Life as an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer)- the first six months May-November 2012

Six months ago on 13 May 2012 I left my Peace Corps organization /site of two years and began the re-entry journey back to the USA. 

The journey began with an exit stamp in my passport—I was leaving Ukraine and my Peace Corps passport would expire!

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My exit visa stamp…..

On to London to visit family and a dear friend

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LONDON,MAY 2012-  ready for the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee.  AND what is London without a little “high tea”- scones, clotted cream and blueberry preserves

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Fun with my grand nephews and niece who live in London; my nephew tried to explain cricket to me as I watched him play

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Sloane Square shops decked out for the Chelsea Flower Show.  My niece Leslie and I had a ball looking at the floral displays!

The soldier was red roses, white roses, long ti leaves, green moss… stunning!

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My niece and grand nephew met my dear friend Alexandra Eversole, a high school classmate who lived in London ever since HS graduation. 

She taught young children my grandnephew’s age and had a lifelong love of teaching children and history.

Alexandra lost her battle with ovarian cancer a few months after our visit.  I treasure her memory- we were friends for over 50 years. 


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On to Edinburgh, Scotland by train!  Left:  Fields of rape, Right: Pub in Edinburgh

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My wonderful friends Judith and Derek on the Royal Yacht Britannia, now in Edinburgh and open for tours.

And after three days in Scotland… 25 MAY 2012……

a quick flight across the English Channel to Antwerp, Belgium to visit more friends and my Belgian Family.

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Danielle (photo on left) and I were tennis partners; the photo on the right is the pond at the park near my old house in Brasschaat, Belgium; CLM in front of Klaverheide 24, where I lived 1990-1994.

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The Antwerp Train Station (one of the top 10 in the world) and the Antwerp City Hall

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CLM with the required Antwerp Beer, De Konnick; The sign at Mama’s Garden, the hangout for my children when we lived in Brasschaat.

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My friends and neighbors, Denise and Marianne:  CLM telling Peace Corps stories about life in Ukraine.

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Parc du Mik , near Brasschaat- another favorite spot when I lived in Brasschaat.  CLM and Denise (My Belgian family)

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On to Brugge, Belgium

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Michelangelo Pieta in one of the churches in Brugge; the Pieta in the center portion of the altarpiece.

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My travel pal, Amy, and I munching the required Belgian Frites.  

THEN 29 MAY on to…….

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Colembert, France to visit a few of my French cousins at their home, Chateau de Colembert.

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My cousins were re-introducing Amy and I to really wonderful, excellent French Wine! 

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My cousins have worked very very hard to restore and maintain the Chateau, which has been in the family for over 300 years.  They are doing GREAT work.

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A little lunch—shrimp beginner and a small medallion of veal for main course.  Delicious!

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A quick tour of the French coastline, north of Boulogne – plus a few mussels and collecting beach glass

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The organ in the cathedral in St. Omer; a cow gargoyle!!!, ceramic salt and pepper cellars and a ceramic creamer in the museum at St. Omer

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Lunch and dinner with more of my French Family.  GREAT FUN and I am blessed with such a great French Family!


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Farewell Toast to Amy (champagne of course) and welcome to Jinx and Cheekie, 2nd group of travel pals!

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Place de Hotel de Ville (with TV screens for the French Open) and Place Des Vosges, and the fountain outside the Pompidou museum

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4 JUNE 2012:  On to the French countryside to visit more of my French family- photo 1, a sculpture in a garden, photo 2 fun house with lovely roses

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On to Giverny, the home of a Claude Monet.  The Gardens are glorious, the peonies were still in bloom.  Magnificient.

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My wonderful cousins, Isabelle and Arnaud and their home, about 30 minutes from Giverny, 90 minutes from Paris

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The Golf Club club house near Arnaud and Isabelle’s home!  Nice.  The golf course is lovely, too!

THEN on to Rouen and famous cathedrals. 

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The first is St. Ouen “Church” and is famous for music.  We had an impromtu organ concert.  Fabulous.

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The timbered houses in Rouen. 

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The Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Rouen and the famous doors, painted by Claude Monet. The interior and the stone stairwell to the library in the church.

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The exterior

AND if two cathedrals in Rouen are not enough…ON TO CHARTRES

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The famous windows in Chartres have all been restored and cleaned.

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And then, 5 JUNE 2012 -----On to southern Burgundy to visit another friend from High School.

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Caroline and Helena and Helena’s home, “Les Marroniers”

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The view from the Pool and the view from the front Living room.  Wonderful, relaxing location!

But we can’t relax too long….  6 JUNE 2012 ……..on to more family in CLUNY, (also in Burgundy)

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My cousin Guy, an Architect who lives in Cluny, gave us an inside walking tour of the Abbaye de Cluny,

the center of a major monastic movement in the Middle Ages.

Its church was the largest Christian building in the world until St. Peter's Basilica was rebuilt in Rome in the 16th century.

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Cousin Guy and his wife, Marie Madeleine have restored a very old, very historic home and garden in Cluny.

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Countryside in and around Beaune, France.

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L to R: Beaune products, the Hospice de Beaune, and an example of “gooseneck” faucets (in the kitchen at the Hospice)

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Top four photos:  Chateaux de Vaux Le Vicomte, the silver wine cooler,

the copper in the kitchen and a planter!

10 JUNE 2012- Good bye Paris, Good Bye Europe

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L to R: Family in Pacific Grove California, welcome home hors d’oeuvres

JUNE and JULY 2012


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The LONG OVERDUE HAIR CUT.  15 inches donated to Locks of Love!


And another family party…. preparing for the Land of Aloha!

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My Hawaiian Driver’s License and my HI license plate

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HOME in Hawaii  and my job while in Hawaii---- HOME PROJECTS and SWEAT EQUITY!!!

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The American Dream of Home Ownership and maintenance!!!

Tenting--- no more nasty bugs, pruning and yard work… it’s a jungle over here!!!  staining the driveway and garage floor

Kitchen counter _view to living room    master bathrrom view toward shower   middle bedroom looking to dining area

Clean and reseal all the tile floors and counters, repair the master bath shower and seal all the tiles,

repaint the entire interior, and replace worn moldy carpets with hardwood flooring

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Clean, repair and paint all the rain gutters, restain and repair the hammock and see if it still works.

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Pool deck staining and a quick break for a birthday party for my son.  (check out the Ukrainian candle!)

BUT … life in the land of Aloha is not all sweat equity… there is time to see the beauty of Hawaii

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The famous north shore of Oahu… L to R:  Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach with NO WAVES AT ALL in September

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And SUNSET BEACH with 18 ft. waves in NOVEMBER!!!

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View of Honolulu from the top of Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor Memorial to USS Arizona

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Plumeria (the lei flower)  and a Hawaiian cardinal

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My time in Hawaii will come to a close (For now at least) on Dec. 15, 2012. 

My Hawaii house is rented for one more long term tenant. 

I return to California to move back to my California house.

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309 Trailview Road, Encinitas CA 92024

After 6 months on the road, it is now time to return to a full time job (still looking), sign up for Medicare (done and yes I am old enough), understand our health care system (is that possible) and get all my “things” out of storage and USE them.   The journey that started three years ago in January 2010 -- moving out of my California house and preparing for 27 months in the Peace Corps --- has now ended.  What a journey!

Thank you all for sharing the journey with me.  

Come visit!

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous photos, Caroline. What a journey (geographically and emotionally)! Wicked glad I met you and hope to see you in the future.