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Dear Meredyth,

On September 11th I turned 25 years old. One quarter of a century. The big mid-twenties era. If you add the numbers together it makes 7. This seems like it should be a big deal birthday, right? I am still not sure, it felt a bit anti-climactic. I did not wake up feeling any different, only a bit confused that I am still waking up under a bug net to the sounds of chickens screaming in the yard. 

Well my dear, wonderful friends threw me a surprise birthday party! It wasn’t easy either, all of them live between 4-5 hours away from my area so it was a really big effort for them to be there. The other hard part was getting me out of my village. I had just returned from two day meeting in Gaborone with Ministry of Education officials, if that sounds like a blast let me assure you, it sucked. So when Becky tried to lure me out of my village that Saturday I was really not into it. It wasn’t until she promised to pay for my travel and that we would climb a favorite hill of mine in Lobatse that I begrudgingly agreed to come out. The hill in Lobatse was a great place to just chill the afternoon away. We sat watching clouds and their shadows on the ground slowly roll across the town, appreciating that we get to be here in Africa just doing this.

The plan was to go to our friend Yami’s for dinner, she lives very close to Lobatse so we were walking up to her gate in no time. When I walked in the door all I saw was a blur of people jumping and one big “SUPRISE!!” I threw my hands up, my bags went flying, I couldn’t believe what was happening! My friends. Alex, Caitlin, Supriya, Rachel, Danielle, Nate, Liles and Jvani, all adorned in party hats were hugging me and congratulating themselves on a perfect surprise. 

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I wish we had more pictures of the party, it was a night of bacchanalia, dancing, really good food, and these wonderful frozen packages of peach margaritas & frozen daiquiris (thank you Yami’s mom, these genius packages were shipped from America and “Alcohol is in it!!”) But we were too busy dancing, eating, drinking and being merry to take more pictures. 

I thought all I wanted on my birthday was to sit on my front stoop silently watching the stars, drinking hot chocolate, and just thinking. Well i did get to that the next night but on this special night I got to appreciate that I have really amazing friends here, I live in a really beautiful place, and celebrating my birthday with them was exactly what I wanted.   

So my birthday resolutions for the year of 25/2nd year of Peace Corps service!

1. Run the half marathon in Shakawe at the end of March

2. Keep doing my job, keep doing it better.

3. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. (And find a way to pay for it.)

I think those three things are big accomplishments for a year of one’s life. I’m pumped.

All the love in the world,

Julia

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