To Be Thankful in 2020

Two years of host family living, in Armenia

Most of you know me as a Peace Corps or Americorps senior citizen, volunteering my services, now that I’m retired. Travel has always been a big part of my volunteer experience. Today, I’m looking back at my travel days of old.

Detroit vs Everyone

I grew up in Detroit. So, after living in the housing projects there, I figured I could live anywhere in the world. Hence, my blog post is named GhettoGirlTravels. I had my mom sign me into the United States Air Force, when I was seventeen. I’ve been traveling ever since.

If it’s good enough for Simon Le Bon …

Looking back, at some recent travel pictures, I’ve noticed that I tend to vacation near large bodies of water. Being landlocked, while serving in Armenia, made the idea of a summer trip to Sri Lanka all the more appealing. My first stop was a Duran Duran road trip, to one of their music videos locations. Anthony Bourdain had just recently died, so a pilgrimage to the Galle Face Hotel, in Colombo, was in order. Bourdain had drinks there, while filming a segment of Parts Unknown. It felt fitting to do the same.

The Blue Lagoon, between PC Armenia and PC Ethiopia

One of the best parts of Peace Corps service was being able to pick vacation spots, during my breaks. While serving in Armenia, I vacationed in England, the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania. My flight home, after service, took me to Greece, England, and Iceland. That’s a lot of travel in a short two year period. I used part of my Peace Corps travel allowance to book a room at the Blue Lagoon Silica Hotel. It was worth every penny. A month later, I was on a flight to Ethiopia.

Only nine months in Ethiopia, before the worldwide Peace Corps evacuation

Although my stay in Ethiopia was cut short, due to COVID, I was able to squeeze in one amazing trip to Zanzibar. While serving in Kenya, back in the mid 1980s, a school break trip to Lamu was always a must. Once there I would dream of taking a dhow, along the Indian Ocean, from Lamu to Stone Town. I’d been wanting to visit Zanzibar for years. It did not disappoint. Being there, back in the Indian Ocean, made me feel the same as I did on the beaches in Malindi and Lamu.

The Road to Zanzibar

Stone Town was simply wonderful. I picked up a taxi at the airport and was given tons of good tips, by my driver. My hotel, The DoubleTree by Hilton Zanzibar, was the perfect spot. It’s tucked away, one street over from the beach, a short walk from the Freddie Mercury museum. I could enjoy the beach, get a drink and snack, at one of the beachfront hotels, then spend a quiet night back at my hotel.

No sitting allowed, but the beach never closed for surfing

After the evacuation, last March, I headed to Hawaii to self quarantine. A Peace Corps Kenya friend has a condo in Honolulu. Having a friend with Public Health experience (and a Honolulu address), for my quarantine, was most helpful. All the quarantine recommendations were followed and Honolulu was under a Stay at Home Order. By late June, I was set to head to Jamaica, as a Peace Corps Response volunteer, in October. So, I made my way back to the mainland,.

Safe in Sitka?

With the position in Jamaica postpone until March/ May 2021, I regrouped, in Utah, while staying with an old friend from Detroit. Then, as luck would have it, a fellow evacuated Peace Corps volunteer, from my Ethiopia cohort, told me about being offered a position with Americorps Alaska. I quickly emailed the volunteer coordinator and submitted an application. Now, I spend my time volunteering at the District Homeschool Office, in Sitka.

Wheels Up?

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for all the years I was able to travel. I’m also thankful that (at sixty four years of age), I’ve been able to find safe living locations, in terms of COVID. Currently, the numbers in Alaska are beginning to increase. For now, I’m going to take it one day at a time. But, like all good Returned Peace Corps volunteers, I’ve got my Go Bag packed. —GGT

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