September 17, 1991

Settling In

Bob --

I'm trying to finish up letters to send with the mail truck scheduled to arrive tomorrow. I had one of my frequent visitors, James, write a few lines that I'll include with this letter. James is probably around 17 or so, and will be starting Form 2 (there are 5 Forms in secondary school) this year. He left his family and village last year to come to the school here. His family sees no value in education, but he was the top student in Form 1 last year. He wants to work for me, but I'll probably end up helping with his school fees either way.

I left yesterday evening to attend a dinner that a missionary family held for we five Peace Corps Volunteers and Tammy's visiting cousin. Rob and Tammy have been here one year. Jeanne and I are settling in. Anyway, we had a meal of cow, corn, beans, cucumber salad, and chocolate cake. Strange meal for Kamakwie. Afterwards, we watched the Jungle Book on VCR. REALLY strange for Kamakwie. It was like being in an American household. It's nice to know, though, that it's there if I ever really need it.

I came home last night to a note that I'll include with this mailing. It is from Abu, my worker who has been an incredible help and I trust implicitly. He has worked the past year for Tammy (and for two other Peace Corps Volunteers before her) so Tammy wanted to include him in a week's vacation to Kabala. He left this morning, and wanted to take care of business with me. Well, in the darkness my tired eyes misread the note. Among other things, I thought he wanted me to buy a bucket for him for 6,600 Leones. I was confused and angry and couldn't get to sleep. Well, I read the letter again this morning with clearer eyes and better interpretation. All he was asking for was money for uniform trousers (which I feel responsible for because I pay his school fees) and 600 Leones (the first "six" is a "Le" which is like our $ sign) for a bucket he wants to sell to me. I felt a lot better. I sent 2000 with him and I'll send up 750 more (for the bucket) with Tammy who will meet him tomorrow.

The other side of this page is song lyrics I wrote down while in training. It was part of my scrap paper/letter writing pile. Hope you enjoy it. The last card you gave me in America with the Gaelic blessing inside hangs on my den door, along with a "K-State!" sticker, a Peace Corps bumper sticker, and a "Mr. Hager" sign. It's slowly starting to feel more like a home.

School still hasn't started yet. There was supposed to be a union - government meeting yesterday, so maybe I'll hear something soon. If things don't start soon (and probably even if they do), I'll join Rob in his latrine-building projects out in the villages. Villages are cool, but communication is difficult. I spent one 24-hour period either blasted or hung over on palm wine last week. I'm trying to get my body acclimated to stuff so I can be accepted in normal social circles. It doesn't taste too bad, and you have to get used to straining insects through your teeth, buts it's STRONG stuff.

I'm enclosing some pictures. More later. Share these at KCRI.

Love, Mark

by The Waterboys

Man gets tired
Spirit don't
Man surrenders
Spirit won't
Man crawls
Spirit flies
Spirit lives when man dies

Man seems
Spirit is
Man dreams
The spirit lives
Man is tethered
Spirit free
What spirit is man can be
What spirit is man can be
What spirit is man can be

What spirit is
The man can be