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A man of many words. Profane, profound, loyal to a fault and a right rat bastard. I love the finer things in life: expensive cigars, cheap women and all the salted, cured meats I can eat. A friend to dogs, lover of humanity and despiser of people. If I were King the world would be a better place, because, well...I would be King! Oh, and I like ice cream.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Strange Days

Sixteen days and a wake-up. On May 19th I´ll exit Botswana after two years in the Peace Corps. It doesn´t seem real.

Although at times it felt like it would drag on forever now it feels like we arrived fifteen minutes ago. But as they say, it´s all over but the shoutin´.

I´ve been asked if it was worth it. Would I do it again? Would I recommend it?

And my answer is a resounding yes! Or no. Or maybe. (I'll probably need a couple years of psychotherapy to fully be able to answer that.) Was it life changing? Sure. But no more so than four years in the army, 25 years of marriage, a night on the town, or a good steak. It's just a matter of degree.

So what now lies ahead? What is the ever popular "Way Forward?"

When getting ready to come here I was interviewed by the Columbiana Morning Journal and asked "what are your plans when you finish Peace Corps?" In typical smart-assed style I just said "It shall be revealed unto me."

Here is what has been revealed thus far:

On the 19th Cabrini and I hop a bus for Johannesburg, South Africa, change buses there and move on to
Cape Town. Gonna spend a couple weeks there. Check out Robben Island (UNESCO World Heritage site), where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned during Apartheid times, go diving with Great White Sharks, climb Table Mountain, drink some nice wine, eat good food and get out of there before the World Cup starts. Then we'll fly north to Malawi. Spend a week or so along Lake Malawi, hoping to get a dive or two in what's supposed to be some of the best fresh water diving in the world.

Eventually we'll work our way north back into Tanzania. Our goal is to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, th tallest mountain in Africa (19,350 feet) and the highest in the world climbable without specialized equipment. And yet another UNESCO WH site...

Once we finish that little workout we basically plan on flying to Cairo to complete the Cape Town to Cairo trip. After visiting the ancient piles of rocks outside Giza it's back to America.

At least that´s the general plan. We might get sidelined by gorillas, guerillas or some other offerings of Afreaka. But all in all looking for an early July return. Then it gets interesting.

I haven't seen my son Mick since December '08 and he's now in Costa Rica doing HIS Peace Corps bit. I'll be zipping down thataway for a couple weeks. Otherwise I'll be frantically re-connecting with friends and family as Cabrini does with hers in New York...

...until mid-August. One of our fellow Botswana volunteers is getting married out in Montana on August 14th. Cabrini and I will re-unite to attend the nuptials.

THEN its back to NYC in final prep for our non-stop flight on August 24th, JFK to Beijing. The plan is to spend upwards of a year at Mt. Wu Dang Taoist Academy for the martial arts. Its located on yet another UNESCO WH site. Gonna learn my self some Tai Chi.

After that? Well, kinda back where we were a little over two years ago. "It shall be revealed...yada, yada, yada."

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