Sometime after despair faded a bit—when just a bit of confidence had dawned that I can be happy in this country and that I might just be better off for having lived here, Christmas came. Now, keep in mind, there are two calendars in this country, and I can’t really say which calendar we were functioning on today, but today was the first delivery of packages from Nouakchott since moving to Aleg, seven weeks ago. It was Christmas.
While folks back home relayed doubt and exhaust after the length of time it took for packages to arrive, I tried to convince my loved ones that yes, indeed, the packages would eventually come. Well—I was more or less begging them not to lose faith in the postal system, because I would obviously be at a loss for receiving packages if they stopped trying to send them. In truth, I wasn’t too sure the packages would make any short or direct trip to Nouakchott or Aleg, even though I was assured by volunteers that packages always came. Well, they come eventually.We originally had been expecting packages yesterday. After finding out that they would be delayed until today, this morning nearly every volunteer in the Brakna region (and a few visitors from afar) sat, anxiously waiting the Peace Corps van—coming at noon, coming at noon, coming at noon. We all joked that it was Christmas in Brakna, but I talked with another volunteer after the gift-opening, and we agreed that it was just a little bit better than Christmas—everything in the boxes was a bit more touching, everything everyone else received was that much more exciting, and no gift was too small or strange. I got a sonogram of my niece, who’s now long-since born, and a drawing from my nephew, which pretty much broke my heart. French textbooks that will help me and a few of the others who don’t have golden, fluent Français. Mashed potatoes and jerky and any number of munchables and sanity savers. What I really mean to say is thank you Christa and Mom, thank you, everyone—