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JANUARY1995



Jan 4

Hi Mom,
I hate to start out a letter on a not that might bug ya but...

Abhijit and I are really, really happy together. We were doing horribly when I talked to you on the phone. I didn't think we'd make it but... We had an excellent week and he's finally committed 100%. New Year's was great. It was awesome having someone to kiss on New Year's (How about yourself :)
(Oh wait, you were probably asleep:)

We traveled back to site together. It's a long trip. We got on the bus at noon and walked in his door about 7:30 pm. We made some agreements and for my part I gotta start eating mushrooms and other stuff I hate. He wants me to eat ALL foods. Yuck! I can't believe it's a big deal to him.

Speaking of food. I only gained 2 1/2 pounds over Christmas. Much better than 13 at Thanksgiving! I'm 176. With no holidays in site I plan to be 160 by July 4th. (One year here). Jan 15-21 I will be at a conference at the SunWing Hotel. I hear it's pretty nice. I'm looking forward to it! They have a pool. It's an Environmental Education / Girl's in the school (2 separate workshops).

I am trying to start a health club at school. If I am successful my boss says I can train in Tendaba again this summer as a health educator. She is even talking about me extending a year to work in health. Extending is a good deal but I don't know. That's a long way off. I have to see about Abhijit and things.

So, I guess that's it. Please try to be happy for me. My boss loves me (Good references) I'm starting important work and I'm in love! I couldn't be happier (plus I'm gettin skinny.) I'm sending a role of film with pictures of me and Abhijit. Please tell me what you think.
I love you
Wendy

Jan 4, 1995

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
How's California?! My Christmas was great. The week just got better and better. Christmas Eve Eric and I went to a fancy tourist restaurant for dinner. We spent $6 a piece (a lot of money. At site I pay $5 a month!) But we wanted to have a nice time and forget we weren't home. One of the cooks were from Cleveland!

Christmas Day we had 15 people over. We grilled steaks and chicken. Plus salad, MASHED POTATOS, 2 types of gravy, garlic bread, corn, CARROTS, SAUTEED ONIONS AND EGGPLANT, spaghetti, fried zucchini, FRESH FRUIT SALAD (BANANAS< PAPAYA< PINEAPPLE). Dessert was cookies and CHEESECAKE. (I capitalized what I made).

I was kinda sad, I was supposed to spend this time with my boyfriend but he didn't come. But when he finally came down we got along great. By New Year's Eve we were awesome! And we traveled back to site together on the 2nd. We are blissfully happy.

I was bummed - the eldest in my compound had a baby boy while I was gone. I wanted to be here for that.

As far as traveling this summer, I plan to stay and go back to training camp to study health. My supervisor wants me to extend to 3 years and be a health educator. I don't know yet.

I don't plan to travel until I finish here in 1996. Then I'll use my Peace Corps plane ticket, cash it in, buy a cheaper flight. I'll use the extra to fly to Egypt. Save the money for me somewhere where it can collect interest. Or use it to send Robb to visit me. I'd love to see him.
Anyway! I love you
Wendy

Jan 5, 1994

Hey Peg,
Well you sound mighty busy. I'm a little crabby rite now. I'm sitting in my backyard right now, topless, under the beating sun. It's 10 am and over 90 degrees. I thought I had my goat problem fixed. And BAM! a goat burst right through my fence. I was pissed.

Then, these damn kids won't leave me alone. Staring through my fence bugging me. I'm topless damn it! I want some privacy but these kids have no shame. If I yelled at little kids to go away back home they would, but not here! You got to chase and beat um or throw rocks at um. I hurled a rock over my fence thinking it was kids, but it was my kitten Lamin. (Sorry baby...)

Well, despite what I have written I DID make a New Year's resolution to be more productive as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I have decided to start a health program. It COULD be the beginning of a new career IF I get off my ass.

It sounds like you have been running hectic for the holidays. Got a little domestic, did ya? Baking cookies and such :) What did Barry get ya for Christmas?

I loved hearing your ****/********* Christmas party story. It's nice to know you can get as uncomfortable as me in those spots. But you pulled it off and will be twice as confident next time. I can sympathize with Barry. He probably didn't have the greatest time of his life. I know I'd be freakin!

I don't know who the woman in my Dad's car is. He doesn't tell me anything. And you should talk to Robb sometime. He's easy to talk to and he likes to talk about me. But he tells me he's never coming home again so... (He hates Dad). Actually he just hates the position he's put in by both parents.

Yeah, Steve came home. I asked Robb about it but he tells me nothing.

I think my ringworm's gone. Although just today it appears I have a new one on my breast, but I swear it is just a scratch gone crazy. We'll see, but I'm treating it with my anti fungal cream.

The political situation... weird. Half the people say the shit's gonna hit the fan. Half the people say nothing's gonna happen. My gut instinct is nothing will happen but I'm hoping :) (Always one for excitement!)

Over the holiday's the coup leader announced a total rejection of democracy. He wants communism. But the next day he denied saying it.

The test will be April That is when the reserve funds will have been totally emptied and gov workers (including teacher will not be able to get paid. If there are strikes, I don't teach. If I don't teach... Peace Corps will put me somewhere where I can. But my life will never be in danger. It's all internal conflict.

No big news from home. Tryin to convince my family to send Robb. Lot's of people had family here for X-mass!

(I totally spilled your Kool-Aid down my bare chest.)

Yes, by the way. I loved your package. Molly McCheese, Season Salt and Oreos were great. And the batteries! I was in love with it all! Thanks Peg.

Which reminds me, I managed to gain only 2 pounds over X-mass as opposed to 13 over Thanksgiving. I'm 176 and now with all the holidays gone... I'm expecting another drop.

Meanwhile Abhijit is struggling to gain weight. He's 5'7" and has dropped from 168 to 146. He's not happy at all. It's kinda funny because he used to be fat and lost weight at home. Weight is a weird thing.

We are doing excellent. He has finally decided to let go and just go with it. We are so happy it's disgusting. And the sex has improved 100%. He holds my hand in public and says sweet things. I'm glad I hung in there instead of calling it quits. (I wanted to many times!)

Jean (my closest friend here) messed around with Eric and I was really upset. That's about when Abhijit changed and now I don't care who the hell Eric screws around with.

Abby and I are working out our problems but we've stumbled on to one. It doesn't matter yet... but it will if we stay together. He's a work-a-holic and I refuse to spend my life someone who lives at work. He's said we won't worry about it now. But it kinda nags at the back of my mind.

Oh well, I'm about as happy as I get. So, I'll end it at that!
Love
Wendy
PS I'm enclosing pictures I meant to enclose earlier.

Jan 11, 1995

HI Peg,
I SHOULD bathe right now but.... I'll do it tomorrow I think. I have a yeast infection which has put me from a good mood to a bad. Actually I HOPE it's a yeast infection. Dating Abhijit makes me paranoid that I have some disease because he's super paranoid. I mean crazed about it. So every time something weird happens I fill with guilt and assume I have some disease. I still have some bizarre things on my thighs that MAY be contagious but the doctor says "Don't worry about it". I finally wasn't worried about it and me and Abby have been REAL happy! But today I have some major discharge. I'll get checked out this week. I am going Down Country anyways. In the meantime I'm using monostat &. But Abby is coming here in 2 days and we are spending a week in a hotel. So we will have sex before I find out what this is AND we can't et TOO intimate if I'm filled with Monostat. I guess I shouldn't worry. :)

So, now that I got that out... how are you? Did ya get my tape? Were ya bored?

Me and Abby are super happy. We commit more everyday, You could possibly end up meeting this one... We'll see. He's great except he's losing his hair. A bald Indian is not a sexy Indian. :)

I'm still dropping weight and I am ecstatic about it. I devoured all your goodies and hot chocolate! I use the season salt every nite!

I have a lot of plans to move into health. But I can't start anything until I get back from this conference. I'll update you then!

Tomorrow is Thursday. Abby is comin for his 1st visit Friday. I will spend the whole day preparing. (Like there's much to do!) But I'll clean, do my laundry delicates, buy a chicken. My family is killing the chicken for him, to honor my husband. Abby - the vegetarian, is not happy about that! He lives in the big city where they don't do these customs anymore!

I'll write soon, from the conference!
Love
Wendy

Jan 17, 1995

Dear Peg,
Hi! Whaz up? me... I think I'll try and call you this week. I guess I kinda have news.

I think Abhijit is "the one". I think we MAY get married. We talk about it a lot. If he asked me today I'd say yes. I' just worried I won't love him 7 years from now.

Of course we wouldn't get married until we got back home. We have to see if we belong together in America. It's super scary. 1/2 of me thinks - this will never work! But 1/2 of me... says this is it. I guess only time will tell. I just wish I knew NOW. His mother is thinking of vacationing in Greece this summer. Abhijit is thinking of flying us both there and then down to Egypt. If he does that... that's a pretty huge deal.

My mind tells me this won't happen, we won't marry but I feel real weird physically. When I'm near him my heart pounds so hard. Other times my heart hurts real bad, like it's being squeezed. I feel physically so intense. Is it love or high cholesterol? What's happening? (Are my parents going to go Ape Shit?) I had a dream last night where my dad totally mocks Abby and drives away.

I think maybe it's anxiety. But as of now we plan on marrying. We are discussing careers and what state to live in. He says if I want to go to law school (not really) he ill work and support me and send me.

Everyday we get more intense. He's jumping ahead just like me. We're like two high school kids having a first love.

I know this letter rambles but... I'm kinda freaked. It is WAY to early to make announcements but as of now... anyways! I want to write of other things but I can't! I'm a bundle of nerves. But, you know how my plans always change!

I'm putting a package together for you for all B-days and X-mass’s until I get back. However, I'm waiting for one thing "on order". A man is going to Mail to get it. So then I will send it.

Take care, be happy. I miss you! I'm thinking we may have a traditional pagan wedding here before our real one in the states. You should think about coming.
Love
Wendy



Jan 18

Hi Dad,

Um, I don't often write to you about my personal life too much but I want to tell you. I'm in a serious relationship.
My boyfriend is a hardworking electrical engineer. He is thinking of flying both of us to Greece and Egypt to vacation with his family.

He is a wise business man and is researching investment opportunities here. I think he is buying land here.

He is very impressed with your idea to teach the stock market in school. I told him you own stocks plus some condos. He is looking forward to someday, meeting you. Whenever I complain how you only buy food on sale like 20 cans of tuna he says you are a smart shopper and he does the same. He hates how money runs through my fingers. he's trying to get me to save and budget.

We are going to come to the states together. He is applying for jobs in the cities I am applying to schools. He is planning on helping to put me through school. It looks like the financial burden of ME has been passed from you to a new man.

He plans on buying a house as soon as I get accepted to school. He does not want to rent. He hopes that after school we will get a house in California. Somewhere in there we will marry.

He's so smart and thrifty with money. He worked for the military before coming here. His family was not too happy he left such a high paying job to come here. But he will easily get another when we return.

So, that's all my news. I am in a week long conference in a beautiful hotel. Since the counter-coup, tourists have been advised not to visit the Gambia. So all the hotels are empty. So Peace Corps got a VERY cheap rate & we are staying on the ocean. My room has an ocean view. the food is excellent. And we have HOT showers! My 1st in 7 months!

The days are long though. Speaker after speaker. It is 3 days on Environmental Ed and 4 days on Women in Development.

I have learned this week that my job & title are more important than I thought. I run the ONLY Environmental Resource Center in the country. So ALL through the conference people came to me with questions and ideas.

An important delegation from Washington is checking out my center today to see if it is a worthwhile cause.

I've been approached to have environmental conferences and to begin a women's tie-dying technical center. It's kinda scary.

Abby is doing so much. He runs clubs, started an orchard, sits on committees, teaching Saturday school in addition to all week & tutor's every evening. He is so dedicated.

So, my "Description of Service" will look very full on my resume.

So, that's about it. Do you every see Peggy? Bill finally graduated and is a teacher! I'm doing good. My weight has been sitting at 174 for a month now. But the hunger season hits in June. Food will be scarce so... I hope to drop again.

I am getting involved in health. I maybe working at a health clinic this summer. And my boss has recommended I go back to Tendaba Camp for training in Health Ed. We shall see. Depends on if Abby takes me to Greece!

So I gotta go. I just thought I'd tell you I'm planning a future and a marriage with a very hard working, responsible man.
Love
Wendy

Jan 23

Hey Peg,
Where to start? Let's see. Tell me what EXACTLY you do at work. What do you do with a client. So you just add stuff up :)!? I don't understand what you or your company does.

How was Planet Hollywood?
So you saw Mr. Brown at Triple A. Yes, the trip to Florida was with my mom. They went to visit his parents. Must be weird to meet your "boyfriend's" parents when you're 55!

So me, well, hmm. I just the most intense week of my life. It was at the conference where Abhijit and I shared a room and lived together.

Basically we planned our lives. Marriage, school, jobs, houses, etc... It was SCARY. I had anxiety attacks all week. This is REAL. We are seriously getting married! Shit! God, I don't know. I don't know if the pluses outweigh the major minuses.

The pluses: He's incredibly sexy (actually not for long, by the time Peace Corps is finished he'll be bald and unattractive.) Anyways. He's smart and hardworking. He's got a large savings account and is going to buy a house. (I don’t care about the money, but the fact that he HAS it indicates a lot about him, responsibility, hardworking, etc...) He wants me to be happy and will put me through school for anything I want. He says I can be a housewife if I want.

I'm tired of dating around (and sleeping around). I'm ready to settle and he has many of my same values and beliefs. He has no prejudice which I've been looking for in a man and could never find.

He finds me as sexy when I weigh 210 lbs as when I weigh 170. Family is as important to him as it is to me. (As in having children and having time for them instead of work 24 hours a day.

He's cultured and well traveled.
So I should marry him, right?

the negatives are few, but important. The main problem : He IS my Dad. He snaps, yells, and lectures me constantly. He hates that I waste money, I never save. Or if I talk about my weight he yells. He's very short with waiters or drivers or anyone that doesn't agree with him. He gets upset about things I just don't understand. Like I left butter in my bag and it got all over my stuff. He got mad at me. It WASN'T HIS STUFF OR HIS BUTTER or anything. Why was he mad? It has nothing to do with him.

The other negative kinda goes along with it. He LOVES to get me riled up! He’s yell at me when he's not mad just to see me get all worked up. It's not vicious. It's just teasing, but it drives me nuts.

Anyways we both have a lot of projects we're working on. He's working super hard. He says if he successful this year then we will get engaged but if his projects are not successful... he doesn't know.

But we wouldn't get married until at least one year of living in the states. California to be exact. I guess time will tell if this is right. there's so much more good to him than bad. So many positive points. I am ready to settle down, forever.

Anyways, I think I wanna be an Emergency Room Nurse. I'm looking for Nursing Schools in CA. guess I have to learn Spanish (Fuck!!)

Here in the Gambia I have a couple of projects. I am organizing a 2-day Environmental Education Conference. I am also working on a battery drive in 5 different schools. (Collecting batteries to be buried in one mass grave.)

Setting up the syllabus for a "Girl's only Class" and starting a health club after school.

In a near by village I am supposed to find and convince 50 women to attend "Home Ec" classes in the evenings and I must also write the syllabus and teach it.

Plus organize a conference in Farafini and an overnight field trip to the game Reserve.

Plus Abby put my name on some committee for something in a near by village.
He is coming here for the first time Friday. He will spend the night and we will travel together Sat. We are going BACK to Kombo after spending 1 1/2 weeks there!

Oh, I saw "Blown Away" and "Holy Matrimony". They were OK.

We saw this video on Women in Development in the Gambia. The video is Awesome! It shows EVERY ASPECT of village life. I am trying to get a copy to bring home. It has the pounding of rice and the cracking of peanut shells (daily activities 3 times a day!) Farming, praying, Mandinka, everything! I hope I get a copy.

My weight has stayed at 174 all month. Not even all the food at the conference changed it! I want to lose 9 more lbs before July 4.

NEXT MORNING

It's 8 in the morning. I've made some oatmeal for breakfast. (For me and the cats). You would be surprised what a hungry cat will eat (and hungry people too!) My cats eat plain rice, stale bread, and peanut sauce. Of course they prefer fish or meat. Lamin also enjoys shrimp heads but Poopsy doesn’t like them.
I used the last of your Molly McCheese last night for dinner. I bought a garlic press and used it for the first time. I have now learned 2 cloves is 1 clove too many!

I've got 2 doves that live somewhere on or around my roof. Every morning it's the same thing. They fly about both trying to land on the same posts. They knock each other off and head for a different one. One lands and one falls, then off to another one, often colliding in mid air. I thought doves were birds of Peace. Maybe they're just playing or maybe they 're really fighting every day. I don't know.

My boss is coming by today to check out my center. She will spend the night at Abhijit's. Bill won't be here all day (and possibly nite). He's gone to Kuer with Loretta ( a black, limping, crippled bitch.) Ah.. I don't like her if you can guess. And she's one of Abhijit's best friends.

I'm gonna end this letter and send it off with Yami (my boss). In the last couple letters I say I'm gonna call but, I just called my brother for 5 mins. and it cost me 185D. (About 20 bucks). This is scary - I called Robb at my Dad and we talked for 45 mins on my Dad's bill. I think I'm dead for that one. (No he hasn't mentioned the credit union). But I wrote him and told him the financial burden of ME has been passed from him to Abhijit.

Anyways, It's great to hear from you,. Jeff B never wrote once. Make sure you explain your job to me.
Love and kisses,
Jarra Diba



Jan 25, 1995

hey Dad,
I got your letter. Geez. Sounds like I've got a great package on the way. Thanks!

I know you already received the phone bill from Christmas. Robb and I plan on splitting the cost, so let him know how much it is, OK?

So, Uncle Ken has another house? Great. I bet you guys had lots of fun! How's the house in Utah? How's Uncle Ken?

I wear the sandals you sent me, every day. They are the most important thing I have.

I've been a little sick this week. I'm at a conference for the week and we are eating rich American foods. But I've gotten sick and haven't eaten much.

Like I have already written about my summer trip, Abby is probably going to fly me to Greece/Egypt. The money you have saved could be used for Robb. I'm not positive about my plans, we are just beginning to talk about it. We must wait and see how our projects go. One day at a time.

We have had 2 volunteers leave Peace Corps. Lynda - developed breast cancer and Russ - wasn't able to adjust mentally. The nurse flew back to the USA with Russ so I will have to wait until Monday to be checked out.

Lot's of important people have been checking out my center. My boss is coming again this week. I hope I am there to greet her and not here in Kombo sick.

It's time for lunch and then we have to check out of this hotel. Back to hard living!

I sent Robb a package. Ask him about it. I was hoping to send everyone back home one package over the next 1 1/2 years. I have done Robb and Peggy's is almost done. I have already selected some things for you. But don't expect it until around your birthday! :) Abby is really helping me work. He's putting my name on committee lists and motivating me. He is building up full résumé’s for both of us!
Love you,
Wendy



Dad,

Hi Dad! Thank you! I just got some old X-mas card. And I got 2 cards from you. One with $10 & one with $50! Thanks! I definitely need the money. But not for Mali anymore. I don't have any money fro the travel because I'm applying to Law School.

I'm applying to Cleveland State, Case Western and a few others. I want to be a family court judge in our county. And when I graduate from school I want to guy your house. That's my plan. I take the LSAT on October 1. And it's given in Dakar. That will cost me $100 to fly. So that's where the money's going. (Another $150 to take the exam.)

I'm excited though. I just hate waiting. I wish I was going today. It will take a year to take the test, get results and get accepted to school. I hate waiting.

Actually I was wondering if you could send me the name and address of the family court judge and if it's city or county and if it's elected or appointed. I'm going to write him (her).
And I was thinking about something. Now that I know what I'm doing with the next 15 years I feel I should get started. Law school is $17,000 - $20,000 a year. I feel like I should come home and get a full time job this year. I'm not going to law school probably until 1997. I'm not making hardly anything here. Although I enjoy it. And there is no Peace Corps fellowship for law school.

I like Peace Corps but I feel like I'm on extended vacation when I should be home working and saving every penny. Law school plus buying the house is going to take most of my life to save for.
What do you think?
Love Wendy



February 1995

December 1994

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