Paris – the fashion capital, the city of light. It’s spectacular. Glamorous yet historical, playful yet sophisticated, modernity intertwined with timeless elegance. As I returned to Cape Verde feeling refreshed and renewed – both mentally and physically, I reflected on my week of relaxation — listening to insightful, enthusiastic guides leading us through the d’Orsay, the Louvre and Notre Dame; the detailed architecture that mesmerizes you for hours; shopping for fresh cheese, fruits and vegetables in the market; seeing the reflection of the sparkling Eiffel Tower on the water while feeling the cool breeze on your face; waking up to fresh croissants and coffee every morning. It was glorious.
However, when other Peace Corps Volunteers ask me what I loved most about my vacation, I surprise myself. I instinctively respond with something about hot showers, sleeping under a freshly washed duvet cover, and catching up with family. I longingly anticipated and cherished every second of my hot shower. When we sat around the table for breakfast or found ourselves in the living room for a few minutes of relaxation, I would mentally photograph the moment, surrounded by family, discussing everything from Justin Bieber to Venus de Milo. I adored observing the “kids” that have now grown into teenagers with their strong ideas, curious questions, and astounding goals (I met the Ende family when I was ten years old and the rest is history — from pacifiers and blankets to iPods and chapter books).
Yes, the guided tours were spectacular, yes the croissants melt in your mouth, yes the Eiffel Tower dancing on the water is unforgettable, but that’s all icing on the cake, as some like to say. The real goodness, the feelings and moments that keep me going, the substance that holds those bad days together are tied up in the day to day — in people, in simplicity. I rely on moments and memories like these to hold back those tears on the days when nothing goes right and everything seems unfamiliar. It’s about happiness that comes from appreciation rather than desire.
I am forever grateful to the Ende gang for inspiration, love, education and most importantly, becoming family.