quite as cold as it was in December! Not to say that it wasn't cold, I did end up borrowing a coat and wearing it over my jacket most of the time, but there were at least a few times when it wasn't totally necessary. We took the dogs to the dog park and watched them swim, played with the kitties, visited museums and parks, toured UCSF's nursing school, drove up to Elk and made an ice cream cake for Sunyata's birthday, spent an afternoon at a hot spring, drove back on the beautiful Highway 1 and saw seals, watched the fireworks for the anniversary of the Golden Gate bridge from a tour boat, rode her new scooter (beep!beep!), and walked all over San Francisco. It was so hard to leave, but I'm really grateful I got the chance to visit one more time before coming back to Burkina for my last 6 months.
On the 1st we woke up at a ridiculous hour to get to the airport and put me on a plane to Boston, where I caught my return flight to Burkina via Paris. Lo and behold, another familiar face in Paris! This time I got to hang out with Anna, another PCV from my stage who was returning from visiting her family. We got into Ouaga and into the airport building just in time for a huge dust storm to hit, a red swirling cloud that blocked out the sun and the airplanes parked next to the building. I thought my bag had been lost but it finally appeared several nerve-wracking minutes after the rest of the bags had been claimed by their owners, and Saidou took us home to the Transit House.