The trouble with working on a fixed term contract is that there comes a time when you have to move on. My five-year contract in Senegal was extended to a sixth year, and then to a seventh, but seven is the maximum allowed and I am already several months into my seventh year, so when a suitable post was advertised in Panama (the same job that I do here but covering our Latin America region) I really had little choice but to apply.
I was successful, and within the next couple of months (I don't yet have a transfer date), I will be leaving my beloved West Africa.
Of course my new region will be full of delights. New landscapes, new birds, new cultures, new music... Many things that I should be so excited about. & I guess that, in time, I will be excited about them. But now all I can think about is how much I will miss Africa. How much I love Africa. How challenging and frustrating it can be, and how long it took me to find my place here but how happy I am now that I have found it.
Don't post comments about any of the delights of my new region or of the advantages of living in Panama, because I know all that, and at the moment it makes no difference. That isn't to say you should be sad for me... I am busy trying to see the last few corners of this region that remain unexplored (the Benin voodoo festival, and next month the Bissau carnival), to make the most of the little time that remains and to celebrate and be thankful for the wonderful years I have spent here. I have been very lucky to have the opportunity to explore a region of the world that so few people know.