DATED: November something, 2002ish.

Tiene mi bella region, algo tierno que me encanta; tras de sus verdes montañas, el bello sol se levanta. El bello sol se levanta!

Saludo compay!!!
Como está la comay?

For most of you, you haven't heard from me in over three months. For a couple people, not since my freshman year of high school back in foggy distant Mendocino, California. You might have wondered "So whatever became of that crazy Molly character?" And then "Why hasn't she contacted me in over nine years?". To which I would beg forgiveness for my grossly wicked and reprehensible lack of communication, and perhaps intimate something about how life has a way of happening between the points of Then and Now. Not that, with that, I expect to be at all forgiven, mind you.

A brief synopsis of my life since 9th grade:

I moved to Boulder Colorado with my mom, and two cats who insisted in vomitting in the back seat the whole way there. I got a little blue bird for my 15th birthday, I got really good at beadwork, and I finally got some social skills. But I must have been desperately unhappy being a teenager in that megalopolis, because I blocked most of those three years out of my memory. Perhaps it was all that indifference and introspection and letting in of the darkness. I graduated from Boulder High School in 1997 --in all actuality not as long ago as it feels.

I matriculated into Colorado State University in Fort Collins in the fall of that same year, with the pretense of studying Preveterinary Biomedical Sciences. Changing my major to Zoology, and then to Biology, and then adding Studio Art (Metalsmithing and Jewelry), and then adding a third concurrent major of Foreign Languages (Spanish with German)... I was actually taking just about every introductory level class at CSU, unable to narrow down all the things I was interested in studying for the mere purpose of "specializing" in something "useful" and earning a "degree".

College was more of a socialization and experimentalism project than anything else. I discovered all sorts of frightfully crazy things about myself, made all sorts of wonderfully crazy friends, and filled my brain with all sorts of delightfully crazy thoughts. I met a most completely kindred creature the semester before I studied abroad in Mexico, and spent the summer of 2000 on an emotional ferris wheel, from the top of which I could see cloud shadows, and other pathetically corny metaphors, which at the time, seemed perfectly appropriate. And it must have been around then when I invited the rocks and soil in for some mad double-digging of the psyche.

I spent half a year in Cholula, Puebla, at la Universidad de las Américas. Studied ecology, ethnology, and sculpture among other thingz, and travelled around southern Mexico during my breaks. There are some beautiful photos that were butchered down into jpgs at (Sorry, defunct.) check it.

So I finally graduated from CSU this May, earning a B.A. in Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures with a concentration in Spanish and a secondary concentration in German. I barely got my graduation requirements taken care of, for although I had about a hundred more credits than I needed to graduate, I was lacking some upper-division credits. Fortunately, the Honors Program helped me out by letting me put together a book as an "Honors Thesis" for two UD credits. Good joss. So after escaping the academic universe with my precious piece of paper, I decided to go backpacking through Western Europe. You are rolling your eyes at my originality... but it was new to me. I met my relatives in Germany for the first time, met a young man in France and then later rendezvoused in Switzerland and travelled down into Italy. I let in the wind and ran off through southern France to north-eastern Spain in homage to Dalí, made my way over to visit a friend in Madrid, and just lived day by day with no itinerary. I shot over from Donostia, Spain to München, Germany in one night to spend a week camping out and taking in more of all things Deutsch. I wandered back to England to fly back to Colorado, and then went to California for a while.

Ah yes, and I joined the Peace Corps. They sent me an invitation to go teach English in Russia, which I accepted immediately and got my passport and visa in order while abroad. I had been studying Russian for over a year, and was so excited to be going to one of my first choice countries. But then, sadly, Russia cancelled the Peace Corps visas issued and asked PC to leave the country. So only a few weeks before I was originally scheduled to fly out to Russia, they started trying to find me a new placement... looking through all the 'stans and the Slavic countries. My French wasn't good enough to teach English in Africa. I mentioned that I had a Spanish degree, but they said there were no English teaching assignments to any Spanish speaking countries. And then I mentioned that I had other skills and interests, and the first thing I thought to mention was working with Sustainable Development at CSU for five years. So right there and then over the phone the Peace Corps went through a database and said, "ummm... oh, er... how does an agroforestry extension to the Dominican Republic sound?" I told them to go ahead and send me the invitation in the mail and to consider it accepted. Which is how I come to be living on an island in the Caribbean and working on a Community Sustainable Agriculture project.

I just finished three months of culture, language, and technical skills training in Santo Domingo and La Rancha. I can now confidently wrestle goats to the ground and inject vitamens in their thighs, I can deworm a screaming pig, I can vaccinate thousands of chickens in a single day. I can cook up a fine locrio with batata, squash, and yucca leaves. I can put together and maintain a worm bin, utilize native medicinal plants, and plant a home conuco. I can bathe sheep with a bomba sprayer, sharpen my machete myself, and make organic pesticides out of nime seeds. I have mastered public transportation, feel comfortable on a motorcycle, and know how to purchase things from a colmado. A person could get used to bathing in pools under waterfalls, eating tropical fruits every day, and being surrounded by fascinating flora and insecta. Yes, yes they could. Perhaps I could also get used to men blowing me kisses from the street and yelling out how beautiful I am. Just being white makes me a movie star. Interestingly, the PC has the highest rate of marriage between PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers) and HCNs (Host Country Nationals) here in the DR. I may or may not be dating my doña's mother's youngest son, who is, by the way, a most beautiful HCN.

That pretty much brings you up to Molly's present moment, sitting here typing you from the PCO, listening to Sublime ilusión (thanks again Nick). I was inaugurated last Friday, met the American ambassador to the DR, armed with my beeper and my dog tags and my box key and my bank account and my ATM card. I can already tell how representing the United States government has changed my behaviour, starting with the way I carelessly toss around TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms). Just another CUA.

Well, I think I'm going to go for a cold one at a colmado somewhere. (This is the most absolutely posh country in the PC). Please write back and tell me what sort of crazy you have gotten yourselves into. I will try to be better about writing you individual email. If you would like to send me airmail, please direct it to:

Cuerpo de Paz
APDO 1412
Santo Domingo
Dominican Republic

I will be living for the next two years in El Pinar, 8 clicks outside of San José de Ocoa. When I figure out an address, I'll pass that along too. Por lo menos escríbanme. I would like to keep contact with everyone in one form or another. Can't wait to hear from you!

Much love,