Well, we're officially back at home in the USA after a whirlwind of traveling. After Peace Corps Mali was evacuated to Ghana, this is what we did:
|Beach hostel near Butre, Ghana|
We headed West on the coast of Ghana to a remote beach hostel and then a less-remote beach town. Highlights were final moments with Peace Corps friends, watching a Champions League soccer game at backstreet bar with Ghanians going wild, a hike to the next beach to surf, and a $2.50 lobster dinner behind a fisherman's house cooked by his sister.
|12'x12' tree house we rented|
|Brunch at Victoria's|
|On the Rhein in Basel, Switzerland|
|The Rigi near Lake Lucerne|
|Out for a drive in my uncle's 'new' ride|
|1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III|
|The princess in her chariot (with throw pillows)|
My aunt and uncle took us on some wonderful tours of sites throughout German speaking Switerland as well as over the border into France and Germany on day-trips. My uncle shared some of his vast knowledge of sight-seeing history and family history throughout the week.
|Day trip to Riquewihr in Alsace, France with my aunt|
|Animal preserve in Alsace|
|Mouret from the old city wall|
|Day trip through central Switzerland with my uncle|
|First snow sighting in 15 months|
We had a blast spending time with my family, and were even able to pick up my cousin from school in Lucerne for a weekend of tram, train, and a ferry rides in beautiful locations, as well as a pottery market in Germany. Our Swiss relatives are VERY fun hosts.
|Lucerne (with Montana hotel in the background, top right)|
|Waiting to go up Mt. Rigi|
|Patio dining in Basel|
We didn't suffer in the food department. My aunt is an incredible cook, and fed us gastronomic wonders every day. I wish I had taken more food pictures, particularly of her skate wings and horse steak, which were my absolute favorites (maybe of all dishes in my life, no joke).
|Austrian bread pudding|
After Switzerland we jumped on the train to Paris where we found the General. Joe, better known as the General in most circles, and his girlfriend Adrianne had come from visiting another Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal. They originally had a ticket from Senegal to Mali to visit us, but settled on Paris after the coup. We only had two full days in Paris, but packed in the fun wandering around the city. The General and I managed to pull an all-nighter before our flight back to the US. It was really fun to see him and to meet Adrianne.
|With the General in Paris|
|Arc de Triomphe|
|My favorite cafe in Paris|
|Had fun with the General's girlfriend, Adrianne|
|Back to basics|
In DC we had a wonderful weekend with my brother, Tom, and his girlfriend, Laura. They fed us well, and tried to catch us up on 2011-2012 new media and gizmos like Apple TV. I also went the wrong way on a one-way major parkway with my brother's car, which was scary.
We are now in Montana, getting spoiled again by Anna's family and friends. It is nice to no longer be living out of a suitcase and have a real bed and some of our clothes and things back. While so many things are easier here due to lack of cultural and language barriers, there are some complicated things I didn't miss like the DMV and forms at a doctor's office. Our confusing travel/residence history really complicates things with the paper-pushers at these places.
We are starting to process what actually happened in the past two months and what our experience means for us. We are also trying to come up with a game plan for the future. I had envisioned many hours of thinking about our next move in life in our mud hut through 2013, but we have to figure it out on the ground here. First we are road-tripping around the US this summer, then possibly work and/or school this Fall.
|Settling in, back in Montana, May 10th 2012|