Enclosed is a cassette recording of a typical Wendy day. It's kina (OK really) boring. So listen to it while cleaning or driving. Take it to Grandma's, give it to Robb, let him take it to Dad.
I still have to fill up the other side. (I guess I could leave it blank). I'm thinking of recording while traveling Down Country. It's always eventful and it's when I most often think of family.
I got your card yesterday (Greeting from Chardon)
Am I happy? Thatís a tricky question. Not really happy but there is nothing in this world I would rather do for a job. I might not be thrilled to be here but I would not be thrilled to be at any job. I think we're just beginning to see the depths of my laziness & my total repulsion at working.
So basically, I have no idea what I want to do when I get out of here. Nursing? I am considering also a Masters / PhD program in Psychology at the U of Hawaii. They have Peace Corps Scholarships. I bet I'd have lot's of visitors there!
But I'd end up graduating at 30! God, I'm getting old. Can you imagine your daughter at 30 years old!? I was hoping to be married with children and a house by then! I'll have to think about it.
Safe? Yes, I'm very safe. I'm in the middle of nowhere, if violence broke out, it would be miles from here. Safety is not a big issue.
The Gambians are all right, but I'm hoping to travel when my 2 years are up. I'm looking at Casablanca & Egypt. I hope I can save the money.
Yes, I have a boyfriend. Still is Abhijit. We are making slow progress. I doubt it's forever, but it is nice for now.
My job? Well. Let's see. I have labeled all the fiction bindings and they are in alphabetical order on the shelf. I must now label the non-fiction with the Dewey Decimal system and begin a card catalog. Over Thanksgiving I dittoed 500 cards. Now I must fill them out. I've done 2.
I also made dittos of a practice test for my grade 6. Tomorrow I will get on my bike and deliver them. About 30 miles total riding to 2 schools.
I collect papers to ditto once a month and spend a full day Down Country making stencils and copies.
I am also organizing 1 teacher seminar a month. I have to get the funding, speakers, and get the teachers to come.
Also, I'm trying to organize a girls' class once a week. It would be health or environmental ed, or... that project is moving slowest. I need someone to help me, because they don't understand my English.
Then I have a little little project like a battery drive & getting the alphabet & number line painted on every classroom wall.
That should keep me busy until the end of the school year.
And Christmas plans? Well, I'll be calling you the day before Christmas, which means you will already have talked to me when you get this but...
I plan on going Down Country the 22nd of Dec. and supposedly the American Community will be adopting Peace Corps Volunteers. 3 volunteers per house. SO, I'll be at some strangers house eating good food (i hope).
Could you send me a pair of size 10 jean shorts please. Whatever, no rush. I wear 12 now, but I want to use 10's as a measuring guide. I figure if you mail them in January, they'd get here by my birthday. But wait! You probably can't find jean shorts in Jan! OK. Wait until spring. No rush!
So, I'm ending it here!
I love you!
Hi Mr. Brown (& Mike?)
P.S. The glass enclosed (if it is broken) is just the bulb to my flashlight. Please mail me 2 of this size.
Dec 2, 1994
Hi, I'm back at site now & kinda grumpy. We are not supposed to write home on a bad day because by the time you get this letter it will be one month later. I'll be happy & have forgotten all about my bad day and you'll just be starting to worry about it! So, if this letter sounds a little negative, don't worry about it. By the time you get it, it will already be New Year.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
It was nice talking to you on the phone *twice). Glad to hear you're still happy with Mr. Brown. And Robb's happy. I ended up staying away from site 10 days! I got in late today. Well actually about 6pm. But that is very late when you only have sunlight & it's sinking fast. That's pretty much shy I'm bumming. I can't unpack or clean. My house needs airing out but I can't function with 4 candles!
I ate so much down country! I just ate & ate! I even had 1 box of cocoa Krispies & 1 box of Honey Smacks (talk about roughing it!) only last nite jean & I got pizzas at this restaurant with a TV and VCR. We watched Nightmare on Elm street 3 while eating pizza and drinking Diet Coke! I gained 10lbs!
But it's no big deal! Like I told you I had lost 40 and now I'm back at site. Already my up-country metabolism is kickin in. One meal a day. I stayed in Farafini last night (I stop there on Down Country and Up Country trips) and at noon I made omelets & potatoes (Farafini is more advanced than Illiasa but less then Down Country.) And tonight I couldn't eat dinner because I had eaten once!
So my body's already adjusted.
My kittens ... another reason I'm bumming. They are so dirty & flea ridden, they've lost most their fur! Poopsy is good! But the other 2! Man! They look like... garbage dump rats! BUT they've gotten bigger. So that's good. I freaked when I saw Poopsy. 10 days go buy and she got huge!
My other bummin things. There's goat poop all over my back yard. I hate those goats. They destroy my interior fence. My fence is ready, a local man made it, now I have to wait for Bill to come and put it up. He's not back yet. He went to Jason's to visit & help in the garden. Jasonís in charge of the garden they use in training. So he rides to Tendaba once a week to work on it.
I got my mountain bike, helmet, tool kit, & pump. So now I can start riding. Visiting all my schools, see Bill's projects & visit Abhijit. The exercise will be great!
Hey! I went and picked up your package yesterday before I traveled. It was a lifesaver. I read the entire Star, cover to cover while waiting for my bus. (noon-3pm). Then read the paper on the bus (3-8:30pm). Travel days are so fun! I gave Poopsy the cat toy. She's insure rite now, I have to give it a few days. But I plan on wearing the jewelry to Christmas. PLUS Bill is talking about putting up a tree in his house so the ornaments will be great! Thanks!
I was VERY excited to get my soap opera update in the paper. And I would love to get more! If you can't afford to sent the entire Sunday paper (which was great!) try and clip the Days of Our Lives update from the Soap Sections! Thanks!
I may be sending you a Post Card from Dakar, Senegal. Besides my worms, I have another skin thing. It's nothing to worry about but it may needs to be looked at by a lab. The closest lab is in Dakar. But no biggie! It will be nice to fly their free!
Speaking of doctors, Linda, our oldest volunteer (45) was sent to Washington DC today. they found a lump in her breast & she needs a mammogram (closest mammogram.... USA) But I'm sure she'll be back. (She's probably in the air as I write this)>
Man! I can hear the goats in my backyard! Probably eating my cats rice! You should have seen the kittens. they were SO happy to see me. I wish they could all sleep with me & cuddle but I've gotten too many nasties from them! Maybe when I get flea collars it will be better.
So, I'm ending here. Tell everyone hello. Tell grandma and pa I love them. Tell Robb to write! I don't have his NEW school address so... I'm not writing there. I'm calling around X-mas so I'll probably talk to you before you get this!
Dec 2, 1994
It's me again. Gosh you letters just get cuter and cuter! :)
So what's up with me? Well, besides ringworm and hookworm I have something new. Probably from Sean K before I came here. (I slept with him one month before I left) So I probably will be going to Dakar, Senegal this week. I'm not sure if hey will treat it but we have to determine contagion. Try not to tell Barry, would ya? I know you tell him everything.
I spent 10 days Down Country. I just got home yesterday. I was expecting my friend Scott from BRAKAMA (check you map :) IF I'm not in Dakar.
I've been cleaning all day getting ready for Scott. This is as good as it's ever gonna get. I hope he shows. But, I doubt it now. I'm just a little lonely because Bill's not here yet. He went to spend some time with Jason working on the Tendaba Garden (Nakko). He should get in today. No travel can be done between noon and 4pm. Since it's 1pm now, I don't expect him to start traveling until 4. He should get home around 7. Then, tomorrow we go back to Farafini for the Sunday lumo (market). Maybe Bill will just stay there tonite with Abhijit. I wish he was here because the DAMN goats are fucking up my backyard. They ruin my interior fence and crap everywhere. I had a fence made. I just have to wait for Bill to put it up! Tomorrow I'll get a bag of cement and the mason will wall my front porch. I HATE goats. Good for nothing unless you eat them! (Goat is pretty damn good that way :) Oh! Guess what. My father has volunteered to buy me a ticket to Egypt. the pyramids will be kickass!
Dec 3, 1994
Got the Crystal Lite. Thanks! Excellent! Great! That's a lot :) Anyways It came just a couple days after talking to you. I'd normally get it around the 14th (Mail run) but I was already Down Country so I got it myself! The pictures were great too!
I was very excited that your interested in helping me get to Egypt. It shouldn't cost TOO much. Peace Corps gives me airfare to get home. It is a nice ticket that can be traded down to a poorer airline/class. I can use the money I save But it's still a long way off. Let's make sure Iím here that long. (The political situation is as unstable as ever). It's kinda weird. We are not in any danger but we are supposed to have a list for emergency packing. In case we leave in a hurry I need to know NOW what I will take.
But don't worry. No danger and evacuating to another country would be exciting! Bill and Abhijit are both sick. No fun for me! But I got my bike. Now I can travel more. PLUS I got my fence up in my backyard. PRIVACY! Yes! If you are wondering what to send ... I'd love a box of QTIP BRAND Qtips. The solid white kind, not the cheap plastic. My ears are NASTY! Well, there is no rain from Mid Oct to early July. The dust is amazing. And wind! All my skin is chapped and I'm caked with dirt everyday! Ah well, no problem. But I need to keep my ears clean!
Well, gotta go, Dinners here. Benechin (Rice cooked in Palm oil)... At least I'll be able to wash it down with Crystal Lite :)
Dec 3, 1994
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year. I'm mailing this to Mom because I'm not sure what address you're at. besides you'll probably be at Myrtle Beach anyway!
So, what's new? Well, we had a meeting at the Ambassador's who seemed pretty depressed. he seems to think we will be evacuated in the next 2 years. But, now, I doubt it. I believed him at first but, Peace Corps doesn't plan on leaving any time soon. So the civilians may leave, but I think we will stay.
I'm sitting in my beautiful house writing you. I don't know if I mentioned it but I got the cement finished, got shelves, curtains & laundry basket. My new projects are getting my gas tank here, fencing my backyard & putting a wall on my front porch. I think this will be finished by Wed, evening (Today is Sat)
Let me just tell ya Iím sick of those goats hoppin on my cement & breaking my stuff. The only good goat is served over rice in a peanut sauce! (You are laughing aren't you? Well, I'm serious! Goat is my favorite meal!)
The cats, well, I feel bad but I don't let them in the house & don't touch them anymore. I have gotten too many diseases from them. they are now Compound Cats. Which means they live in the entire compound, not just my house.
It's Dec 3, Noon:30 and about 90 degrees. The sun is a killer. Wonder if you have snow yet? I went to the bathroom and almost got sunburn on my butt!
My friend Scott was supposed to visit, but he didn't. Bummer. At least tomorrow is Lumo Day! I will see Abhijit and anyone else who goes. (Sunday in Lumo Day or Market Day). I need 4 more meters of cloth & all my drapes will be done! God I wish you were here!
Don't tell anyone, not even Dad, but Dad said he would fly me to Egypt after my 2 years here. That would be kick ass! I am already saving my money to spend! I had been thinking of a cheaper trip to Casablanca. If Dad does come over with the money I may be able to do both. Because Peace Corps gives me a good ticket home from The Gambia which I can cash in for a crappy ticket home from Egypt. Use the money I saved to fly from Gambia to Casablanca & Dad's money for one way Casablanca to Egypt. Probably cost $400! Wow! Exciting!
PLUS I am probably flying to Dakar this week on a medical. (More skin stuff). No big deal but I get to go to Senegal! Maybe. I'll write you and let you now.
My walls are dull. Bill wants me to paint, but I don't want to spend money. So I sit and look at mud instead. Actually I tape up all the greeting cards and postcards I get. So far 15 & 4. Not bad. Plus I bought a poster & I put up all the pages from my Madonna calendar.
LATER THAT EVENING...
So Scott showed up. We're in bed rite now (heh heh) Actually, the bed is like my only furniture so, he has to sleep in here with me (I say "in" because we're surrounded by net) he's listening to his walkman & I'm sweating! We walked 1 1/2 hours to buy some fish & crab & shrimp. About 1 pound of fish, 2 crab, & 8 large shrimp for 50 cents. (American Money. 5 Dalasi). Not a bad deal huh! We caught a ride back. But we hardly ate. Actually I used Mom's primavera sauce she sent w/pasta and shrimp for lunch. That was great! But dinner... wasn't so hungry.
I'm kinda tired but I know I'll add more to this letter before it gets mailed. I wanna tell you the top 10 Good Things About Ted Kennedy! So talk to ya soon!
Dec 4, 1994 (Sunday)
OK Top 10 Good Things about Ted Kennedy
(Dave's list in my order) (Actually I only care about #1)!
10. Every time he gets away with something it drives Nixon nuts
9. Does a great job as the San Diego Chicken
8. Cried when Gary character on "30-something" died
7. Does hilarious imitation of that Pepperidge Farm guy
6. Not the kind of person who snobbishly insists on wearing pants
5. Holds high score on Pac-Man machine at AuBar
4. Ate his own weight in McRibs before limited time offer expired
3. Will never become an embarrassing U.S. President
2. Proof that you CAN become a U.S. Senator even though your family has hundreds of millions of dollars.
1. he doesn't hog the Nordic Track
God I love that! He doesn't hog the Nordic Track! Ahh ha ha ha ha!!!
I got it from this book I hope you haven't read because I want to send you my favorites. Stay tuned for: Top 10 Secret projects at "Birdseye Corporation" and "Abraham Nicknames".
So now I gotta fill this side. I HATE when I get a letter not filled to the last line. An empty page in not a happy page.
Good news, most of my fence is up! Almost total privacy! Wow! And I think my gas is coming this week. Abhijit & Bill are both sick. (So was Scott, he SIS show up) So I guess I'm next. The dust and dryness multiplies every day. Summer (mid or late) is definitely the best season to visit. I hope to political situation clears up so Mom can visit my last summer. Things SEEM to have calmed down but we must wait 6 months & see.
Man, it's hard adjusting to the food all over again. I can't believe I gained 10 lbs! But I've probably dropped 4 already being back here. I've done a lot of walking but not lots of eating!
Gotta Go! Talk to ya Christmas or So..
(Before you get this actually)
Dec 7, 1994
It's me! Munne be Kerring? (What is happening?) Nte? Hanefing (Me? Nothing) OK, well maybe that's not exactly true. I'm actually having some revelations about myself. like... I'm never gonna be happy. I mean I wanna come home, however I can't think of one thing I would rather be doing. I have the best site, easiest job, minimal supervision, freedom to do what I want and go where I want. My own place, a boyfriend nearby. Why am I bummin? I think I suffer some chemical depression. I want to do nothing (which I practically do now). I honestly want to veg 24 hours a day in America in front of a TV! I have NO IDEA what I will do when I get home. Teaching? Nursing? Psychology? All are possibilities and none excite me. There must be a pill I can take to cure this.
I hope I'm not bummin you out. But you've written your share of downers so, it's my turn!
There's a program for the Peace Corps scholarship for Masterís and PhD in psychology at U of Hawaii! Sounds great. But I'd be 30 when I graduate! I should have 3 kids and a house by then, not looking for my 1st job! I think I'd like to find an old fashioned, boring, textbook only school in America and teach. I don't want the pressure of being surrounded by bright, energetic, happy teachers dedicating their life blood to the profession! And I am out of money. Iíve spent my months allowance already and it's the 7th. I'm doomed. The good note however is I have to pay the school 200D a month. Each month 2 teachers get the money. My month is February. So at the end of February I will get 1000D. So it's like a savings plan without the interest. But it's good for me. I'd spend it otherwise. I will save it for Egypt. I am hoping to see Casablanca and Egypt before I return home.
P.S. I had to put my kitty Fatou out of her misery yesterday. That could also explain my grumpy mood. My poor baby.
Actually I'm feeling a little better rite now. I ran home to the bathroom. Now I feel... well, less stressed. (Believe me I RAN to the bathroom)
I am sending home a cassette I've recorded of a regular day for me. It's incredibly boring but you can ask my brother /mom/ whoever to listen to it. Don't listen at nite, you'll fall asleep. Listen during a car ride or some other boring event. Then it won't seem quite so dull. You can play a game of listening to all the times I'm about to swear, then I have to stop & rethink a better word!
Um... big change in my daily routine. I now get lunch from my family instead of dinner. I wonder if the food content will change? I'll keep you informed!
My boss came by yesterday for about 4 minutes, She didn't look at anything. But I guess she was impressed enough. She brought my gas so now I can cook! Tomorrow I will ride my bike to NoKunda. One of my schools. I made dittos for them. I was hoping to ride to Abhijitís also but I think it must wait until Friday. I want him to come visit me here. I saw him Sunday and he was sick. I'm not sure about our relationship. I'm always on pins and needles that he'll dump me.
Anyways, I would babble more but I wanna stick this page in the aerogram. 2 pages won't fit.
So hope to hear from you soon. And if you got any happy pills send um my way :)
Talk to you soon
Dec 11, Sunday, 1994
Mynne be kerring? Nte? Hanefang. I'm in the mood to chat so bad! I was gonna call you from Gamtell today (no, not collect!) But I have no money. I was worried if I called I wouldn't have taxi money to get back to Illiasa. I just wanna talk, ya know?
I will get money the beginning of January, So I'll call probably that first week. (You will probably get this after we chat).
So, I spent the weekend with Abhijit (finally I can spell it!). He was horribly sick, fever of 104 and the shivers so bad he was shaking in bed. Bill and Sarah think it's malaria. He'll be flown to Dakar, Senegal I guess. I hope he's not medivaced to the states. This is kinda scary. I will call him tomorrow morning. I thought he's be back at site by Thursday but Bill and Sarah say he'll stay until Christmas and then just stay down country until January 1 like we all do.
Poor Abhijit. He was so scared. (He's had malaria before. Once you get it you've got it forever. It can kick in any time.) But maybe it's nothing. We are on malaria medication.
So, what else? My father killed a cow today. I'm hoping some meat shows up in my food bowl but they are acting weird about it. So, we'll see.
I asked my mothers to braid my hair tomorrow, can't wait :) (I'm gonna look like a dork!)
I'm freezing. It gets down to 50-60 degrees at nite (I know your laughing, it is zero degrees there, right?) But I only have T-shirts. No sweatshirt or blankets. Remember how chilly it got sleeping in the shed sometimes! So I took one of Abhijit's long sleeve, button up, school shirts. (Of courser it doesn't fit, but keeps me a little warmer.) I think moms sending me a sweatshirt.
Oh, I really like this Hawaiian Punch you've been sending. Thanks!
Hey, It's Monday! I called the clinic in Sarakunda this morning. Abhijit is much better. He's only got sinusitis. He is being observed for 24 hours and then he will come home! He wasnít even in when I called him, he was at the bank. I talked to Barbara, the nurse.
Make sure you get from my family an audio cassette and pictures I am mailing at Christmas. I have pictures I am mailing at Christmas. I have pictures of my Dad slaughtering a cow in my compound, my kitten Lamin eating raw entrails, and various other fun shots. (A picture of the Bush Taxi I traveled in). Plus photo's of me and my house. Now finished except for furniture. (I think I'll take pictures of Abhijit's for contrast.) He has electricity, a fan! Lights! Furniture! (Plus he's a babe:)
So last nite I had cow liver (yuck( with an excellent oil sauce over rice with a piece of pumpkin. They make all my sauces real salty! Yumm!
Schools out in 10 min. Thank God. Or... am I wrong! The bell just rang. Done! Until 4 when I tutor!
Hey Peg! only 93 weeks until I'm home! Only 28 until summer break!
Wed morning: Dec 14
I'm gonna put this letter in the envelop now! Mail run comes though Friday. I've made you a tape. I will probably mail it a t Christmas. It basically says everything this letter says but I felt like talking.
Little blurb for the day - I opened mu my closet in my resource center and found a mouse, happily munching on a book. We didn't catch him so... he'll be feasting again tonight!
Talk to you soon,
P.s. Sorry, no tape
Dec 13, 1994 Tuesday
Gosh, why do I only write you when I want something? OK, I promise I'll ask dad for the other stuff I want. But from you I beg you to keep an eye out for a 34 DD bra. (only 2 D's!) (34/36) And I asked you for a size 10 jean shorts. I think I would rather have a size 12. I'll request a size 10 next Sept or so.
Thanks! (Oh and any cotton underwear size 8?) I need them a little small because they get stretched out. The elasticity from the washing. So maybe a size 7.
But I'll ask you all this at X-mass. About 2 weeks before you get this.
So did you travel? You and Mr. Brown go anywhere?
By the way, Abhijit is OK. He had sinusitis (infected sinuses). he should be back at site this evening. I THINK I'm about to get my hair braided. The language barrier... But I think they've sent for a girl to do it.
Sorry about this handwriting. I looked back at this letter and it's pretty bad.
I took more photos today. Of my front room, kitchen, bedroom, back & front yard.
Dec 14, Wed
I didn't get my hair braided. I'm putting this letter in an envelop now, mail run comes through on Friday. I'll send the roll of film at Christmas. So, until we next speak.
Special Page for Robb
Top 10 nicknames for Abraham Lincoln:
9. Vanilla Abe
8. Town car (Get it! Lincoln... never mind!)
7. Old five dollar bill boy
6. Grand Champion, 4 years running, White House Slam Dunk Contest
5. Mr. Television, if it had been invented
4. Mary Todd's old man
3. The Linkster
2. The Illinois Babe Magnet
1. The Abe-o-litionist
he,he,he, whatcha think? funny? :) I thought so! Hope you like your personalized Lip balm. How's your friend Jen? :) It's kinda weird to think your old enough that any woman could be "the" woman. I better start being nicer.
When you commin to visit? I'm lonely! Why not this summer. (Is there any way to talk you into this?) August is the best month to see mother nature. However, it's the hottest, stickiest month. December has the best temperature, but it is dusty and nothing lives. maybe October is the best time. But you'll be busy...
Anyway, I gotta dream... thatís all there is to do, sometimes.
I'm thinking of applying to the U of Hawaii. I bet everyone will come and visit me then!
If you come to the Gambia we can mountain bike across the country and into Senegal. Sound cool?! It could be! Think about it!
I guess that's all for now. I'm going to continue with the regularly scheduled letter.
Talk to you soon,
I love you!
P.S. Like your "gift"? It has 2 B's!:)
Dec 14, 1994
Happy New Year! How was California? I would have dropped you a note there bit I don't know Uncle Ken's address.
It is kinda chilly here and I brought nothing with long sleeves. So I took a button up school shirt from my boyfriend. I wear it every morning.
Last weekend he got very sick with 103.6 fever and uncontrollable shakes. I spent the weekend putting cold compresses and making cup-o-soups. He finally went to Sarakunda Sunday morning. He had sinusitis. He returned to site last nite.
I'm as healthy as always, just a runny nose and dry throat. But no big deal.
I was wonderin if you could send me a 5 subject spiral notebook. I am almost finished with mine. You can send it surface mail (cheaper rates).
How is winter in Ohio? I kinda miss it, kinda not. I just hate all the sand here! I can't wait until it rains in July. Then the plants will grow and hold some sand together more. But it's going to be a lot worse before it gets better.
I still don't know what I will do when I leave here. Maybe teach 8th grade but in an old traditional school. Not is a modern one. I am also looking at a psychology scholarship to the U of Hawaii. But I don't know if I want to live in Hawaii for 5 years (It is a joint Masters/PhD program). Plus I'd be 30 when I got out. SO old! So I keep looking. I still have one year before I start applying.
Oh Yeah! I also want to ask for garlic salt and teriyaki (spelling?) sauce! Bill got some great beef jerky and we are gonna try to make goat jerky.
All rite! I gotta go! Write soon and talk to you around Easter.
Dec 16, 1994
Great! I got your letters today AFTER I mailed out 3 to you and NOW I find you've moved home! So around Mid January I hope they are forwarded to you! I wonder if you will get this one before those?
What do i do in my resource center? Hmm... Good questions. Read, write letters. Um for work I'm in the process of making a card catalog. that's a lot of busy work. Plus organizing all the non-fiction in to the Dewey Decimal System.
Plus planning a weekly girlís class, monthly teacher seminars and Environmental Ed. Classes. I have a series of conferences in January designed to give me "direction". (Yes, it's like a library, but I'm supposed to "make it more").
Why do I hate it? Cause I', lazy and hate to get out of bed. I hate having a headmaster expect things from me. I don't want to "perform". I want to function. Just teach in a shitty boring ways, NOT be creative.
(I'm a total loser)
I'm over my "not wanting to write about me" stage. It was just frustrating to rehash. But as you see from my past letters me and Abby are together. It's weird. I'm reading your response to my letter about being frustrated. I remember writing that (6 weeks ago!) Me and Abhijit already have 2 months under our belt now!
Abhijit's right about the sex though (although our reasons are different). I'm having many medical glitches to worry about contaminating him rite now!)
So Bill has finally graduated. Congratulations to him! Guess you will be soon enough!
My Bill? He's a good friend. He better be considering I see him 3 times a day for meals and cards plus bike rides and such. I see Abby every Sat and Sun and on one else regularly. So Bill and I are good friends out of necessity. Hi is 23 and I worry that he's disappointed because he wrote the proposal to get a teacher placed here. He had definite ideas and goals and I'm just not interested. Things are improving.
My food? Spicy? well, not any more because I told my family I don't eat any pepper. So now they add no pepper and my "chew: (think oil with fine pieces on onion over rice) is very salty! (I like it!)
The meal you had WAS West African that is true (mostly Ghana dishes) but it made me laugh because I live amongst the poor. Chicken and vegetable are rarities in my food bowl. I had okra in training but never at site. Most sauces DO have onions, tomatoes, and rotted fish but it is ground up so fine you don't see anything (let alone taste!) But when I have money I buy eggplant (dirt cheap) and potatoes. Sometimes I get a small piece of pumpkin (they grow it here!)
I'm passing along this information: when eating spicy foods, eat bread or rice, not water. Water spreads the spice around. However, I still prefer the comfort of water!
Um, gross. i was writing while my pasta boiled. I had just begun eating (my mother sent me vegetable dip powder, which I put on my noodles making a bizarre Ramadan Noodle effect. Also side note, I was pissed at finding many holes in the bottom. "Do I have a mouse?! I thought I heard one last night"! Bill and Abhijit each have one)
ANYWAY! I'm in the middle of eating when the largest, blackest, cricket you've ever seen jumped smack into the center of the bowl and out again. (Too hot for his feet!)
Gross! Now he's somewhere...
(Yes, I still ate it!)
So, what was I saying?
Um, I wrote of Dakar. Dakar is the capital of Senegal. It is not in Gambia.
My traveling bug has demised. (Well, since I spend every Sat/Sun at Abby's I don't want to travel anywhere else). Plus I'm totally psyched about my travel in 1 1/2 years to Egypt, etc... I wanna ride a camel in the desert.
Thanksgiving I already told you about. A large affair at the Ambassadorís. Lot's of food and beer (I didn't drink though.)
Now I can reply to your card. I got both a letter AND card today! The card's cool because I put every card on my wall. It will cover the whole wall after 2 years! I totally appreciate ALL your letters! This last 2 weeks (week and a half) I only got 2 letters and 1 package. The letters BOTH from you! the package from a girl I'm barely friends with.
Which reminds me. I LOVE your packages, but it is a lot cheaper to send it surface mail. Just know surface mail takes 3 months. My dad uses it so did Lauren. (Got a Halloween package today) :)
Ring worm, hook worm, never thought about the cats. Maybe I'll look into it (like they really have cat medicine here!) I'm still hoping someone sends me flea collars!)
The rabies thing. No, they've improved the shots in the tummy to 2 in the arm, 3 days apart. I can't believe you had Thanksgiving at your place. Did you cook? How'd it go? Why not at Bills? And living with them! Wow! That will be a test (& not a fun one!) I'm sure you'll keep me updated!
My place? I rent. 120 D a month. So when I leave... nothing. No he doesn't pay for any repairs. Unfortunately I rely on Bill for all my business deals & he sucks at it. I have been screwed at every turn but I don't care! I wouldn't do better myself.
My mom. This is my "family". I call my landlord "father" and both his wives "mother". His eldest living wife lives in the same building as me.
And as far as weight loss! PLEASE keep the goodies coming! I am starving enough to lose weight. Sweets once a month don't add anything! I love them!
Did I tell you I wear size 12-14 depending on the brand. I told me mom to send jean shorts size 10/12. Maybe another 6 months. With all the biking I'm doing, my legs look great. but my BUTT is killing me! How do you do it? Do you still ride? I want my brother to mountain bike across country with me! Of course, as always, you are invited!
I'm droopy eyed! Time for bed. I'm riding my bike, the LONG trek to Abhijit's tomorrow. I'll tell ya how it goes!
Talk to you soon!
P.S. My kammo is cement lined and 20 feet down. I'm growing veggies on the surface. Anyways, wouldn't it be fertilizer!? :)
Just got back home from 24 hours with Abby. (Gambian name: Juma Sanyang pronounced Jew-ma Sun-young) It was really great. He let me live in my fantasy world of what our kids would look like, he would clean the house and how they would be raised. You know how men get scared at talk like that (especially after only two months!) But he handled it well.
Every day we discover more and more about what we don't have in common. He wants to raise his children as vegetarians who practice TiKwanDo. Polar opposites at everything! Not a match made in heaven. It's the Colin thing all over again. I know he's not "the one" but I'm too comfortable to look elsewhere. I think we'll be together AT LEAST one year.
Anyways, we spent most of the 24 hours cuddling in bed. Stopping to eat and we were supposed to see "Coming to America" (the compound across the street had rented it) but the tape didn't work so they showed "Snake eater" instead. Needless to say, we didn't stay! I took photos of the compound. I left my camera but I want to take pictures of his place and contrast mine to his. (He has electricity and A FAN and furniture!) I will also take a picture of the market. (I forgot to take Lumo pictures and I won't be at another until January sumpin.
P.S. If you didn't notice, no tape. Um, I said I was mailing you a tape but, I'm not. Sorry. Maybe later.
Dec 19, 1994
It's me! Just thinkin about the future. SO many options! I ruled out "Teaching English as a Second Language" degree. Now I'm thinking about teaching 8th grade Social Studies in Los Angeles. Still contemplating Nursing also. I've ruled out Psychology at the U of Hawaii.
I plan on traveling when I COS (Close of Service) in Sept. I'd like to fly to Casablanca, stay a couple of days, fly to Egypt, stay 1 1/2 seeing Cairo & Alexandria, then take a boat to Turkey & Greece. (I don't have the money for that part yet). Then finish in Italy & stay with Steffi for a little bit. Then home. Big plans I know! I'm still looking for scholarships & jobs for when I get home! I might as well do it since I'm already here. The government has paid the airfare for me to get this close!
So how are you & Mr. Brown? Still thinking of visiting? What about Robb?
The next 6 weeks will go very fast. You will probably get as many letters. Here's my schedule.
Tomorrow: Environmental Education Seminar in Kerewan
Wed: Go to Abhijit's
Thurs: Spend nite at friend Sarah's
Fri: Back to Abhijitís / call home
Sat (X-mass eve): Travel Down Country with Abhijit
Dec 27: Visit Dan / sleep over
Dec 31: Education Conference
Jan 2: Back to site
Jan 13: To Abhijit's
15-18: Environmental Education Conference
19-21: "Girls in Schools" Conference
(I will (we ALL will) be put in a hotel & fed & transportation provided. All the teachers in my group including Abhijit AND our Gambian counterparts. Mine is Mr. Mbye, grade 4 teacher)
Then back to site.
So, with all these events, this time should fly.
The time will fly except for today! Waiting to leave at 1pm. It's 10am now! I'll probably leave school earlier than I thought. I can't stand this waiting around!
Oh yeah, I'm working on writing my novel. It is hard and slow because It must be all by hand. No computers! But I've got 2 years!
Everyday I learn how much me & Abhijit don't have in common. He's a vegetarian who doesn't even eat seafood or chicken. He doesn't even ride horses because he feels like a "burden" to the animal. He likes spicy foods & speaks some Bengali. He considers me unworldly & sheltered & ignorant of other cultures. finds me quite conservative and prejudice in fact! PLUS he's a clean FREAK (and as you know, I'm a slob). We both have the same religious beliefs but I call myself Catholic & he calls himself Hindu.
But, so far the differences haven't presented too many problems. We're both flexible enough that the other's beliefs don't bother us too much. Besides, as they say, opposites attract. (Actually he's a lot like Dad in many ways). For example he bought 15 cans of sardines because they were on sale! He's very frugal :) & always lectures me when I spend all my dough! And, like Dad, he's losing his hair & he's getting there. Looks like Jack Nicholson. I tell him he better get married fast for soon he'll never catch a wife, with no hair!
It's 11:30am. I went home to go potty and found ANOTHER goat in my back yard. They're driving me crazy! My whole back yard gas a grass fence, however there is about 5 inches between the grass fence and my wall. The goats, dogs, and cats all go through there. So Bill filled in the hole with dry grass which they just pushed aside. I'm so mad! So I hung a towel over the fencing, figuring if they couldn't see in they wouldn't come in. Wrong! Midnight I chased 2 goats out (they practically demolished the fence trying to get out!) Then, before I could go back in the house a dog came ready to bust through. I yelled "Acha!" which means "Go away!" But it didn't move. I started banging the corrugate door, but it didn't move. I started to get scared, but quickly grabbed a rock and hurled it. The dog left!
So today, another goat! I dragged larger branches of pricker tree (And got totally tangled & ripped my dress in the process) over to the hole, plus more fencing. I know it will lock the hole, but I'm worried they will find (or eat) another way in!
Well, I just got two boys beaten, just now. I feel guilty & sad but... I didnít know what else to do. I'm friendlier than the other teachers & not as strict so, just like in the states, they take advantage of me more. The ONLY discipline they respond to is violence & even that, not very well.
So, I have girls in my center drawing. One of the boys entered. I asked him what he wanted & he said "Nothing." Well, they're not allowed to come in if they want "nothing" so I told him "Acha.". He said "No", smiling. I told him to go & he said "I am not going anywhere." but with a smile. I have no power over these kids. They crowd the doorways. I tell them to leave. They don't. If I get up to go after them. They run just out of reach & come right back. Not like at home where el. school kids are vaguely afraid.
So I sent for headmaster & I told him. He went to practically kill the kid, the teacher held him back. So I left but I'm sure he got beat.
Such is life.
It's lunch time now. The school just got food this week. Canned corned beef (like spam). So the school has 4 different meals.
Monday - Fish Domoda
Tues- corn beef Benechin
Wed - Corn beef Njkatungo
Thurs - Corn beef chew
It's the same every week. Today is Ngkatungo, which I don't eat. I normally do not get breakfast but my family knows I like Chukate Fasso (rice porridge) so they gave me some. Now I can miss lunch.
The 5th grade teacher just came to tell me if I ever have a problem with a student to tell him or Grade 4 teacher for Headmaster is not controllable & will injure a student. Great! :( Ah well, this is the Gambia!
Dec 25, 1994
The presents were Great! Thanks! Last night Eric and I went to a fancy Italian restaurant for Christmas Eve. Today were having a cook-out with 6 other friends! We bought steak & cheesecake! So things are good!
I talked to Robb and I'm trying to save money so he can visit. I feel bad that I went to Europe, Central America & Africa and he has never been anywhere. I have great plans for us. I'm hoping he can come in July. So I'm saving & hope he is too!
So that's that. It was good to talk to you! Hope you had fun in Florida. Oh! Scott & Tamara are getting married Sept 2! Wow! They'll be married before they're parents ever meet them and the Ambassador has offered his house for the reception. Wow!
Turns out 11 people came to the party and it lasted all nite! I gotta go! Love you!
Hi! What's going on? I'm sitting (a little chilled) in a 70 degree morning. It's 9am. I am waiting for a bush taxi to take Bill and I to Kerewan. We are going to an Environmental Education Seminar. It is the first of many I will be attending. I am happy that I will be put up in a hotel for a week. Our rooms, food, and transportation are all paid.
Christmas is near. You are probably in California right now. Speaking of California, I'm thinking of applying for a teaching job in LA. Peace Corps has a program there. I am constantly looking for new options and still contemplating nursing.
I am very excited that you have offered to help me on my trip. I am planning and will get prices during Christmas holiday. I'm definitely planning on Casablanca to Egypt. I will see if I have enough money to get to Italy where I will stay with Steffi. Her and her husband are stationed there. It is still a long time away but the rates are cheaper if you plan ahead.
I have begun mountain biking. I always think of Robb when I do. I know he bikes at home a lot. I write him and tell him he should come here and we could bike the country. But he never writes back! Oh well!
It's 10am now and we are still waiting. I bought panketos for a dalasi. This is the grease ---> They are like round pancake balls. Kinda greasy but one of the better food items. This is how transportation goes here. The meeting starts at 11am. A vehicle is coming and it's 10:15. We must catch this one.
It's 11am. I DID catch that taxi. A fellow Peace Corps - Sarah, was on board. The driver said it was too packed but I climbed in anyway and sat on the floor. Bill was unable to get on. He said he's catch the next one. (Could be 5 minutes or an hour).
Anyways, the driver said we were going to Kerewan, he did not mention we would go to Kaopata first. It is out of the way. So now I sit at the Kaopata waiting to go the Kerewan. I'll keep you updated.
I got to the meeting at Noon. Bill arrived the same time we did. It was good to see my friends. I was sad that Jean wasn't there. But I should see her at Christmas.
I will spend Christmas eve traveling down to Sarakunda with Abhijit. Perhaps we'll do dinner. I don't know. I don't even know what I'm doing for Christmas!
At any rate I am leaving Illiasa today! I am happy about that! I still need to go home and pack.
I guess I'll end it here. Merry (be-lated) Christmas & Happy New Year. Tell Uncle Ken & the rest of the family "hello" for me!
And I'll call you Easter morning. OK?
Dec 23, 1994
The Tevas (sandals) were exactly what I needed! I've had no sandals only tennis shoes & flip flops. (Tennis shoes are not good when the entire country is sand & flips flops are good sometimes but not on a LONG walk.)
And more Crystal Lite. It was good to see the fruit punch (new flavor) :) and of course it's always great to see batteries.
So, it's almost Christmas. I weighed myself & it took me 2 1/2 weeks to lose the weight I gained during Thanksgiving! (10lbs!) I'm worried for I'll be spending a month down here, put in a hotel & fed! Who knows what I'll gain. At least I'll have 6 months to lose it before the next food feast. (4th of July). I don't think we do much for Easter.
I'm sending you negatives. Could you make a set of pictures & mail them. You wrote that you liked seeing my pictures so I figured you want to see these. If not... just keep the negatives for me. But I'll tell you what the pictures are anyway:
00: Phone booth in the center of my village. It looks so out of place.
1: Batabaa (place where me sit all day)
2: Tree on main Illiasa road
3: Truck I rode on the back of to get to my friend Jennifer's
4: One of the 4 flat tires I got in 3 days.
5: My friend Jennifer outside her house
6: Poopsy on left, Lamin & Fatou on right
9: Eric eating Benechin with bitter tomatoes
10: Tim & the morning after the Halloween party
11: Abby & Amy
12: Me, my chickens & my family
13-20: Various stages of chicken death
21: Where my food is cooked
22: Me & Omi the baby in my compound
23: The well in my compound for extra water (not drinking)
24&25: Me & Bill in a bush taxi with 3 goats
26: Jason outside his house
27: Sharon in her backyard
28: Sharon in her house
29: The girls in my compound building pounding rice (3 times every day)
30: Scott in his backyard
31: Me in Scott's backyard
32: The building of my bathing pad / bathroom
33: The mason in my backyard
34: Girls braiding hair on my front porch
35: My 2 moms & Omi (my favorite picture!)
At any rate, keep the negatives in a safe place for me
Dec 25, X-mas
I talked to Robb on the phone. He wants to come visit. I would love that. I was thinking how I went to Europe, Central America & Africa twice and Robb's never gone anywhere. I feel real bad so I'm going to use the money I'm saving for him instead of for me to travel. I want him to see some of the world.
I'm already planning his trip. All his lodging will already be paid because I have 2 houses. I'm going to borrow a bike & we'll go mountain biking all across the country & into Senegal! It will be great & we will eat & travel cheap. Not at tourist prices. I'm hoping for a visit in July when we're both out of school. maybe 2 weeks or 3. Some of my friends had family here for Christmas.
For Christmas we bought steaks & were cooking them outside over a fire. Plus potatoes, carrots, salad, spaghetti, garlic bread, & cheesecake.
Me, Eric, Jean, Ted, & some girlfriends.
Last nite for Christmas Eve Eric & I went to a fancy Italian restaurant. There was a guy working there from Cleveland! He's only been here 3 months! Crazy!
Speaking of Cleveland, the Browns kicked butt last nite yeah?! Guess their in the playoffs!
So, I gotta go. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year. Share the pictures with Peggy. She is living on **** right now as she interns at *******
To my PC Table of Contents