“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.”

What a beautiful day! The sun is bright, a little breeze ruffles the leaves, the humidity is gone, and the air is comfortable at 70˚. My biggest chore today is to hose down the deck, the table and chairs. They are covered with leaves, small branches and parts of acorns. Under the chairs is still some pollen the jet spray should wash away. The birds have been busy so the feeders need seed. The suet feeder was opened by a spawn so it too needs to be refilled.

Forty nine years ago today, a Sunday, the greatest adventure of my life began. Forty nine years ago today I said goodbye to my parents and headed to Philadelphia for Peace Corps Ghana staging. My father drove the three of us, him, my mother and me, to Logan Airport. It was a quiet ride with little conversation. None of us dared to say anything. At Logan, we stood around the gate saying our goodbyes. My mother’s hug was a bit tight. As I walked down the jetway, I turned and waved. They waved too. That was our last goodbye.

When I got on the plane, I was loaded down with carry-ons. My 80 pounds of luggage, filled with clothes and stuff like sheets, towels, a few pans and spices, had been checked. When I sat down, my seat mate asked me if I was running away from home. I told him the Peace Corps. He bought me drinks. I landed in Philadelphia and went to the taxi line. I noticed a guy wearing a button-down collar shirt and a pair of khakis. Around him was more luggage than one guy needed for a trip to Philadelphia. I asked him if he was going to the Hotel Sylvania. He was. I had just met my first fellow trainee. We shared a cab.

Downstairs at the hotel I stood in line to register. I had my fingerprints with me, the last piece of my file. I registered. At that same desk, they gave me my large manila envelope filled with information about Ghana, the staging schedule including a one on one with a psychologist, training information and my room key. I got to my room and unpacked a few things, enough for the five days we’d be in Philadelphia. My roommate never showed. I found that amazing. How could she not show after the long process of being invited to train for Ghana?

Our first meeting on Sunday night was just introductions, more specific instructions and an overview of the rest of staging. They gave us a per diem, but I don’t remember how much. I do remember finding my way to the dentist to have my teeth checked, the yellow fever shot they gave each of us and the first session. It was so unexpectedly boring. I decided to skip sessions and see Philadelphia. That’s when I met Bill and Peg. We became friends and co-conspirators. We toured Philadelphia. I remember the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

We were originally told we’d have to make our own way to New York for the flight. It made no sense to us and eventually no sense to the staff so we loaded luggage and boarded busses to the Philadelphia airport. It was a TWA charter flight to Accra. I was nervous, a little scared, a lot curious and even more thrilled. I was going to Africa.

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8 Comments on ““The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.””

  1. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Great opening for your book! Seriously. I got to the line “I was going to Africa” and wanted to turn the page and read on.

    It’s lovely up here today as well. Sunny and cool. Great day for sitting outside the laundry room and removing shed fur from Rocky while the washing machine did its thing.

    Enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      Thanks! I do have a story. Ghana stays forever in my heart and my memory banks.

      I have to go clean the deck!

      Have a wonderful afternoon as rain is coming sometime this weekend.

  2. olof1 Says:

    I agree with Caryn!

    I wish we had had something like that here! I’m pretty sure I would have taken the chance of going without hesitating even once 🙂

    Cold and rainy once again today, just like it should be on Midsummer’s eve 🙂

    Have a great day!

    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Thanks, Christer

      Peace Corps is the most amazing experience. You would have really loved it.

      It is getting chilly now. I just shut some windows, and I’m thinking of getting my sweatshirt. It is going to rain both weekend days.

      Have a great evening!!

  3. William Sandford Says:

    I’ve often wondered why more people don’t consider the PC, including our own kids. It’s an unforgettable experience, something that shaped our lives as well as the lives of those we served. 49 years, wow.

    • katry Says:

      Bill,
      I too have wondered the same.

      We are of a different time. Maybe it is difficult in today’s world to give up so much and maybe not have water, electricity or wi-fi, the last being the worst.

      It was the defining moment of my life. All my choices after that had pieces of that experience in the choosing.

  4. Spaceman Says:

    Afrika would be a great place to visit. Ghana, Tanzania, Malawi all high on the wish list

    • katry Says:

      Spaceman,
      Definitely get there. Go out of the big cities to the smaller towns and the villages. Eat the local food. Try the local drinks. In Bolga it was pito, a millet beer served in calabashes. Africa is still amazing.


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