An Ode to 775 Days

How is it that the clock ticks away just the same while the time never seems constant, never passes at a steady pace? At times, the days seemed to drag on forever. There were the scorching hot afternoons spent napping under a mango tree and the dozens of hours spent lost in a new language. But then suddenly, months had passed and students were reading in the new library, the garden was blossoming and the neighborhood kids finally stopped shouting “toubab.”

I spent 775 days in Peace Corps The Gambia.
But how do you truly measure that time when so many of the experiences can’t be explained?
How do you count the moments of love, the lessons in resilience?

070616_Sibanor to Kaimoh_Run (44)

775 days.

It’s time for strangers to turn into family
and for acquaintances to become best friends.

It’s cataloguing over 1,500 books,
painting 11 murals,
and raising 5 colonies of bees.

It’s 7 fevers over 100,
3 bouts of Giardia,
and 1 case of intestinal worms.

It’s taking 5,398 pictures
and receiving 57 letters from home.

It’s time to learn how to defeather a chicken,
eat mangos in 6 different ways,
and stop counting the bowls of rice.

It’s time for a toddler to finally pronounce your name,
a little girl to say her first English words,
and a deaf boy to communicate in sign language with new deaf friends.

It’s 3 rainy seasons and Ramadans
and 2 school years.

It’s time for your hair to grow back past your shoulders after shaving your head,
for a romance to begin and end,
and for a puppy to become a full-size dog.

It’s time to laugh and to cry,
to love and to learn.
It’s time to grow.
It’s time to change.

–JDF