act three draws to a close, leaving our hero feeling like maybe this is just going to be what life as he knows it… is going to be.
act four: in which the whole “when i say we” shtick is retired, masha gets itself a little pussy, a couple of 69ers find themselves in a very uncomfortable position, and our hero finally finds his heroin.
heroine! i meant heroine. our hero finally finds his heroine.
yikes… that was awkward.
isn’t it always the way?
you think of the perfect joke five minutes too late?
yeah, so after long deliberation on what to call the 69 volunteers of peace corps ethiopia G5, deanna’s giving me all the latest gossip about who’s doing who these days, and i was so blown away by how much fooling around our group is doing that it dawned on me…
we gotta be the 69ers.
oh, and uh, katie questions ETed.
the 68ers just doesn’t have that same zing.
but hey, at least the wheels of the peace corps death pool (figure of speech) are turning.
a week later, number two fell…
and it was deanna’s best friend.
then we lost numbers 3 through 8 all at once…
and they were people that i really didn’t want to see go home.
when i heard how five volunteers ended up on the same plane back to the states, well…
i sort of just stared into infinite space for a minute and said…
flashback to atlanta, GA, may 23, 2011
it was just a few days ago someone pointed out that i talk a lot of shit about the peace corps on this blog.
so i did something about it.
peace corps made me remove a tooth, boohoo.
peace corps made me change my signature, boohoo.
peace corps screwed up my medical clearance, boohoo.
i pulled it all down, flew to atlanta, and started fresh.
fresh start solves all problems, right?
well, i thought so, too.
i strolled into the all-night diner at a time that made that qualifier irrelevant… nevertheless, it was early enough that there were only two other people in the place. i onced them over briefly, and a sneaking suspicion was planted.
i sat down, opened my amharic text book, and furrowed my brow over this new, vast alphabet (actually, it’s a syllabary) i would soon have to know by heart.
the slow smile of a shared secret enlightenment grew on the pixie-ish face of the woman at the other table, the man turned to look me over quickly, shot a smile at the woman, and she asked…
you’re… not by any chance… going to ethiopia with the peace corps tomorrow?
yes i am.
us too! come on over.
if you know where to look, it’s not hard to spot peace corps.
are they tastefully dressed when they’re sitting in a diner with their hands in their lap?
are they happy to talk to strangers?
when they reach out to shake your hand do their rolled up sleeves reveal an unusual amount of mismatched bracelets?
when you get up to leave do their shoes look way too comfortable, and perhaps even stylish, to pass as business casual?
are there noticeable tattoos on this person?
you just might have peace corps on your hands.
the three of us had peace corps written all over us.
say hello to jill and andy.
andy and jill are a young married couple in G5 ethiopia.
they would be my first peace corps friends.
over the next weeks, they would inadvertently convince me that jenny and i had not made a mistake by pursuing the road less traveled by most couples.
they would start the legend of “one bag dave”.
they would spearhead many of the antics that gave G5 its personality.
they would be the fulcrum on which my frustration and aggravation with the peace corps administrative process would turn…
desi, ethiopia, halloween 2011
it was just a few days ago i pointed out that i don’t talk (much) shit about the peace corps on this blog.
let’s do something about that, shall we?
tell me, what do you think of when i say the term “american embassy”?
i’ve been kidnapped by mexican drug dealers! call the american embassy!
i was in bangkok, and i screwed up big. call the american embassy!
i didn’t know i was in north korea. the border is vague. call the american embassy!
american embassy solves all problems, right?
well, i thought so, too.
five PCVs were strolling out of the bar in costumes that made their genders irrelevant… nevertheless. it was late enough that there weren’t many people out. a few of those that were onced over these PCVs briefly, and a sinister idea was planted.
they moved through the streets, and a ferenji became separated from the group.
the details of the events that would unfold at this point, i can only imagine, if i were so inclined to imagine such horrible things happening to a friend.
if you’re looking for a little late night sex criming, it’s not hard to spot a potential victim.
is she effeminately dressed and out alone late at night?
is she happy to talk to strangers?
when you get aggressive, does her gait reveal a trace amount of rising apprehension?
when you seize upon her does she feel a little bit stronger, and perhaps even masculine, than you thought she would?
are there unmistakable body parts that you didn’t expect?
you just might have an international incident on your hands.
this had international incident written all over it.
say goodbye to andy and jill.
jill and andy are headed back to the states because andy thought it would be harmless to dress as an ethiopian woman for halloween, and a group of habesha men thought they had found a nice little piece of candy.
andy and jill are going home because the american embassy and peace corps did not have their back in this tragedy (luckily, andy was able to escape the situation before the point of no return).
meeting andy and jill turned my frustration and aggravation with peace corps into nothing more than a bad memory buried under the mountains of good memories that G5 would provide.
losing andy and jill has unburied that frustration and aggravation.
andy was the victim of a crime, and he was asked to leave (of course jill would go with him, without question). billy and sarah were simply witnesses, and they were asked to leave. a member of G3 was also a witness, and she had but two weeks left before she could legitimately draw her service to a close, peace corps asked her to ET (think of it as the difference between honorable and dishonorable discharge).
peace corps lost five amazing volunteers because they wouldn’t go to bat for them in a time of need.
the wheels of the peace corps death pool turned ever onward, in sync with the wheels of the great peace corps bureaucratic machine.
this would be the fulcrum on which my frustration and aggravation with the peace corps administrative process would turn once more…
* * * *
stay tuned for our next episode:
when life gives you lemons, order yourself a corona.
couldn’t have said it better myself:
where, then, was the line crossed? when speaking of culture sharing, where does one slip from honest exposure to disrespect? for some in the office and the US embassy, the concept of a cross-dressing costume borders on the audacious or naïve stupidity. yet when surrounded by a fidel castro, ninja turtles (with shells and masks), and an abercrombe kid, it feels more genuine – brendan boland (G5), cherry street beat