Feb 1, 1995
I got a letter from you this week - an old one. You hadn't gone to Chicago yet. Guess it got lost on the way.
"Toubob" means white tourist or foreigner. It's not considered an insult. Here as in many places it's considered better to be white/foreigner than black/native. So it's a "compliment" but it is annoying to hear it 100x a day. Especially because we don't want to be seen as tourists. We live here.
Do I ever stay in one place? Well, no. I go to Farafini every Tuesday night and sleep there for I work Wed. morning with the Farafini clinic outreach team. (We go weigh and measure babies). And I got back again on Fri or Sat to spend the weekend with Abhijit. The lumo is Sunday and that is when the other's visit. And I go Down Country. Supposed to be
one weekend a month but... I've spent 3 weeks so far this month. (Had that conference). And I must come back for a pap smear on the 16th. Abhijit wants me screened for all diseases. If I pass - we can go condom free.
I'm glad to hear you're talking to people in your Africa class. I’m sure you're learning a lot by just talking to the black Americans.
My landlord "father" has survived the scorpion sting. They're usually not deadly, just incredibly painful. We had a baby boy born in the compound in Dec. Say-koo. It is the eldest daughters son. She is "not quite married". She's kinda married but the FULL dowry has not been paid my the man. So she lives at home. I hope he comes through but... it's been over a year and he hasn't finished paying.
No, I don't need AAA batteries. Just AA for my Walkman.
And an uncircumcised penis? Well, first of all, he's Indian so it's dark brown when hard, black when soft. When it's hard it mostly looks like a regular one (and a big one at that). It's hard to explain. The foreskin totally covers the penis when soft. Like it's in a skin baggie. No veins or contours. Just "U" shaped. When it gets hard the skin stays the same size but the penis grows so the bag recedes and the head comes out. The hardness "fills" the bag so there's not a lot of skin left over. But when he puts a condom on he pulls the skin forward, to try and cover the tip and puts it on with the skin all extended. But it doesn't look that different hard, only soft it looks weird. Hard - he's incredibly sexy. I think pubic hair looks a lot better on dark tan skin than on white pale skin. He's HOT! It's just unfortunate he is losing his hair. He definitely makes a "not so sexy" bald man! He's not dealing with it well. He's always had thick black hair. And he's always relied on his appearance. He's always known he was sexy and attractive. So he's getting nervous that now it will be only his personality. I'm taking it as hard as he is. (You know I find looks kinda important). He's sexy NOW but by the time YOU meet him... Oh well, nothing we can do now but donate to Rogaine.
I'm sure I've written this lot's of times but... I know what I want to do when I get home. I'm going to nursing school. I hope to eventually teach nursing at nursing school or at a University. I'm going to apply to John Hopkins in Baltimore and another in Nashville TN. Abhijit will wait until I get accepted and then look for a job. When I graduate we will move to CA and start a family.
So that's the scoop. Gotta go back to site. (I'm at the office waiting for Abhijit!)
Feb 1, 1995
How ya doing? I'm in the Kombo. I am hosting and planning an environmental education conference on the 10th & 11th. So I've been making invitations & getting funding. I am packed and ready to return to site and BAM! Abhijit gets sick. He's been complaining about a sore throat. I thought he was such a baby. So he went to the clinic and they took him to another clinic. So he REALLY is sick. MRC is where he is now, next step is Dakar. But I'm sure he's all right. BUT he may not be able to leave until tomorrow! I've GOT to get back! I have so many projects.
Did I tell you a baby was born in my compound? SayKoo. Also, during our IST Conference we went on a field trip to a soap factory, plastic factory, and a brewery. At the plastic factory I talked the guy into giving me a bucket with a lid. A 53D value!
I'm always thinking about the future. I plan to apply to John Hopkins University in Baltimore. I want to get a Nursing degree. Then someday teach nursing at nursing school or a University. Abhijit and I are planning to live together. To move to where I go to school & when I graduate, go to CA. time will tell.
It's rally been a vacation the last 2 days. I worked during the day. But last nite. I went & bought chicken and fries, diet coke, chocolate ice cream cone, rented 2 movies (My Girl 2 and another) and sat in front if a fan and watched! Sounds like home! But don't fear, I'll be back in Illiasa soon.
I'm getting into health and working with the Farafini health clinic. Every Wednesday I travel with the out reach team to weigh and measure babies. I really think I want to teach nursing. My projects here will look great on the application for admission.
I'm gonna go make some calls for some information. Thanks so much for the underwear and the pictures. Who is Mike G....? Grandma sent his photo and says he remember me. From when?! It was great to get a package from you & Grandma. I also loved the hair tie. And I finished all your pasta powders! Yum! Thanks so much!
Feb. 4, 1995
Written in the back of a booklet for families of PC Volunteers.
I just wrote a long letter to Grandma and Grandpa so I don't know if I have much to say. I hope this book is useful. I don't know but they handed um out so...
I'm working on this EE Conference. I cleaned out the center today. Between the rats, birds, and wasps, it was truly a "Peace Corps" day. I cleaned the cabinet, changed the calendar, and changed the posters on the on the wall. I finished most of the posters for the battery drive. When people discard batteries here they throw them (like we do) with the rest of the trash. Only problem is, all their trash gets dumped on the ground SO batteries and other trash litter the ground everywhere. But babies play in the dirt and put batteries in their mouths or animals eat them or they disintegrate and destroy the soil. So we are digging a mass grave and having a school competition to see who can bring in the most batteries. The winners... we haven't decided, but I think they will get an "American" meal in my house with me, Bill, and Headmaster. I'm making a chart fir each class so we can keep track.
This conference and project are very important to me. If it is successful I hope to have one a month.
Plus a man has asked me to start a women's training center at one of my school's. A night school for women. For health and how to make antiseptic soap and how to extract oil from the groundnuts. That will be MAJOR. I've barely been able to think about that yet. Got to get this conference done first.
Continues to Feb 5
It's 8:30 am. I'm waiting for transportation to the lumo. The weekly market in Farafini. i don't have much money because I spent almost a week down country (about 120D a day) and I bought my chairs and coffee table (400D). But the volunteers in this area all meet on Sundays for the event. For most of us it is the only time we can get food or any other goods. Abhijit is lucky to live among food and Gambian restaurants. He can buy a plate of meat or onion omelet for 10D. Plus that FAN! It's getting so hot! And the flies and mosquitoes are back! I itch all over! I'm gonna miss winter. It's gonna be a LONG YEAR. But Jan and Feb are going fast with all the work I'm doing. And when school get's out I'll be traveling and hanging out at Tendaba Camp for health Training.
Still no vehicle in sight. But lot's of old men waiting. I'm gonna have to bully my way on (Whenever it get here!)
Lots of children are walking by carrying little stools or chairs. Besides my school there is a Koranic School (Muslim). It is very poor. The kids need to take their own chairs every day. Parents send their kids there because it's free. Also the concentration on the Koran, training good Muslims. they don't learn English or much of anything else. I guess it's better than nothing.
Great, a group of 8 just arrived on a horse cart from a nearby village. Now they will fight to get in a vehicle. I have a big task before me. :)
I'm excited about applying to John Hopkins for the PC Fellows Program in Nursing. They give you a full time job with pay as you study. Abhijit has agreed to move there if I get accepted.
It's 9am, I only waited 1/2 hour. Pretty good. A pick-up came by with more people in it than you've ever seen in you're life. It stopped here and somehow 2 more men managed to get on. They're even sitting on the rim of the back with legs hanging on the outside. (I didn't get on). Then a bush taxi came. But these old women were greeting me and I couldn't run to the taxi like everyone else. So I was behind, but trying to shove my way on, when the old lady grabbed me and told me to get in the front with the driver. So here I sit! And he's starting the engine now. So gotta go.
How you doin? I'm thinking of you and I am thankful that you write so often and send me things. I have not received one letter from Kate or Ken or Jeff. Only 2 from my brother. I know I can always count on a letter from you every time I check the mail. By now you have received my letter about Abhijit. I can't wait for your response. I called my brother and I said "You're going to freak. Guess what." and he said "You're getting married."
I asked him how he knew and he said it was the only thing I could say to make him freak. Of course it's a long way away.
I've got a rash and it itches like crazy! It's on my inside of my right elbow, my upper arm, and my face! I'm dying! :) (Not really, don't freak.) I'm supposed to see the nurse on the 16th for a gyno exam but I don't know if I can wait that long!
The sun is setting. Dinner will be here any moment. We eat as soon as the sun sets because it is Ramadan. During Ramadan the people (except SMALL children and the sick) do not take food or water from the sun up to sun down. Yesterday I was with Abhijit at the market right when the sun set. It was amazing Everyone was drinking Lait, Attayia, Sou (hmm... all things we don't drink in the states) and everyone was at the tap thrusting cups under the spigot and chugging. It was a crazy scene. It is HOT here. I drink a pitcher of water a day. I don't know how they can do it.
Lait = hot chocolate minus the chocolate and with tons of sugar
Attayia = a STRONG tea with tons of sugar
(They are brewed the same way, takin about 45 min to brew and mix. You drink 1-2 shots of it.
Sou = sour milk
Out of the 3 I only drink lait.
I don't know if I mentioned the environmental ed. conference I am planning, but it's been postponed until March. Now I have more time to get speakers and plan and more through conference.
It's so hot. The cold season was too short. The flies and mosquitoes are back. I think you're gonna hear a lot of bitching from me in the next 9 months!
So thanks for writing. I look forward to your letters.
Love your sister
P.S. Can you send me Denise's address?
Feb 14, 1995
Just a note to say hi. And freak about my relationship. We're still talking marriage. It seems every week something MAJOR happens that strengthens our relationship. It's not teen age love type feelings. It's realistic, sensible, plotting about the future. He hasn't even SAID love yet. Although I know he does. I can tell in the way he tries to talk to me and calm me down when I get upset. But everyday, our future becomes more clear. Us - together - forever. Weird.
I wrote a long letter to my grandparents asking them to give you a copy. It is not a "personal" letter. More an update on life here. I am still waiting for mom to mail my photos. She DID mail me photos of my car all fixed up. (Maybe I'll buy it back when I get home! :)and a photo of Mr. B. And one of her from Glamour Shots.
I don't know what else to say about Abhijit. But I want to talk about him. He liked me at 215 lbs and likes me now at 174. He hates when I talk about losing weight. His sister was bulimic and it scares him. He doesn't care what I eat. If I want ice cream after dinner I feel really guilty.
try and get that letter from my Grandma, it explains about Ramadan, the food availability, my banana tree and what I hope to do when I leave here.
Of course it doesn't mention a wedding. I don't want to get my grandparents upset quiet yet. The weddings a LONG way off and who knows if they're even be around. (Of course I pray they are but I don't want their lasts thoughts of me to be anger if the DON'T make it).
I've gotta go ride my bike to one of my schools. We're making clay stoves that burn less wood. Then I need to plan my Environmental Ed conference, This is my most important work endeavor of my life. If I do a good ob, I think I'll finally be happy. (God I hope so). There was an attempt to overthrow the gov. It failed and no one cares. No danger. Nothing. It's a different world here. Do you realize this country is only 150 miles long and 30 wide? I live about 70 in land. This country is smaller than it appears on a map. 30 miles is to small to appear on that scale so they enlarge it. See a West Africa map and it looks a lot smaller.
P.S. I can't get a hold of Ken. Can you try?
Valentine Postcard to Peggy
"i don't believe in dumping my best girl because some bum with a car, cash, and a healthy sex drive comes a-knocking" - diane paylor
Definitely! It was great to find a Valentine for my best girlfriend instead of for a man! (Too bad it comes from SASSY magazine!):)
You'll always be my first love, the friend who stuck by me the longest. "My Best Friend" Thanks for being there for me when you can't be HERE. I hope things are great for you and your Valentine. I look forward to your wedding as much as I'll ever look forward to mine. You're my sister and I love you
Feb 25, 1995
Hi. How ya doing? I got two letters from you but one was troublesome. I always write and thank you for everything you send but your letter says I don't. I hope this does not mean you are not receiving all my letters.
I have been very busy these 2 months. The training week was great. I also began working with the Farafini health clinic. Every Tues I go to Abhijit's & spend the nite so I can go at 8am to the clinic. We go out to a village, weigh the babies & give immunizations. I really enjoyed it. But this woman trained me totally wrong. I KNEW it but... what was I supposed to do? She was my trainer? So the end of the day comes & the boss told me I did it all wrong. Which I knew, but the woman didn't say anything. So, they let me work any station I want. I'll just never work at her station again.
For the last 2 weeks I was Down Country. Trying to put together a 2 day environmental conference. I was running around writing proposals, getting rejected, finally I go the money. I made photocopies, wrote some work sheets, made math dittos. I got conned out of some money in Banjul & had to write all the paperwork out. I finally got reimbursed.
A book shipment came in. I went with our Resource woman & got a set of encyclopedias for our school.
Abhijit cam down. He as a massive infection on his throat. They are going to cut it out on Wednesday. His aunt is visiting from England. I'm sure she’s thrilled. I've had some problems myself: allergies & hyper sensitivity. I'm all itchy & blotchy. Yuck.
Also, I started a battery drive at our school. You know we have no method of garbage disposal. SO batteries are just tossed on the ground where they get in the water and soil, or babies put them in their mouths. So we started a contest. The first say I collected 6000 batteries. Now, after 2 weeks we have 11,000! We will have 2 more days of collecting. The top student from each grade gets a prize. They will be presented at the conference. And we will bury the batteries in cement.
After the conference I have a couple projects
1. Teacher training program - monthly
2. Health / Environmental Clubs in school
3. Women's training center
4. Special "Girl's Classes"
and some other things.
So I'm pretty busy. I've still gotta contact some people & write some speeches. Plus I have a pen-pal program. I've gotta collect & check all the letters.
I'm also hoping to start planting trees and veggies in my backyard next week. It's so bare!
So that's the story. Kinda busy. But when I'm busy time goes faster. That's good!
Yes, I'm looking into Nursing. I'd actually like to teach nursing someday. I'm looking into it.
Talk to you soon. (Should I call around Easter? Give me a day & time. Is Robb coming home?)
(When you coming to visit :)
Feb 25, 1995
It's been 1 1/2 months since I've heard from you! what's going on?! I figure you haven't gotten my letters because I sent them to Columbus. What about the tape? I'm a little worried about you but you're probably really with your internship. I've been super busy too. I've been working on raising money and setting up an Environmental Education Conference. I was going crazy trying to get the money. But I finally did it! I've just got guest speakers and everything! I started a battery drive. (Kids pick up batteries thrown on the ground. Remember there is NO garbage disposal system here.) So far the kids have collected 1100 batteries! It's amazing. But I got sick from handling all the acid. I have hypo-sensitivity and allergies. I itch constantly. Abhijit also, he has a huge boil on his throat and they are going to cut it open on Wednesday.
Did I tell you I'm working with the health clinic? Things are finally rolling for me. I hope it stays at this pace. FAST! It makes the time move. I'll write you on how the conference turns out. I've just been so busy and need to drop a couple other letters.
I got a picture of me and Abhijit but left it at Abhijit's by accident. I'll send it soon. And God, it's about 100 degrees today. I'm melting!
Feb 25, 1995
I got 2 letters from you this month.
It is SO hot here. I'm inside my house sweating. It is WAY too hot to go outside. Probably 110 degrees. And I'm out of water until 6pm. I've gotta get some water from the well for my banana tree.
In a week we will plant trees all along my fence. It is a grass fence that is drying out and becoming a see-through. So I want some bushy plants to block the view for when I bathe.
I've been very busy this month planning my Environmental Education conference. I was frantic trying to raise money but I did it! The conference is March 10 and 11. I'm very excited. This month has gone very fast. Things are finally falling into place. Maybe every month will be this good.
I have had some skin problems though. Itchy! I have hypo-sensitivity and allergies. Yuck. But Abhijit is also sick. He has a huge infection on his throat and they are going to cut it out on Wednesday. His aunt is visiting from England. What bad timing!
I still haven't heard from Robb. I'm going to have to beat him if he does not write soon.
I will write and tell you how my conference and other projects turn out.
have you thought about sending Robb for a visit? I wish he’d write and tell me.
Have you seen Peggy. She's staying with her parents while she does her internship. She's been too busy to write also. Guess we're all busy people.
I will write and tell you how my conference and other projects turn out.
So not much to report. Working hard, cats are good. I'm working with the health clinic. And I am supposed to set up a women's training center! I'll keep you updated!
Feb 26, 1995
Grandma & Grandpa
It is so hot! About 100 degrees! I'm sweating! I am anxiously awaiting my conference. I have been working hard. I still have to write my speech. I'm sure things will be great!
How's Mike? Is he still with you? I can't believe how BIG he is! My cats here are wonderful! I will be sad to leave them here. I have to get their rabies shots next month.
The school battery drive is going well. We've collected 11,000 batteries so far! Wow! Now we have to bury them in cement.
I have a banana tree names Fred. I have to water him every day. Next week I hope to plant some bushes.
Thanks so much for the $20. I really appreciate everything you do for me. I love you very much. But the months go my fast & I'll me home before you know it! I miss everyone very much.
Spring is coming. That's nice for you but I can't believe it is going to get hotter here! Yuck! And my cats are giving me fleas. But the good news is they catch all the rats. Everyday they have another one!
I love you and Thank you!
Feb 27, 1995
I'm super busy and this has to go out this morning so i'm sorry this is so short.
I'm sending you my W2 Peace Corps form since you'll get all my other stuff.
This is also a role of film, keep the negatives for me and send me a copy. It has a picture of me and my boyfriend.
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