We Can Only Speculate
I've left Burkina and am back in Dallas, in case you haven't guessed. So it's time to begin the wrap on this blog. To begin a final series of postings, I thought I'd begin at the beginning. Yes, we'll get to the accomplishments, sad goodbyes, and all of that; and I'll strive to see that future postings won't be such a departure from West Africa. That said, how did I end-up in West Africa with a blog entitled We Can Only Speculate
? One word: Penguins!
I like penguins. No, I love
penguins. I remember the days of Jacques Cousteau on PBS and I well recall his penguin specials. Iâve been asked by many dear friends (including those of you who endured my ten months of meltdowns back in 2009), âfrom whence did this Peace Corps idea spring?â
I realize was a surprise to some of you. Youâve asked, âHow on earth did this happen?â
Hereâs the long-winded and relatively boring (albeit bizarre and oh-so-Kathy
Once upon a time not very so long ago I used to sit at my desk during lunch time and watch the Monterrey Bay Aquarium
âs live, noon-time feeding of their penguins. Remember, Iâm a penguin-holic
. The addiction reached its height back in the days after Hurricane Katrina when the New Orleans penguins (including the grand dame of penguins, Patience
) were housed at Monterrey Bay. So Iâd sit and smile watching the penguin feeding while listening to the live Internet commentary. One day I realized what fun it would be to see penguins in their natural habitat. True, the Antarctic might be a bit too far. Then again, maybe not . . . one day. So where could I go to see penguins like they have at Monterrey Bay? Where could I go to see the South African Blackfoot penguin? âTis with shame that I confess: the answer took days to discover. Where could I go to see South African penguins? Seems rather obvious, doesnât it? South Africa
, of course, Kathy. And thus I instigated my plan to travel to Boulderâs Beach, just south of Cape Town in South Africa.
One day a dear co-worker, originally from South Africa, said to me, âKathy, you canât go all the way to Southern Africa without going on safari.â
Safari!? What? Hmm. Well, I suppose it might be possible, right? And thus began an entire new twist on the penguin-viewing trip . . . and another of those life-altering experiences.
From the moment I stepped off the plane in Cape Town I was in love with Africa. By the time I arrived in Maun, Botswana, I was head-over-heels in love with Africa - the culture, the people, the land, itself.
Next step. I arrived back in Texas in the summer of 2007 in love with Africa and already making plans to return. In fact, I did return less than a year later . . . the 2008 trip back with Rusty to Botswana and South Africa. This time I returned to Texas resolved to move permanently to Botswana . . . one day. Then the U.S. job market fell apart and I was suddenly unemployed for the first time in my life.
After months of job hunting in 2009 I decided that I should look into volunteering. Maybe SANCOOB
needed volunteers to wash penguins. Maybe HOORC
needed help in Botswana. I finally contacted Cross-Cultural Solutions about a position in Bagamoyo, Tanzania (one of those âyou pay, you get to goâ volunteer programs). On June 30, 2009, I received a telephone call from the director of CCS. After a lengthy conversation she said to me, âKathy, why arenât you talking to the Peace Corps?â
Well, the obvious reason â I donât have an MD, RN, Ph.D., or MBA behind my name. Why would the Peace Corps want me?
A quick Internet search seemed to indicate that the Peace Corps might indeed be interested in me. Wouldnât hurt to try . . . and perhaps theyâd even consider a post in Africa. And thus the saga began. So when it came time to create this blog, with myriad questions of whether or not Iâd ever even receive an invitation to serve (LOL), where would I go, and how would I last 820 days without a flat iron, the choice for the name of this blog was, naturally, We Can Only Speculate.
These days I like to believe that I'm mentoring a few current Peace Corps nominees. I'd like to share a few tips and tricks of my service in Burkina Faso and my love of the people and culture. Am I really helping current nominees? Maybe. My current very-real question: How long before I return to visit Yaya and his family, Martin, Leon & Elizabeth, and little Victorine and her family? We can only speculate . . .
but I'm hoping next spring.