Mark called just after 11:00 tonight, and asked us to call him back at Bill's apartment. We had trouble getting through and had a very bad connection. Mark said he had to try about 10 times to place his call to us.
Mark didn't get to go to the Buffalo Festival. Instead, he went back to the village for his (host family) sister's wedding. The sister decided to get married at this time to coincide with an important festival, and marriage at this time will also mean good fortune for the couple. The gift Mark bought her -- besides a modest gift of money -- is a set of mugs from the Women's Development Center. As one of her brothers, he was the fourth person to present her with a gift, wash their feet, and take a drink of the water used for washing. He said he thought most people only faked taking the drink (especially the later ones). He says he will write and try to describe all the rituals of the wedding.
Mark is very excited about the plans for New Year's. Many of the PCVs are meeting in Pokhara, which is a beautiful area in the hills. His friend Bill has helped raise money to build a school in Janakpur, and with some of the funds he is taking some students from the school on a field trip there for New Year's. There will be dancing by the students and fireworks. The program director will be hosting a party for the PCVs over the holidays as well.
Plans are already being made for travel during the summer. Mark is hoping to get to the beach in Thailand. Mark's friend from Penn State (a former roommate) is definitely going to visit in April. Other PCVs have friends planning to visit also.
Mark is sick again, with (amebic?) dysentery. He just got medicine for it today, and he insisted it isn't serious and he will be ok. He asked about the weather here, and says people are wearing sweaters and scarves there -- the temperature is about 70. Mark does get under his sleeping bag when he goes to bed and is no longer using the fan at night.
Mark begin receiving mail that had him puzzled -- from people he couldn't place and from people thanking him for protecting our country. We put his name in "Postmark York," which is a listing in the York Sunday News of local residents who are currently stationed overseas. Although he was identified as being a PCV, all of the others on the list were in the military; hence the confusion among some of those who wrote him letters. Nevertheless, he was very happy to receive the mail and was especially happy with a large pack of mail from the 5th grade students at St. Joseph's school. He described many of the letters, drawings and puzzles they had sent him.
He got a package recently; from it, he gave out Snickers at the wedding and Famous Amos cookies to his friends at dinner. He also received lollipops, which he is taking along as Christmas gifts when he travels over the holidays. He got 3 copies of Scientific American at once, but still has not received his Games Magazine.
He has not been writing email lately, but continues to receive and read it.
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