I hoped that my first vacation, as a Peace Corps Ethiopia volunteer, would have been spent visiting my old site, in Kenya.
I spent pre-service training learning how to knit. I still do it, but only while I’m serving as a volunteer.
I swore in as a Peace Corps volunteer, early 1987. More than thirty years later, I’m still in contact with my cohort. Thank you, social media!
My site was a 5k walk from the nearest town. At site, I could buy Coke and Fanta, bananas, and fried bread.
I was fortunate enough to have dropped twenty-five pounds, during Pre Service Training. Medical decided that I had to weigh in, every month, in Nairobi. Darn!
I was the first volunteer at my school. Back then, the goal was to place five consecutive volunteers, at a site. After ten years, the school would be ready to be taken over by the government.
When I arrived, the parents had started building the school. I was the only teacher living on the compound. There were five of us, on staff. The school had a Head Master, Assistant Head Master, two local teachers, and a Peace Corps volunteer.
The school hired a local man to watch over me, at night. Every night, he would call out “Mole” and I would answer back the same. One day, a student asked me why I kept calling out the man’s name. Who knew Mole wasn’t hello, in the local language?
Some of my students walked for miles to reach school. I remember sitting with the boys, outside my house, and eating sugarcane, for like an hour. One can get quite the buzz.
My closest volunteer was 10k, over “that” hill. I walked there once (and only once). My mouth was so dry that I could barely drink the Fanta I purchased, after reaching level ground.
No electricity or running water … no phones or computers … no nearby neighbors … and I loved it. This last photo is of the final hill, before my site. I had to stop each and every time I reached it. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was or how lucky I was.
Perhaps, it’s OK that I’m not allowed to return. –GGT