Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I'm a Lucky (Wo)man

When I think back to two years ago - in January of 2011 - oh my goodness, I had my life all planned out. I had one semester to go, I was going to graduate in May, join the Peace Corps in September & be on my merry lil' way in life.

Oh, but life is so unpredictable.

Yes, I graduated. Yes, I joined the Peace Corps. But so many things happened along the way and in between.

The Peace Corps delayed my trip from September to January. I attended a life changing "Humanism in Medicine" medical elective at Gesundheit!Institute with Patch Adams. My Peace Corps trip to Guatemala in January was cancelled. I found an incredible job opportunity with the Office of Diversity at the Anschutz Medical Campus.

And then… I fell in love. Before moving to Botswana for the Peace Corps.

Needless to say, I never saw that coming. And the girl who always swore she was too independent to go to the Peace Corps with a boyfriend ended up with one :o)

When I envisioned my time in the Peace Corps… call me crazy but I didn't even imagine that I would have vacation time. Is that insane? So many people dream of all the fun travels they will have during their Peace Corps service - and I can honestly say I never thought about it until arriving in Botswana. And even then, I never thought two weeks of my vacation would be in Europe.

This blog post is more than a bit belated, as I returned from my European adventures in the first week of January. I think other Peace Corps volunteers can relate to the "post vacation blues" though… it was quite an adjustment to come back to my village life, and because of that, it has taken me a full three weeks to figure out how to write about my experiences.

So here goes!

Michael's mom (Tammy) & step-dad (Tim)moved to Germany a few years back & since I've never been to Germany, I've obviously never met Michael's parents. A month after arriving in Botswana, Michael's mom purchased tickets for Michael and I to come visit them in Germany over the holidays… a difficult offer to refuse! I knew spending the holidays with Michael & his family would be a nice break from my life in Botswana & I was excited to have the opportunity to get to know his parents while exploring a bit of Europe as well.

Our trip in a very simplified version:
-We spent the first few days in Germany with his parents - helping them with the last minute planning for a Christmas party.
-Tammy, Tim, Michael & I flew to Paris for a few days to soak in all the beauty the city had to offer. Spent lots of time sight seeing, browsing around the Christmas market & wandering around the city ( I was mesmerized by TALL buildings & architecture… almost everything in Botswana is one story high)
-The four of us spent Christmas day together at home in Germany
-After Christmas, Michael & I went to visit a good friend of mine that I met at the medical elective with Patch Adams in 2011. We spent a few days touring around Genoa, Italy - - eating, drinking & spending time with Sara's family.
-Finished up the trip at home in Germany with Michael's parents, said our good-byes & we all went our separate ways back to our lives in three separate countries… crazy!

Tammy & Tim at the Louve :o) 

The Eiffel Tower at night <3 

Spending time in Italy with Michael! 

spending time with the Patti siblings in Genoa, Italy

Since I've returned from my trip, everyone wants to hear about all the things I saw, all the food I ate, all the culture I experienced. I am pleased to tell people about how much I enjoyed Europe & how the culture in Europe differs from Botswana/USA, but when it comes down to it, I must admit I am in awe of the PEOPLE I was with, not the places I went.

You see, I've come to realize that the people in your life are far more important than the places you go. Of course, I would love to have the time & budget to see every country in the world, but simply visiting those places pales in comparison to seeing those places with people you love.

The Eiffel Tower was breathtaking … but I loved it even more because I was with Michael. Christmas in Germany was cold, crisp & beautiful… but I cherish the memory because of sitting on the floor around the Christmas tree with Tammy, Tim & Michael. Wandering around the back alleyways in Genoa late at night was new and exciting… but being with Sara, Michael & her friends brought laughter and joy to my life.

I fell in love with Europe & I'm itching to go back to see more. But more importantly, I felt loved by Michael & his parents. I enjoyed spending time with all of them, getting to know each of them better, and thanking my lucky stars for all those unpredicted twists & turns in life. I find it hard to imagine a better life for myself & continually find myself in awe of all that I have been blessed with.

A HUGE heartfelt THANK YOU goes out to Tammy & Tim for being so outrageously generous and hospitable. I appreciate your patience with my exclamations of "oh my goodness! Hot water comes out of the taps!" or "You have carpet!" or the moments when I'm lost in thought wondering about why you don't have to dump out your shoes to check for scorpions or shake out the blankets to get rid of cockroaches.

:o) I will always have fond memories of this vacation to Europe during my service & I will forever be thankful for the fabulous cast of characters in my life.

And in the words of Pearl Jam…
"I'm a lucky (wo)man to count on both hands
The ones I love.."

Love & Light,

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