12-22: Up, Up and Away!

Our students came to see us off at the airport.
We left Vanuatu on Friday, December 20th. I tried to use up the credit on my phone as we sat on the runway and got down to 30 vatu before they made me turn my phone off. Jason did better, he was down to 2 vatu.
We spent Friday night with friends in Brisbane. Did you know there is this magical box that you put dirty clothes in and they come back clean and halfway dried? That thing is full of black magic and miracles. Our friends let us use their washing machine and drier, though half the clothes ended up on the line anyway because the dried was too small to dry all the clothes.
Saturday morning, we flew to Darwin. We are now off on our grand adventure! We’ll be traveling for the next few months. The general plan is to spend about 2 weeks in different Southeast Asian countries. We leave for Bali, Indonesia on the 23rd where we have a room booked until the 26th. On the 5th, we fly from Jakarta, Indonesia to Singapore. We leave Singapore three days later by bus and head into Malaysia. That’s as far as we have planned.
Red rocks along the road in Darwin

Leaving has not been easy. First of all, we both worked up until the end. I spent all day Monday and Tuesday at work, then stopped by on Thursday for a last review with my counterpart. Jason worked Tuesday and part of Wednesday and stopped by Thursday for an exit interview with his principal. So, we’ve been cleaning out the house, packing up and saying our goodbyes around a more-or-less 40-hour a week schedule. Insanity.

Smol spel from wandering the streets.

The emotional part of leaving is a combination of unreal and bittersweet. I don’t real believe that I won’t be returning to Vila in a few weeks. Jason hasn’t realized that he won’t be drinking fresh kava again for a very long time. The moments that have made it real are odd. My mother’s worries about contacting us was one. Usually, we call about once a week and I sit outside the Peace Corps office and tell her about all the insanity that made up my life. Now, we will be reliant on skype and email. (We may have a phone while traveling but it will vary country by country, depending on the price of phones plans and SIM cards.) Jason closing his bank account was final for him. They let him keep his cards, though. (They took mine, but I didn’t ask for them back.)

In many ways, the “big” things really didn’t feel big to me. Wan SmolBag did a very nice little goodbye. There was awesome cake. They gave me a t-shirt and set of Love Patrol as well as a tablecloth and napkin set in Vanuatu style. I got calicoed but not baby powdered. (Traditionally, gifts of calico are wrapped around people’s shoulders at these things, then they get baby powder dumped on their heads.) We did our last kava with staff and volunteers on Thursday evening. A bunch of people came out, but it just felt like a nice evening for a shell. I’ve been to so many last kavas, I don’t think my heart recognized that one as my own. 

I think it will set in more strongly in a few days. Once we are really going and it is clear we really aren’t going back, then it will be real. Right now, I’m just on vacation. 

The view from Shefa Kava Bar where we did our last kava with staff and many, many other kavas over the last three years.

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