Wednesday, July 31, 2002

No title, just lots of exclamation points

On Wed, 2002-07-31 at 11:23, Aisha Bain wrote:
How you doin love? Give me the 411 on you!

i've just been studying for the foreign service exam at the moment, hoping they'll take me cause the word on the street is that they're desparate for people to go to Thrid World countries--HELLO! ME! ME! PICK ME! SO we'll see, you know government process--it ain't a short one! After I take both exams (yes there is a separate exam for those of us who have PC experience--just ain't gonna tell them is was only 6 months!! shhhhhhhhhh!)

Then i'll apply to school--gotta have me some options, so by this time next year, I'll be in enrolled or on my way out of the country...we shall see. In the mean time I need to get me a J O B !*##&%&($*&($%@ --need some greenbacks--I haven't quite figured out that plan of action yet--my brilliance is limited! I'm working at the moment, but this is not a permenant thing. I don't want to do some menial job for a YEAR, so I'm on the hunt right after this exam. Is there a section in the want-ads for washed out volunteers? Riiiiiight!

Baltimore's aiight! Ain't gonna shed a tear when I leave, but oh yeah--my housing's free--BALTIMORE"S GREAT! I'm ready to go though, I read my friend's email from South Africa and I'm completely ready to hop on a plane and join her! Just when you think you have it all figured out....something always comes to shake it up (I prefer it stirred...blended...on the rocks..straight up...ok I like it all.). That email just made me want to jump right back into PC!! And then Madagascar is REOPENED!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!!! I don't even know how to feel about that!!!

I guess I'm doing what we're all doing, trying to get my life in order, and all in all I'm doing well.

Ah this thing we call life, I'm ready for the next adventure.

All the best to you. love, peace, and happiness,talk to you soon,
be good....hmmmmmm, on second thought.......

Thursday, June 13, 2002

I'm ALIVE!!! I swear!

I’m alive and kicking—promise. It’s been TOO long, please forgive me.
Where to start???

I left off in Egypt, and I was sorry to go. In Luxor, ancient Thebes, we saw the Temple of Karnak, the largest temple in Egypt, built for the god of Amun Ra (Amun), the God of Gods. Built over 2000 years, it is one of the most amazing things I’ll ever see. The sun beat down on us as we entered this enormous structure through a walkway of sphinxes with the head of a ram, a symbol of the god Amun. The genius and ingenuity of a people to built something this magnificent so long ago made me want to be Egyptian. So great was their knowledge, they constructed rooms in which sunlight entered at a certain angle only once a year to illuminate a scared statue on that day of worship! Since only priests were allowed to enter the actual temples, the people would remain outside, when the time was right the sun would fall upon a statue of gold for all to see.

King Rameses II, one of the most famous kings and well known for his 200 wives and over 150 children (the Egyptian men seem to love telling that story over and over). He built this magnificent hall of 134 massive columns, carved into the walls and columns are hieroglyphics and scenes of Rameses life, wars, and worshiping Amun. The deepness of these carvings creates such a dramatic effect of sunlight and shadow, I was mesmerized, my eyes locked upon beautiful images that I longed to know more about.

Our guide was amazing and read hieroglyphics for us, telling us the stories of these ancient kings and queens, yes these people way back then had women rulers—now I KNOW I should have been Egyptian! ;) They are still excavating all of these sites, the temples, the tombs, the pyramids, and they are still discovering artifacts and history. Amazing pieces of history unfolded themselves before us, Queen Hatshepsut built some incredible additions to the temple, one being the second tallest obelisk in the world, anyway she killed the mother of King Tuthmosis III when he was just a boy. Thus, in vengeance and hate, he had her name and image chiseled off of every stone she carved it on. Yet just two months ago they uncovered tiny statues of Queen Hatshepsut that she had hidden behind larger ones, point scored for the queen. This place was so fascinating, I couldn’t stop rattling off questions to our guide as we walked back in time, the original paint still preserved, the original statues standing in all their glory. Simply beautiful.

I’d love to take a course in Egyptian history and hieroglyphics! By night we visited the Temple of Luxor, lit up by lights from the ground and a full moon—magic, it was too mystical to be real. The next day we bore the suffocating heat of the desert to head to the Valley of the King and Queens. We crossed the Nile and headed towards the mountains, on our side, the hidden tombs dug meters into the ground. On the other side, the raw desert, 400 kilometers of quicksand, the cities’ natural defense, the Bedouins, the people of the desert know how to traverse it, and beyond it, miles and miles of desert leading to Libya.

We didn’t see all that.

We stayed on the habitable side of the mountain, drove past a small town on the edge of the Valley of the Queens, a village of a couple thousand people, miners of alabaster for making tourist goods. Back in the day, after the ancient priests discovered that it was just a little too easy to find and loot a tomb if you build a large eye-catching pyramid on it, they decided to build tombs in the desert. Slaves would start building in a secret location and begin building the tomb as soon as the king came into power. To keep the location a secret, once the tomb was sealed the builders were either killed, or their tongues were cut off, however, the problem remained that the priests still knew the locations, and many of the tombs were raided anyway. To prevent this a group of priests decided to secretly remove all of the mummies to a safe location. Archeologists found the 89 mummies but only 55 or 56 (don’t quote me on the numbers) of the tombs have been recovered to this day, the government believes that the rest of the tombs must be hidden underneath this small, poor mining village. The people, naturally, would not give up their home, so the government has since cut off their running water for something like 2 years and is now threatening to cut off their electricity—yes things like this STILL go on in the year 2002.

The tombs were remarkable, the original paintings intact telling to stories of their gods and chapters from the Book of the Dead—I love this stuff! The valley itself is amazing, you literally walk right through the desert and there are holes in the ground everywhere carved right into the mountainside and through the sands. Nearby is Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple, no longer remembered for its beauty, but for being the site where 60 tourists were shoot down in 1996 by 2 or 4 (can’t remember) radical gunmen dressed as police hoping to harm Egypt’s tourist industry. We entered the area where the gunmen trapped the tourists, and though they had covered up the bullet holes, an eeriness remained.

We arrived at the Valley of the Kings, even more spectacular, as we happily walked down into the ground (away from the stifling sun), past bobby traps of fall away bridges that dropped a potential robber 30 ft into a well of acid, and other cool stuff like that. The day ended with a faluka ride (sailboat) at sunset on the Nile with 3 Egyptian men manning the boat, and with my girlfriend FLASHING (yes I said flashing) a big boat of tourists who were taking pictures of our cute little boat. Laughs for all.

Then it was up to Cairo, our last day. The girls were tired but I couldn’t rest, so off I went on my own to the market. It’s truly amazing how much MORE a woman gets harassed by herself—
“You walk like an Egyptian,” said random man.
“Really?” asks innocent me.
“Yes you walk like a camel, it’s very sexy! HAHAHAHAHAHA!” laughs random
After the TENTH TIME HEARING THAT—it’s really not so cute!
“If you married me you would be my ONLY wife, I swear it,” says another
random man.
How romantic!
“50,000 camels for you!” yells yet another random.
“It’s not enough!” I yell back, though I hardly know what I’d do with so
many camels!
Then there were all the guys who just wanted to put kohl (eyeliner) around my eyes, you see I brought NO makeup to Peace Corps—but I ended up being the ONLY one—go figure! SO anyway, after awhile I just gave in, and that was fun, sat down for tea with some very nice merchants, several funny comments about my size, made some friends—it was all in good fun.

Then we had a 5:00 am flight to Milan! My flight attendant was one of the most beautiful men I’ve EVER seen—yummy! (sorry Madagascar was a L O N E L Y place!) Actually we only had a layover, my flight was to…well…

Well….SURPRISE! I’m home! :)
I decided to surprise my mother and keep emailing her and telling her I was all over the place and wouldn’t be home till mid July or so. Then I had set up a time that I’d call her that night so I knew she’d be home (after all I ain’t got no key), then I just showed up and knocked on the door. She opened it, said hi to me, then literally did a double take, took a step back, her jaw dropped, and she couldn’t say a word! Classic! It was so cute! Then she was NOT so cute by yelling at me for being home cause she didn’t put any curtains in my room and she wanted to have a party, blah, blah, blah—such a mom!


I can’t wait to see and talk to you, please DO NOT just say “So tell me about it!” There will be an information overload in my little head and I’ll just look at you or the phone with a blank stare!! There’s TONS of film for anybody how’s got a couple of days to spare and I really can’t wait to hear what’s been going on with you.

In my evacuation madness, my address book was lost so PLEASE send me your number!
You can reach me at (XXX) XXX-XXXX.
I’d love to come see all of you but I’m dirt poor and got home on my last
dime---hmmm, there’s just something about working for free??? I can’t put
my finger on it yet….

Next step for me? Well maybe you’ll be happy to know that I shall be
staying in the country for a little while—off to get my masters. Tons to do
so I can try to get in spring semester, but my first priority is to the
DOCTOR—if I don’t kill these amebas I think they’re gonna kill ME!
It’s so crazy being home, I can’t even tell you, but I hope to talk to you

All my love and the LAST mass email—YEA!

Friday, May 24, 2002


Tis been a while since we last talked, and I now find myself in Egypt!

It is amazing, beautiful, wondorous, mysterious, and unbelievable!
First off, before some of you gasp for breath, this place is safer than Baltimore! I can rome the streets at 4:00 in the morning without fear!! The people here are kind, welcoming, beyond helpful, and have a great sense of humor--I feel right at home! Egyptians are so beautiful in every sense of the word as is their language, the only danger I am in is staying here forever--and even then it would be paradise!

Myself and two girlfriends left Kenya, had a SURPRISE (and I mean surprise) layover in Sudan (yikes! civil war! run away, run away!), and then off to Cairo landing at 12:30 a.m. Again gardians were watching out for us, a man sitting right in front of us, smiled and said "Welcome to Egypt." He then took it upon himself to adopt us and make sure that we were taken care of. He took us through customs, got us a taxi, got us a hotel, and gave us his home number to ask him or anyone in his family for any favor we might need anytime of day or night! That was our introduction to the people of Egypt.

Cairo is AMAZING!! It was 1:00 in the morning and the city was bursting with life! Further more their soccer team had just won a game and thousands of men were happily celebrating in the streets--we had a ton of fun our very first night.

Oh, and on one toast to moms, cause they think that I'm Egyptian!!! I love it!

The next day brought us to the incredible Egyptian museum and a boat ride down the Nile. From there we took a spectacular horse ride through the desert and around the pyramids--I'm in love with this country! Police on camelback came to greet us and rode with us part of the way, we circled the pyramids which are some of the most beautiful structures I've ever seeen in my life! We wove our way through local markets and explored the less touristic and more residential parts of towns, met some wonderful people, and then found ourselves at a soccer game!

Yep, at the last minute, we got tickets to this huge game--no big deal really, just three little american girls in a sea of 18,000 men at the finals!!! There were police, undercover police, tons of men with riot gear, muzzled dogs, it was a scene to say the least! The turned out to be great fun, we made friends easily and they were very good about protecting us when a flag burst into flames a row below us, when a fight broke out right next to us, when someone with some kind of torch or flame thrower decided to throw flames RIGHT above our heads, or when the riot broke out two rows above us and all the secret agents and riot geared men burst on the scene causing all these men to fall down several rows of seats. Other than that, not much happened excpet for a really exciting game! :)

Onward to Mt. Sinai and Sharm El Sheik and the Rea Sea--I woke up at 5:30 on our night bus. There higlighted by the deep orange light of dawn were the most dramatic desert mountains. Severe, jagged, harsh looking, carved by sands, winds, and time, they were beautifully set off by the warm light of the rising sun and the surrounding dunes of sand. From high above sea level, we could look down into the distance and there was an oasis, a town carved out of the desert that kissed the sea.

Now I'm aware that there is some story i can't fully remember about way the Rea Sea is in fact called the Red Sea, but I swear to you it is the bluest water I have EVER and will EVER see!! I am CONVINCED they dye this stuff--colors this vibrant and true are simply not possible!!!! This is suppose to be one of the best scuba diving sites in the world, and through I have never dove before, I couldn't let the oportunity pass me by. Let's just say I now plan to get certified--IT WAS OUT OF THIS WORLD! The coral reefs are ever color, type, size, and shape, holding the most wonderous sea life that seemingly floats, flys, glides, darts, and dances through the water! Every type of fish, the most vibrant colors, tiny angle fish to groupers half my size, parrot fish, sea turtles, white tipped sharks, eels bigger than me, and schools of dolphins--in all my travels I have been blinded to the magical world of water! There is so much beauty in this world.

There is so much beauty in this world.

I am happy we came here for more reasons than one. I have had the opportunity to sit down with many Egyptians who have told me how sorry they were for what happened in Spetember, and just how sad they have been that we are the first Americans they have seen since. It's been wonderful to talk to them and to experience first hand how much we HAVE TO let go of our fears and live.

From here I head inland to Luxor, the Veley of the Dead, the tomb of Nefertiti andof King Tut, and then we will head up the Nile back to Cairo where we'll meet a lovely English lady and her really sweet Egyptian husband for a night ride in the desert.

I think I won't be too sad when I leave this land becauseI am certain I will see this place again--there is something that I can't explain that pulls you here...

all my love and best wishes from across the way,

Monday, May 13, 2002

African Skies

So my friends, forgive me, forgive me, forgive me! I have not had access to communication!
where am I and what am i doing you might ask, well....

So I had the option to transfer to another country right away, but after exploring the options availible, none of them fit me well, so I decided to cash in my very expensive one-way ticket home, find a cheaper ticket and use the extra money to travel! :) Sorry, couldn't help myself!

So since we've last spoken, I made my way to the beautiful lands of Uganda. Five of us made the adventurous bus trip on a large, leaky, cold bus (thrid world baby!), through the sketchy Ugandan boarder at 3:00 a.m. with lots of guns and men--use your imagination--it was fun! However as the sun rose, it revealed a beautiful country,lush, rich, kind wonderful people with welcoming hearts. As we got out of the bus yet again for one of those ridiculous bus searches, a beautiful, full grow male baboon just walked right up to us, said hi, and went on his way! yeah, the locals kind of laughed at how excited we were--couldn't help it.

Cute little monkeys played on the roof of our hostel as we dropped off our bags and headed for our rafting trip on the Nile! Those of you who may not be familiar with rafting lingo, the rapids go from class 1-6, 1=your bathtub and 6=death. The Nile river is the largest commercial rafting river for class fives baby--you just play with death! ;)
IT WAS AMAZING!!!! We navigated the river and then it navigated us--our raft flipped twice, people were constantly thrown out, I chipped a tooth going down a waterfall! They asked me if I wanted to stoip rafting--HA! Bring it on baby, 100% BadAss! :) You can't even see it when I smile--I'll worry about that later! It was Incredible! We jumped out of the raft and just swam down the Nile, rich, green forests surrounded us, African Fisher Eagles flew overhead, two little boys rowed past in a dug-out canoe, the sound of calm flowing waters--I lost track of how many times I pinched myslef!

We braved the bus yet again back to Kenya. I found it amusing that we have to sign our lives away for the rafting trip but not the deadly bus rides. Our driver thought nothing of driving a HUGE bus over 85 mph, twisting and turning over small bad roads, then it rained--did he slow down?? Why should he! Then the crazy bastard decided to hit a speed bump at roughly 65 mph!!!!! Were we sitting in the back row? oh yes! did we go flying through the air?? oh yes! so much so that we all slammed out heads on the ROOF OF THE BUS!!! Projectile pinapples and bananas went flying everywhere--we were safer on the river!!!
Luckily this time, two keyan women adopted us, so when we hit the boarder again, one advised me not to risk my life by going to one of the restrooms! Right!

Yet another bus brought us to the eastern coast of Kenya. I sat next to a Masai warrior which was pretty cool, though he didn't speak much English, he kept offering me gum which was sweet. Though it was another dangerous ride, (i have to say I really don't reccomend the bus), I starred out into the Kenyan wild and starring right back at me were girrafes, zebras, elephants, baboons--breathtaking! I don't think I can ever set foot in another zoo again!

We arrived at the town of Mombasa and was shocked at what we saw! It looked as if we had been transported to the Middle East, the entire coast of Kenya is Muslim! It made my co-travelers a littl.e nervous thinking that they might all hate Americans, but they are Muslim Kenyans, and since Kenyanms love Americans we were in no danger!

HOWEVER, giuded by the Loney Planet, we thought we could crash at the New People's Lodge. It received a nice write up, and we thought it safe for 5 women. Ha Ha! So we enter. We have to go through this cage like place were this guy throws keys at us, we go upstairs through this dingy, dark, dirty, B-grade movie type place, and surrounding us at all times are dozens of Muslim men, half naked what have you--you know the usual. I enter my room, a worker manages to get the dirty little ceiling fan to spin lazily as he adamantly warns me "PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE leave NOTHING of value in the room." Smiles and walks away. The room looks like a scene where some man got killed and you would find the tape on the floor outlining his body! there was a bullet hole in the window, used condoms in the toilet and brown running water! And some wacko was screaming American Woman to us from the street below! I made a mental note of write Loney Planet a little letter as I decided to gather my friends to high tail it the hell out of there! They had been digging out their Swiss Army knives to sleep with, but instead happily agreed to go. We found safer lodging for the night and headed for the beach the next day.

I'd like to take this moment to thank my mother for giving me such a diverse background. It has been VERY USEFUL being able to pass as white, black, African, and most recently Muslim. I decided to exploit my Arabic name, which was received so well in the Muslim areas that we got great deals on lodging and friendly people to help us! Cheers mom! You find ways to help me everywhere and im everyway!
Alright, enough of that sappy crap!

We hit the CHARMING, GORGOUS, quiet, secluded, quaint island of Lamu--which was perfect in everyway! It's a huge fishing island, no cars, donkeys only, beaches, small town, ancient ruins--amazing. Our luck continued and we found this stunning house to rent for the week--three stories, the top floor was all windows that faced the gorgeous ocean, fishermen came to our door every morning offering their fresh catches of crab, praws, barracuda (which is excellent!!), snapper, on and on. And...well...the house kinda came with boy--YIKES!!! I know I know!!!! But he was a great cook, left flowers in all of our rooms, and fresh squeezed mango and passion fruit juices everyday! Ha came with the house!!! what do you want from me????
We sailed, explored the island, had a WONDERFUL lunch with a local family, rode donkeys (please picture my big ass riding, well, a big ass--pretty funny, especially when he tried to buck me--TWICE!), got henna painting on our hands and feet(which I love)--and enjoyed every moment on that island!

Our luck continued and we got a ride in an SUV (thank you lord!) back to Nairobi, and meet this wonderful couple that works for the US embassy and they're letting us crash in the big house and having dinner cooked for us tonight!! Unbelievable!!! I'm not even sure what is going on!

I head to South Africa tomorrow and shall be hoime in a couple of weeks!

I can't wait to see you guys, I hope everything at home is treating you well, and I shall see you soon!!

until then,

Sunday, April 21, 2002


hello and greetings from Nairobi!
I have arrived safely and withour incident--good news!
Better news--kenya is SPECTACULAR!!!!!!! Oh my god you guys, i am in awe!
There have been so many ups and downs but in one day being here has lifted
my spirits and awakened my hunger for knowledge and adventure!
Peace Corps has been so generous and has treated us like royality! the
hotel is like a resort--then again i am flabbergasted by a flushing
toilet--but seriously, it is beautiful. The Kenyans--an incredible
people, with kindness i have never experienced the likes of, they are
beautiful, oh and I am no longer a Giantess of the 8th continent!
Last night a live traditional band came with dancers who lite up the night
and my heart--THEY WERE AMAZING!!! I can't even begin to tell you--the
drums, and dancing, the power, the happiness--I'm still blown away!
I'M IN AFRICA--IT'S SO AMAZING, better than any discovery channel...I mean
anything--I'm floored and speechless!

Our conference starts in 15 minutes and I start to figure out what is
going on and what my next step is. They have provided FREE internet
access so I am expecting to hear from you! :)

hope to talk to you soon!

Saturday, April 20, 2002

Coming Home.....

Well my friends,

I have been evacuated.

Since we last talked much has happened on this island, in my region, in my mind and in my heart. I could tell you about the bombings, the bolwing up of bridges, the killings, the assinations, the cutting of communication, the closing of all airports, the torture, the madness. I could tell you about leaving my village, their sadness and tears, their numerous gifts and well wishes, how they locked mu house told me it would always be mine, how they would wait there for me, how i must return home--my village. I could tell you about the fury of emtions i have actually I'm not sure I could. I could tell you about our evacuation drama, how we had to travel hours upon hours of bad roads trying to find an airport where our hired plane would not be shot down. I could tell you so much more.

Instead I will tell you that I am safe and well. I have already started my move from grief to gratitude for every second I was given on this island. Leaving is bittersweet--my heart hurts to leave and jumps with joy to see you all soon. Forgive me, there is so much to say, but I have not yet found the words with which to tell you.

We have to go to kenya for a couple of weeks, I do not know yet when i will be home but I will be in touch...and I will be fine. So I'm sorry to say that this is the last in the series of letters from Madagascar-I fly out tomorrow morning.

I do want take one more moment to thank you for your emails and letters, I know many of them could not get through and I apologize for that, but several did in the last couple of weeks and there is no way to tell you how much they meant to me. Without your communication there is no way I could have found happiness here--it was in that balance between my two worlds that i was able to thrive. I am now in search of balance once again.

From the bottom of my heart--thank you,
all my love,

Saturday, April 06, 2002

Mbola Tsara!!!!

Mbola Tsara ! (yo !)
Ino vao vao ? (what’s going on ?) Akory? (how YOU doing?)
Lot’s of goods and bad have happened since we talked last:

--I spent an incredible day body surfing, enjoying the beach, witnessed
one of the most beautiful sunsets ever imagined, and actually found a
decent bottle of wine which Jesse (volunteer) and I enjoyed over a great
--there have been more shootings, raids, riots, thug forces on the
streets, use of torture tactics, grenade showers, and deaths!---WHY??
--there has been no movement towards a solution—(sigh!)
--I am still safe!!—we like that!
--I had some incredible interviews at the hospital, got great info and am
working on starting informational classes in my house for women after
their prenatal consultations—very good
--almost got bitten by a hidden snake attempting to slither into my
house—not so good
--another cyclone veered out of the way sparing us once again—thank you
very much
--people think rainbows eat your children!!—no comment
--some &( year old tried to seduce me!-go back to the playground honey
--easter weekend was a PARTAY! ‘ volunteers crashed out my house, there
was an easter disco (???) where we danced the night away fuelled by my
Malagasy dad’s home brew rum which was surprisingly sweet, smooth and even
more surprisingly STRONG AS HELL—it’s all a cultural exchange!
--I tried to explain easter in the states, they only looked at me like I
was out of my goddamn mind-coloring egss (why play with food), giant
rabbits, and what kind of chicken lays chocolate eggs???—nevermind!
We enjoyed the fumbe (tradition) of having an easter monday pinic by our
river, everyone fires up their pots of rice and kills their chickensd and
goes to town. I suppose the whole sandwhich thing would be too
--a small boy drowned in the commotion of the festivities—hertbreaking
--there have been 4 deaths last week due to malaria—im religious about my
--the planning for the girls empowerment camp is going really well and
should be a great success—Excellent
--I love my village—it’s a beautiful thing!
--I’m domestic!!! Who knew?? I’ve made banana pancakes, crepes, and
zucchini bread for my villagers and it was a hit! No I’m NOT trying to
buy friends! I resent you thinking so! Humpf!
--a 17 year old wrote me a love letter—why me?
--then his fat, old dad tried to get me to be his “deuxieme bureau” what
the Malagasy fondly refer to as you second “office”, many men have many
other palces of “work”! then they wonder why they have so many damn kids
and STDs!!! Stop WORKING so hard!!!—sorry gramps, go back home to your
wife and kids!! Jesus!
--my – month anniversary is in “ weeks!!—holy shit!
--I miss you guys!!—very much

I just got word that the mail system is running—I going to check my box
right away!!! I think I’m going to cry—and PLEASE write, please please
please! I print it out, you can write ( pages worth!!! Please!!!

All the best, hope to hear from you SOON!!!

Friday, March 01, 2002



mom send this to everyone for me too! thanks! love you!

Hiiiiiiiiiiiii !

First order of business-

Hello hello hello!

I want to wish you all well and apologize for the mail situation! Perhaps some of you have cursed me thinking I haven't taken the time to write-THIS IS NOT SO!! I'm as frustrated as you are, I've sent many letters home, I hope they've gotten to you, and I'm sorry for not replying to any letters y ou may have sent-I simply have not received them! I am so sorry! Just please know that I miss you more than you know, and before I get to sappy and lose all of your respect-know that I think of you all of the time, and fond memories get me through tough days here!

WHICH brings me to my second order of business---


Perhaps you have watched the news and have already heard that my little isl and paradise has gone to hell!! The political situation is out of control, violence has increased as well and mediations-our emails and mail is being screened so I won't go into any details but there are two presidents battl ing for control and now it's up to the military to side and grant power to whom ever they choose. Needless to say this is slightly dangerous and we a re on plan A and B-plan A, consolidation, we all gather by the airport from our indiviual villages and await further instructions. PLAN B-evacuation, depending on where I am the moment the call is made I may be forced to lea ve immediately, unable to return to my village, say good bye or grab a sing le belonging! This whole thing is crazy! I can't begin to tell you what I 'm feeling except to say that I feel like my anchor's been cut and I've bee n set adrift to whether a storm-controless!

PLEASE know that I am safe and well!! Truly! The moment I could be in any danger, plan B would go into effect, and, well, I'll be on my way home to you! We really don't know what's going on but it doesn't look good-it's eit her dictator or coup d'etat---what a choice! I am safe (ok mom and those o f you who might doubt me!! You know I'd say nothing rather than lie!!); I don't feel like I am in any danger, my calm, sleepy village continues to p lant rice and work as if nothing is going on...oh, and I'm bigger than EVER YONE in my village anyway!!! :) However we are all on alert, keeping a lo w profile-as low as I can for being a 6'2" white girl as they see me! I wait, helpless just like the in country natives-we wait, we hope...

If you'd like look up Madagascar, check out the news, you'll probably know more than I do since the news is censored and I only get what they want me to hear-send me some news, though whatever you hear on the news or wherever -I am far removed from all the violence and FAR FAR FROM THE CAPITAL!!

I should be checking this again in a week or two, since mail is impossible I refuse to give up my only communication with the outside word, but be for warned, the old president has declared a state of emergency and has taken c ontrol of EVERYTHING all transporation, communication, MAIL-everything-ther efore the internet may be down at times-but I4S KEEP ON TRYIN' don't yous b e worryin na, I is just fine!

I miss you, much love--

Hey, was I the one who said "hey what could happen there in Madagascar? NOTHING! I'll be safest there than anywhere else in the world!!"

Someone have my medal of stupidity ready for me whenever I make it home!

In touch soon AND I'm FINE (ok mom)!

Ngoma anao zaho! I miss you,


Wednesday, January 16, 2002

From an island in the Indian Ocean

Mbola tsara everyone!
I miss you guys so much!!!
Hope you had a wonderful holiday or days! mine were great!! we cooked, we partook in the local toka, local rum that is—i am not crazy enough to try the home brewed stuff—people hqve literally gone blind….think im all set with that!

God there is so much to say

Since i have last emailed i have killed a chicken—yes my friends i have tasted bloood, i am now a killer…hope you dont think to ill of me. Its acutually quite an experience here; you dont break the neck first, you siply step on the wings, hold the head firm and saw at the neck with a lovely dull malagasy knife---yes that was my first and i do believe my last time killing a chicken—though i have to say thpose bastards are annoying!! they roost IN the goddamn house, smell and shit all over the place, rats invaded the house, i STILL have bed bugs and fleas no matter how many times i put my sheets in the sun those damn kids just keep dragging them back in my room, my malagsy mpother turned psycho stole my batteries—BITCH, ive been sick a total of six times—im a rock star, ive got bites of ever kind ALL over, for the next to years i will be living in a red zone for malaria and cholera OH and didi you know that (à percent of all plague cases are found here. And all i can do is smile! no worries mates! i promise you i am in no immediate danger, im doing really well and so excited to start! as long as i can still smile i know im ok! oh and i made a shit tove, yes that is right, a stove out of shit—you make it by HAND, that WAS NOT in the contract! never again—thats all i have to say about that!

On the flip side, ive been partying with the other volunteers every chance we get before we get shipped out to site! it quiet strange being in madagascar in a latin bar drinking the local punch speaking french and malagasy and listening to michael jackson blast through the speakers—sometimes i get just a little confused as to where in the world i am!

Speaking of speaking malagasy, i just had mu final langauga test and they rated me advanced!!! hahaha—thats so funny shit cause its impossible! but my peers nominated me to give a speech in malagasy at out swearing, which i was very honored to except until i learned that its a hige deal and the ambassor comes, and majors, and generals, and all kinds of officials, and its on TV and i get interviewed—no pressure! christ, what do i get myself into?! this is going to be very funny—Aisha makes a royal ass of herself!

WE CAMPED AT A NATIONAL PARK last weekend which was beautiful!!! we took a three hour night hike and "three hour morning hike and saw chamelons, and lemurs, and snakes, and the kind of insects they had in Indian Jones and the Temple of Dome, and it was just truly incredible! i have some great parks up by me—i can not wait to explore them!

There is so much more to say, but itll have to wait untill next time!

All my love and best wishes from across the seas, happy belated holidays, and more letters are on the way!

Tiako be anareo,