February 19, 2003: Headlines: COS - Gabon: PCVs in the Field - Gabon: Personal Web Site: I have indeed arrived in paradise...Gabon is a beautiful country

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Gabon: Peace Corps Gabon : The Peace Corps in Gabon: February 19, 2003: Headlines: COS - Gabon: PCVs in the Field - Gabon: Personal Web Site: I have indeed arrived in paradise...Gabon is a beautiful country

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-239-147.balt.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 8:30 pm: Edit Post

I have indeed arrived in paradise...Gabon is a beautiful country

I have indeed arrived in paradise...Gabon is a beautiful country

January 23, 1999

I have indeed arrived in paradise...Gabon is a beautiful country. I convinced a PC staff member to let me use his computer so I have to write fast. I don't know if I will have email available later but go ahead and send any replies to the Ketharsis@hotmail.com address, I think this guy will let me use the computer whenever I want during training. And when training is over I think that I will be living in Libreville and can access the email anytime, but that probably won't happen until training is over in about ten weeks and I'm not going to get my hopes up too much. The telephone system sucks and with rare exceptions I don't think that it's going to be very much of an option. And if it does, you'll have to call me since calling out of Gabon costs $10 per minute.

Well, we've been in-country for three days now and I am completely overwhelmed. I don't even know where to begin. The flights from DC were long, boring and cramped. The first thing I noticed when we got off the plane was how hot and muggy it was, totally oppressive but something that I know I'll get use to. The Gabonese people are extremely friendly, which I thought might be the case considering the experiences I have had with the Africans in Zambia and Zimbabwe. We are living in a two story training house in Libreville with AC, hot water and lights so I don't have too much to complain about. Two weeks from now we are all moving to a place up North called Coco Beach for three weks where we will begin our individual home-stays with local villages and learn how to build the schools and teacher housing we came to do.

Yesterday we took a Land Cruiser to a beach called Cape Santa Clara north of town, you would not believe how beautiful it was....endless ribbons of pure white sand, pure warm water, palm and mango trees arching towards the sky. We swam and climbed coconut trees, opened them up by banging them against driftwood. What an experience! Like I already said, it is very hot and muggy here despite the fact that it rains two or three times a day. And the rain drops out of the sky in buckets, far more intense than the worst monsoon I've ever seen in Arizona. The Peace Corps people really have their shit together as far as providing us with the language/cultural/health training that we will need so I feel good about that.

Believe it or not but the limited French that I do know has been very handy and I am picking up more with each day. Some of us ate dinner at a roadside vendors stand and drank beer at a tiny little neighborhood bar and we did everything in French. The Africans got a kick out of that because we were murdering the language. Libreville itself is a large city spead across low rolling hills covered with jungle; lots of palm, banana and mango trees. The larger buildings/hotels are all located on the beach.

Thus far, I like all of the eight guys in our group and we seem to get along just fine, but then again, we haven't exactly been stressed out yet. We start training full time on Monday and will have classes eight hours a day, should be fun. The university students have been protesting against President Omar Bongo and some interesting things happened our first day in-country...I'll tell you more about that later (things like burning cars, tear gas, small arms fire), but don't worry, we're all very safe. Did I mention that the University is located literally in the training center's back yard.

I'll write/email as much as I can, but we're going to be pretty damn busy now...and I won't be able to access anything once we move to Coco Beach February 1st. But like I said, feel free to send an email reply, I think I'll have regular access once I get to know the PC staff better...right now we're the new kids on the block. And since I am serving in the capacity of Architect I might be working in this building (if I do live in Libreville) and will have access whenever I want. Keep your fingers crossed. Well, my time seems to be up now, it goes without saying that I miss all of you tremendously. I hope that all is well. Don't worry about me, I can already tell that everything will be just fine. After all, I'm in paradise!

January 18, 1999
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Such are the elegant, albeit simplistic, words of encouragement from an influential Eastern philosopher whom the Peace Corps deemed appropriate to include on one of the multitudes of documents sent my way in the past few months. Those words ring true, so very true, except that right now I feel as if I've already run a marathon and have yet to even step foot in Africa to begin my Volunteer training. For several weeks my life has been consumed with the necessary physical and emotional preparations to begin my journey; I relinquished the lease on my apartment, moved out of the city I love, resigned from my job, organized an endless array of errands and affairs, said goodbye to my friends and family and struggled with the thoughts and consequences of leaving the woman I love. I think I should be an emotional train wreck but, to my surprise, I am not. My eyes are set squarely on the horizon even though I can't quite see it yet. I'm sure that I will feel different when the fog in my mind clears and reality finds a home. In just a few short hours I will take the biggest step thus far and board a plane bound for Washington D.C., where our preliminary staging event will take place tomorrow (1/19) before flying to Zurich and on to Gabon the following day. I am focused on the days ahead but feel a peculiar edgy trepidation which might have something to do with the six cups of coffee I drank to keep myself up last night while packing and making last minute arrangements. There is never enough time! Imagine assembling everything that you think you might need for the next two years and trying to pack it all in two bags not to exceed 80 pounds and 117 linear inches total. Not an easy task to accomplish by any means but not impossible. Needless to say (for those who know me), a great deal of my space is dedicated to music, select books and drawing media. I figure I'll get everything else in Gabon. I know that I will miss my life in America dearly, particularly the outstanding people I surrounded myself with...please make the time to write. Fortunately, I have had the good grace to talk to several returned Peace Corps volunteers who served in Gabon and whom allayed many of my concerns. They've all said that I am moving to paradise and, most important, that I will come back a better man. I hope these words ring true.

When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Gabon; PCVs in the Field - Gabon



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.