RPCV in Costa Rica - Dondie Crook a new Peace Corps Volunteer, on her way to Costa Rica. For those grizzled veterans who might have forgotten life as a volunteer, Dondie agreed to send her letters so that we can post her saga as it unfolds.

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Costa Rica: Peace Corps Costa Rica : Peace Corps in Costa Rica: RPCV in Costa Rica - Dondie Crook a new Peace Corps Volunteer, on her way to Costa Rica. For those grizzled veterans who might have forgotten life as a volunteer, Dondie agreed to send her letters so that we can post her saga as it unfolds.

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, June 30, 2001 - 10:40 pm: Edit Post

RPCV in Costa Rica - Dondie Crook a new Peace Corps Volunteer, on her way to Costa Rica. For those grizzled veterans who might have forgotten life as a volunteer, Dondie agreed to send her letters so that we can post her saga as it unfolds.

RPCV in Costa Rica - Dondie Crook a new Peace Corps Volunteer, on her way to Costa Rica. For those grizzled veterans who might have forgotten life as a volunteer, Dondie agreed to send her letters so that we can post her saga as it unfolds.

RPCV in Costa Rica - Dondie Crook a new Peace Corps Volunteer, on her way to Costa Rica. For those grizzled veterans who might have forgotten life as a volunteer, Dondie agreed to send her letters so that we can post her saga as it unfolds.

RPCV in Costa Rica

Editor's note: Dondie Crook is a friend of the Parchers. She is a new Peace Corps Volunteer, on her way to Costa Rica, where the Parchers served many moons ago. For those grizzled veterans who might have forgotten life as a volunteer, Dondie agreed to send us letters so that we can post her saga as it unfolds. This is her first letter, before shipping out.


It's about a week before my training begins with the Peace Corps in San Jose, Costa Rica. If I was able to survive the PC application process and the in-between period before departure, training should be a breeze. All of the waiting and anticipating and then BOOM! I am on my way out of the country for 2 1/2 years.

I do not know exactly where I will be- or the specific details of what I will be doing...but if everyone is correct, it is sure to be an experience of a lifetime. I would like to share some of my adventures that you, former Peace Corps Volunteers, have helped make possible.

I suspect I will have frustrations that cause me to question my being there, and I hope these same frustrations through a changed perspective will remind me exactly why I chose to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer. So aside from the unsorted mound of student loan papers and an unsold car, I am ready to begin "the toughest job, I will ever love." I have no doubt that I will achieve success wherever they place me, because I have the power to laugh at myself. There is an entertaining awkwardness to learning new life skills and some things you just cannot prepare for.

While on an island in Thailand, I saw a sign that read, "More people killed yearly by falling coconuts than by traffic accidents". No amount of education or guidebooks could have equipped me for that. Even my grandmother's loving advice based on 20/20 episodes about American hostage abductions was futile. So bear with me as my interpretation of my life with the Peace Corps will be based on my family of origin upbringing and a limited overseas stay.

I am completely capable of admitting that sometimes the lessons of my previous reality have no validity in a new situation, but I intend to show respect and appreciation for the culture of the people in Costa Rica, even when the understanding does not exist. I will write again, once I have reached the destination of training. Please keep me in your Prayers.

Never Cease Believing in Peace,

Dondie Top of this page

Dondie 1 Dondie 2 Dondie 3 Dondie 4 Dondie 5 Dondie 6 Dondie 7 Main Story page

Send e-mail to Dondie Crook

Back to Top of this page

4 Mar 2000

hola thanks so much. racing against the clock. here's my next entry.

It's become a routine event to receive shots every Friday- the kind of injections with the 12 inch needle and you can feel the liquid traveling through your muscles; and these are the least painful of my training experiences.

Okay, maybe I am being a bit dramatic, but this is not the laid-back, schedule-free Peace Corps environment I had envisioned. Most days are rigidly planned for me from sun-up to sun-down. Don't get me wrong, I realize the necessity of both the language and technical training.

The U.S. Government is paying for me to live and learn in a foreign country- I see the beauty in that- really I do. It's just the projects, papers, and presentations (some in Spanish), all with due dates attached. My brain is constantly fatigued with the language learning and cultural sensitivity processes.

"Por dicha" I have not had any real problems since my arrival almost one month ago. I have been complimented by fellow trainees and Ticos on how "tranquila" I have been. I do feel inner peace, despite the excitement swirling around me.

I did have two shocks within the first two weeks though. I am talking about literal, electrical shocks. I am one of the privileged ones with a coil

editor's note: we called these devices "death rays". They electrically heat the water right as it comes out of the shower head, and make this dreadful boiling noise. Definitely not osha compliant, but its a hot shower. rather than freezing shower water. The catch is the mechanism that heats the water is electrical inside the shower and must be switched on and off while the water is running.

It's not for me to make sense of these things, just to adapt SAFELY to them. Until next time, please let me know of any questions or comments.

Never cease believing in Peace,
Dondie Crook Top of this page

2 May 2000 hey there
i think this one is longer- maybe that means there is more excitement in my life. ha!
hasta luego.

The month of fools is coming to a close taking with it the adventure of the Roller coaster of ups and downs in my world where the confusion has brought exhaustion and occasional elation with a few pats on the back for a job well done or at least survived.

I'm two-thirds of the way finished with training. Time is beginning to disappear very quickly, partially because I am doing more traveling within country. Each journey into "unexplored territory" brings a character building experience. I've exchanged my label of "tranquila" for "valiente", I love Spanish.

Speaking of Spanish, I am improving! I can finally hold a conversation with the vocabulary of a five year old, rather than a blubbering infant. So with my limited language ability, the Peace Corps Powers that Be sent me off to visit another volunteer at her site. These are the same Powers that had scheduled and guided me through meal times and bathroom breaks- but somehow they thought I was equipped to go to the most dangerous part of San Jose ALONE and take a bus. I thought I was doing good to get to the city of destination, but turns out I took the wrong bus company (who knew). So no one was there to meet me when I arrived.

Also, the volunteer I went to visit does not have a telephone- not that I would have been able to call her anyway, because the Nation Wide strikes had shut down all the telephone services.

But... being the valiant, flexible Peace Corps trainee that I am- after two hours of waiting in the bus station (I had been warned about "Tico Time" and thought the volunteer might have assimilated.)- I went to one of the famous Pollo Loco fast- food restaurants for a hamburger. I was going for the comfort food angle, but it turned out to be the most disgusting burger I have ever eaten. It was dripping with some mayonnaise/ ketchup concoction.

So finally after finding the volunteer and spending the weekend in her house with dirt floors, no electricity, and spiders and rodents larger than me- I thought I was on candid camera when my bus back was stopped because of the strikes. A professor with the strikers gave a speech to the passengers about the needs of Costa Rica and the misrepresentation by the media of the people fighting to uphold the country's laws and guarantees. I had a front row seat in witnessing a part of Costa Rica's history develop. I almost didn't mind the THREE HOUR delay.

I also recently tool a less eventful trip to my new site assignment. I will be working in a small barrio (La Paquita) of about 100 houses, near the city of Quepos. About 15 minutes separates this poverty stricken neighborhood from Manuel Antonio- one of the beach hot spots. There is a brand new PANI, Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, Office in Quepos. It is the national children's protective service, and I will be trying to help with its development. One of the issues we will be dealing with is child prostitution. Unfortunately, the combination of tourists and poverty often includes prostitution.

On a lighter topic during a trip to the southern zone, we came across hundreds of tiny monkeys. They were bouncing around from tree to tree. This was a new phenomenon for the ol' Texas girl. When I looked up and saw a monkey's belly directly above my head (arms and legs fully extended), the flight instinct won out. I started screaming and took off running. I made such a scene that the people I was with turned their cameras from the "monos" to me. Never a dull moment. Hasta la proxima vece.

Never cease believing in peace, Dondie C. Crook P.S. Just for added kicks- I got back yesterday from my latest trip to Puerto Viejo on the Carribean Coast. It was beautiful, but my bag was stolen at the bus station before we left San Jose. Of course, I had EVERYTHING in that bag and the bus was ready to go right at the MOMENT I noticed it was gone. I still had a blast- but it was a kick in the stomach. Don't they know "I come in PEACE"?!

Hello Everyone.
This is just a quick note to let you know I will not be using email very often anymore- possibly once a month. So...having said that...please send me your letters. I am here in the Underworld- don't forget about me.

Having a good time and working hard. I get officially sworn in on Thursday. We get to go to the Ambassador's house and everything. Aren't we special. I will be moving to my official placement on Sunday, May 28. You can send mail to the same address for now.

Cuerpo de Paz, apartado 1266, 1000 San Jose, Costa Rica.
For those of you less inclined to write, you can call me at 011 506 777
2225. Hope to hear from everyone one way or the other. I will also be sending info to the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer in the Austin area webpage for those of you interested. I will try to send the website address after this message. Having computer problems..
peace, love, and happiness,

6 June 2000 Hey guys,

I am finally finished with training

I am feeling much more positively about life than this entry reflected. Every moment is a rolle rcoaster and I am not sure if the turn will be right side up or upside down. Hope your end of the universe is treating you well.Do the Friends of Costa Rica receive the newsletter from the Costa Rican volunteers? If they don't would they be interested in it? If they are interested, could they finance it? Please let me know if you can find anything out about that.

Journal #4
Okay, that was fun- now I am ready to go home...

The wonderful thing is that training is over. I received "outstanding" evaluations for my relationship and cultural adaptation skills. I, of course, agree that I performed outstandingly- but truely do not know how accurate the evaluation system was.

I am an official volunteer!!!!!!
We got to have our ceremony in the Ambassador's house and everything. Really, most sarcasm aside, the ceremony was beautiful. It was a very proud moment of my life- a formal acknowledgement of my dreams AND hard work. I felt like a woman and cried like a baby.

Yesterday was my first full day in my site of assignment. The reality of what I am here to do knocked me right upside the head. The misty fantasy of being an agent of peace to create the perfect utopia in a small part of the world- crashed face first with- the harsh reality of living in a completely unfamiliar ghetto for TWO YEARS. I was ready to frame the certificate and cut my losses. There is a river at the end of my pebbled road (tough life huh?)- so I went and cried a river, looking for reminders of why I chose this path.

My host mother tried to be supportive and sincerely told me she thought I should have psychologically prepared myself BEFORE arriving here.
Silly me,
I was dealing with the current pressures of leaving all my loved ones, training, and learning another language in another country in a government agency- must have slipped my mind. I did not want advice. I just wanted it validated that this is difficult stuff- even (especially) just the living part. I would have liked her to tell me I didn't have to save the world today. So I told myself, "In fact, take the week off."

Until next time-

Take Breaks and Never cease believing in Peace, dondie

RPCV in Costa Rica
hey there. i can't believe how the time drags on and on with wings and then it's gone. i had my first project- so to speak, and here's the write up i did for the volunteer magazine. i am doing well. with normal ups and downs. the second person from our group of 13 has decided to leave. i know it's not for everyone, still haven't completely decided that it's for me, but it puts a heavy weight on those of us still here. other than that having fun and learning a lot. how's life in austin?
journal entry #5:
I am learning to juggle and the daily rains of Costa Rica are usually accompanied by sunshine. Not a very profound statement after 7 months in a foreign country, but it is a summary- both literally and mostly figuratively.

Here are some reflections of my experience thus far...

During my training in Los Guido, Costa Rica, there was a mission group that passed through. I didn't go out of my way to meet (or help) them, because I was here to live (not just visit) and I was living here to meet Costa Ricans (not visiting-Americans). I mocked their short stay adn fruitless efforts. I questioned what good if any they thought they were doing by giving away a few eyeglasses made from pipecleaners and necklaces made from macaroni. How very noble of them, I thought, to distribute some cheesey stuff into these people's lives and then return to their own plush American lifestyle.

Whereas I, the Peace Corps Volunteer (dun tun da duunn!)I was going to make some REAL social changes.

Well, three months into my official services as a volunteer, and I have completed "my" first big project of social change. The big project was a parade through my barrio in honor of the Day of the Child. The three pebbled streets and one paved highway of Paquita, Costa Rica felt the footsteps of over 200 children and 50 adults marching. The famous Peace Corps Clown Troupe armed with candy, whistles, coloring books, and balloons, provided entertainment for the kids' special day. The school band pounded out their beats, as the "picket" signs demanding the observation of Children's Rights and over 300 balloons danced in the arms of the "rallying" children.

All that is true (even if a bit dramatized), but in reality all I did was distribute some cheesey stuff into a few children's lives. I continue to wear my Peace Corps Badge as a source of arrogance, but I feel badly for, rather than think badly of that group of Americans I snubbed several months ago. They made a greater sacrifice than I had given them credit for by passing through and not telling themselves or snyone else that they were there to save the world (or one barrio in Costa Rica, for that matter).

Those church kids didn't get to stick arund to see the children CHOOSE to wear the macaroni necklaces again, nor were they able to joke with the parents about the day they were given out. I wasn't able to recognize the importance of the actions of teh mission group until now. If given the opportunity, I would tell those visit-Americans (who are now enjoying hot showers daily) that their efforts weren't fruitless, and that I think the cheesey stuff they distributed represented to a few kids that someone outside the world of their barrio gave a damn, even if for one day. (or two years, it's all relative).

never cease believing in peace.

This is the 6th story from Dondie.

i make the choice to stay in the peace corps every morning and usually every night- as i'm processing the trials or blessings of the preceding day, but i faced the most difficult choice the morning that i chose to return to the peace corps after visiting in the states for the holidays.

i think there is a misconception that people who join the peace corps are all doing so to avoid what some would call the american "real world", and there is an equally false idea that those who leave the peace corps early couldn't survive life abroad. it's a completely different set of rules when you travel to visit, rather than when you travel to live. it holds a sense of an extended temporary existence, while the lives of those you care about carry on, whether you are there physically or not. and just as two years holds a lifetime of lessons and adventures in the peace corps- so do two years in the lives of loved ones in america. as i share in the birthdays, the weddings, and the daily stresses of the people of my community- the pregnancies, the deaths, and the momentary joys of my family and friends in the states continue to happen, without me.

the culture, the food, and the language- those are just details to life. as human beings, we are flexible and adaptable by nature. it may seem unsettling not to belong, but i can tell you that belonging in more than one world holds its own challenges. a goal of the peace corps is that the volunteers serve as cultural liaisons or human bridges. which is an ideal i truly believe in, but a bridge must hold steady with only two points of its grand structure touching solid ground- and the rest is held in the air somewhere in between.

on this the seventh night of being back in my home of costa rica, i have finally found a comfortable balance. tonight my thoughts are not strictly of my longing to be in the states, but they are JOINED with a desire to be exactly where i am... somewhere in between.

never cease believing in peace.

with love from a soul that is not lost, just searching.

This is the 7th story from Dondie.

buenos dias, buenas tardes, and all that jazz. i have been here a year!!!!!

i spent hours upon hours until my shoulders were solid knots of tension trying to write a journal entry talking about my current situation. not wanting to be too negative, but not wanting to sugar coat it either. then i got a letter from someone who summed up my feelings perfectly and added some clarifying insight. thanks mom! never cease believing in peace.

Hi Dondie,

Your last letter was very interesting- I'm trying to look at it that way. (You know there is a part of me exclaiming- Oh Lord! Somebody help my baby!) I hope the crack addict doesn't start selling off your stuff. He probably sold his bicycle for crack. I've seen that on "Cops".

About the glimpses into life's dark side (that you wrote about)- Is this behavior that's always been there or is it a fine American export. The American money comes down there because the native people are more lenient about vices (drugs, prostitution). But those people are just trying to get money however so they can eat- not more lenient, more desperate. The first wave of our culture is often a lot of people that just get in there to exploit the natural resources and that includes the men, women, and children. You should concentrate on the little ones under eleven. You will plant seeds of thoughts for better ways to make a living. Maybe something you say to the children will keep one of one hundred from being a prostitute or drug addict. You'll never see the results but it can make a difference. And what is the difference? What is one out of one hundred? It is a world of difference to that one and that matters.

I hope you will finish the tour of duty with the corps. It's probably just anniversary anxiety- I've been here a year what have i accomplished? kind of thinking.

Maybe you've heard this-

A woman is crying, complaining, and praying to God- Look at all the poverty, despair and decay in the world. How can you let this happen? Why don't you do something about all this trouble in the world? God answers- I did. I told you.

Love, Mom

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 - Costa Rica; PCVs in the Field - Costa Rica; Stories



By Anonymous (wsip-68-98-202-112.ks.ok.cox.net - on Monday, October 09, 2006 - 11:36 am: Edit Post

awww look at the little baby

1 dondie 2 dondie red dondie blue dondie

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.