“The Peace Corps is guilty of enthusiasm and a crusading spirit. But we’re not apologetic about it.”

Earlier this morning I heard thunder, not just a boom but loud claps and rumbles following the boom. The rain came next, a torrential downpour, then the rain stopped. Today is dark, cloudy and ever so humid. The wind is strong. I can hear the leaves.

Cat news: This morning, when I was feeding the cats, one came over to me, and I scratched behind his ears and by his tail. He purred (assuming it was the he) and meowed. All of a sudden I saw Henry’s nose. I had not closed the gate. The cat and Henry sniffed noses twice then on the third sniff the cat hissed but wasn’t too concerned as it didn’t run and hide. I’m going to use my flashlight to see the other cat under the bed.

Fifty years ago today I landed in Ghana to begin my Peace Corps training. I remember getting off the plane and being hit with a blast of hot air. When I was standing at the top of the steps waiting to disembark, I remember thinking I am in Africa, actually in Africa. We walked down the steps to the tarmac and then into the Kotoka Airport terminal where there was a welcoming ceremony. We drank orange Fanta. One of the images still in my memory is of the crew of the TWA charter which brought us to Africa. They were buying souvenirs in the airport shop. I don’t know why this odd image was saved to my memory drawers. We then grabbed our luggage and boarded buses for the trip down coast to Winneba where we would begin training. After we left Accra, I fell asleep on the bus. I had not slept the whole flight. Most of us hadn’t. In Winneba we checked in, were assigned rooms and given our schedules. That night there was a welcoming dinner. The next day was shot day. The one I remember was the rabie’s shot which brought most of us to our knees. Language training started that afternoon. We spent two weeks in Winneba. I remember all of us walking into town to meet the chief. I also remember going to town myself to find the post office where I could buy my aerograms. I wanted to share every bit of this first experience with my family. I also wanted them to know I had safely arrived.

That all of this happened fifty years ago is unbelievable. I was twenty-one and fresh out of college, and here I was beginning the most amazing experience of my life. If I were rich, I would go back as often as I could. I have made the trip back three times. The last time with my friends was the best time. I hope to go back in 2021, fifty years since the close of my Peace Corps service. I love Ghana.

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19 Comments on ““The Peace Corps is guilty of enthusiasm and a crusading spirit. But we’re not apologetic about it.””

  1. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Those are wonderful memories to have. I hope you get to go back many times.
    I haven’t thought about aerograms in decades. 🙂 I still remember using them to write to my cousins in California.

    Seems things are progressing on the cat front. Good for Henry and for Cat 1 that they seem unconcerned.

    I woke up to rain and background thunder early this morning. It wasn’t too close but the rumble was constant so it must have been all around me. We got in one walk mid-morning and another very short one a few minutes ago. It’s murky and sticky but not very warm.

    Enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      My other used to say I got more written on an aerogram than she thought humanly possible. They were the cheapest way to write home.

      I was glad Henry seemed curious. That the cat hissed would have bothered me except he never hid. I have to find the other cat so I can see what it looks like.

      Everything is still now. The air is so humid it is uncomfortable. I didn’t turn on the AC but I will turn on the one in the bedroom tonight.

      Have a great evening!

  2. Rowen Says:

    It’s odd what the mind collects and frames as a memory. It’s almost like there’s a camera shutter and it just takes an exposure now and then.

    I’m having fun with the cat news. 🙂

    • katry Says:

      Rowen,
      It is so true about memories. The big events stay with me. The small, inconsequential memories are saved almost without me choosing to save them. If I close my eyes, I can see the stewardess in her uniform buying a souvenir. Weird!

      I am going cat hunting to see the other cat. Now I know what one looks like though I don’t if it is the male or female. I do know those cats can eat!

  3. Birgit Says:

    It’s hot! And dry. Longing for rain.

    Congratulations, courageous cat 1!
    Also congratulations to soccer Sweden, they won deservedly, we’re out.
    Good luck for Ghana 2021! Selfishly I hope we can participate via stories on KTCC and photos 🙂

    I’m just listening to a concert on the radio, Marin Patenaude, an interesting singer from Canada, new to me, in parts her voice remind me of young Joni. Have you heard of her before, maybe she’s better known in the States?

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      Today is damp, humid and ugly. The sun is out for a bit then disappears again. The breeze is long gone.

      I was pleased that Henry didn’t chase the cat as he had when it ventured down stairs.

      You know if I make it back, I will write KTCC so you can share my adventure.

      The US women have done well.

      I haven’t ever heard of Marin Patenaud which doesn’t exclude her being known here. In the beginning she reminded me of Judy Collins and her early albums like In My Life album. I also heard the Joni. Thanks for the introduction.

    • olof1 Says:

      Thanks! It has just taken the swedish women 24 years to beat Your team 🙂

      Christer.

  4. Bob Cohen Says:

    Hi Kat,

    The amazing thing is that 50 years has passed since you arrived in Africa in the Peace Corps and I was trying to figure out how not to get drafted and sent to that meat grinder of our youth called the Vietnam War. I’m amazed how much things have changed.

    The truly amazing event occurred next month when Neil Armstrong was the first human to walk on the moon. I never thought as a kid that it would happen in my lifetime.

    Where did the time go? It all seemed like it just happened yesterday. 🙂

    Another hot and sunny day with a high in the 90s.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      I know. I can’t believe it has been fifty years. I spoke to my friend who was with me. She couldn’t believe it either: half a century away.

      The Peace Corps was draft deferrable which is why so many guys were in my program: 100 in a group of 125. One guy got drafted and Peace Corps told him under no circumstances to leave Ghana. They took care of it and he was deferred.

      As you might remember, I heard on the radio the walk on the moon. It wasn’t as impressive listening and not seeing.

      We were in the 70’s today and the humidity was awful.

      • Bob Cohen Says:

        While in college I had a student deferment. When they announced a draft lottery in 1969 I dropped out of school to become eligible for the first lottery which would have the largest number of men available to meet the draft quota for that year. If my birthday hadn’t been drawn number 346, I would have enlisted in the Navy or the Coast Guard.

        The Peace Corps is one of this country’s best efforts to bring understanding and peace to the third world. Thanks for your good work in Ghana.

      • katry Says:

        Thank you, Bob. I remember someone saying that Peace Corps volunteers are the best representatives of our country overseas.

        I remember sitting in a local bar with so many guys. We were watching the draft lottery. Moans accompanied the early numbers. I’m sure you were totally relieved. Either one would have been a great choice, a safer choice.

  5. Hedley Says:

    The Amazing Race Finale. From London to Detroit ? Seriously Mrs MDH and I would have won this at a stroll. How hilarious was that.

    Meanwhile as we said goodbye to Birgit’s Germany ladies and wait for the showdown between England and the USA on Tuesday for a place in the final. Clearly a win win for me

    Once I oversaw the management of the Guardian Building but never rappelled down the outside !

    Happy Peace Corps Anniversary

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      This was an odd race.

      I would not have won this race or any race. I know older racers never make it. Running would do me in!

      I though of you when I realized the US is going to play England. I wondered how you’d choose a favorite. I like your win win.

      Thank you!!

  6. lilydark Says:

    Hi Kat,
    You continue to lead an amazing life. Glad the the dog and cat situation seem to be working out. I just woke up from a long nap and sleep is still calling for me.
    Take Care,
    Lori and the gang

    • katry Says:

      Hi Lori,
      I love naps!

      The cat keeps running under the bed. I’ll have to sit with them even longer,, but I keep forgetting it is only 9 days since they came. They were alone for 5 weeks when my aunt was in the hospital.

      You and cookies also take care.

  7. olof1 Says:

    Hot here today but we’re having a strong and cool wind blowing and it tricks us, feels much nicer outside than it actually is until one comes out of winds reach, then it is horrible 🙂 :-)It will cool down considerable already tomorrow though and then we’ll have cool spring temperatures for a week instead, I’m not sure I like that either 🙂

    At least one of the cats seems to adapt rather well to Henry and You! I wonder how much longer it’ll take for the second one?

    Have a great day!

    Christer..

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      I love when we have a wind or even a breeze. It cools the house nicely. Yesterday we had nothing, not a whisper of air. The cool air will be here later in the week.

      When I got Fern and Addie, they were five. Fern was out first, but it took Maddie a month. I’m going to look under the bed to see the second cat. I don’t even know what it looks like.

      Enjoy the day!!

  8. Erin Apostolos Says:

    Yay Henry and Jack? Gwen? No matter, progress is being made! Happy Anniversary.

    • katry Says:

      Erin,
      Thanks!!

      Yup, small steps for Henry and maybe Jack. I have yet to see the second cat.


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