“I think I am typical in believing that the Peace Corps trained us brilliantly and then did little more except send us into the bush. It was not a bad way of running things.”

Yesterday there was thunder and heavy rain, but the rain didn’t last long though its remnants did. The morning was cloudy and damp, but the sun will make an appearance. It will be warm at 61°. We had no concert today due to illness, someone else’s, not mine. I have another day of leisure.

This is the rainy season in Ghana. It was my favorite season. The millet filling the fields was tall. When I rode on back dirt roads, I couldn’t see compounds, only millet and the road ahead. The traditional food in Northern Ghana is t-zed, short for tuo zaafi, a sticky ball of millet you eat with soup. It was not one of my favorites. The soup was. I ate okra soup, my first okra. I didn’t even know okra existed before Ghana. I loved groundnut stew, made with peanut butter, groundnut paste. It was best with chicken. Light soup too was a favorite.

Peace Corps started in 1961. I began serving in 1969, still the early days. I always think of them as the wild, wooly days. Africa back then was mostly peaceful, Ghana especially. Peace Corps never kept tabs on us. We were on our own but nobody minded. We got mail from Peace Corps, the Week in Review from the New York Times and medical, Peace Corps and in-country up-dates. I remember the medical updates. Come on down to Accra. There has been a yellow fever outbreak and a bit later a cholera outbreak, and you need shots. The cholera was especially bad. Medical also reminded us of the usual shots we needed, especially gamma globulin every six months. We needed Aralen refills, the nasty tasting anti-malaria pills we took every week. Peace Corps never knew but we didn’t take it in the dry season, no mosquitos.

We left our schools to travel to Accra, Togo and other countries in West Africa. Peace Corps had no idea where we were. We didn’t care and they didn’t mind. I stayed in Bolga my first year from September to April. Peace Corps sent a nice letter saying I needed to check in with the office as it had been a long while. I guess they wanted to make sure I was healthy and they hoped happy. I went to Accra during Easter holiday as I was going to travel to Togo and needed my dollars from Peace Corps, a re-entry permit from Ghana and a visa to Togo. Peace Corps was relieved I was alive and well.

The world is different now. Peace Corps is cautious, and the safety and wellness of volunteers are prime. I understand the necessity, but I am glad I served in the wild and wooly days. They were perfect for me and my friends.

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4 Comments on ““I think I am typical in believing that the Peace Corps trained us brilliantly and then did little more except send us into the bush. It was not a bad way of running things.””

  1. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    Today there’s a chance of some severe thunderstorms later. The predicted high for today is 97°. We just began an El Niño summer which here usually means cooler and wetter. I’m awaiting the cooler part. 🙂

    Your adventures in the Peace Corps are amazing. Like everything else in life, the Peace Corps has changed. Africa is a place we don’t usually give much thought to here in North America. However, it is a very important part of the world and our adversaries are setting up shop in the equatorial parts of the continent because they want access to the resources. I just read an article that the Russian, paramilitary mercenaries, “The Wagner Group” has set up shop in The Central African Republic and is running the place since their government has created a failed state. China is also heavily involved in parts of Africa.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      Good luck on the cooler part!!

      During the administration of Kwame Nkrumah, the once president of Ghana, he allied himself with Russia. He bought trucks and equipment and accepted doctors from there. That backfired on him. The trucks and equipment didn’t last long, and there were no parts. The doctors were poorly trained. Nkrumah was deposed. Now, China is in Ghana providing assistance especially with gold mining equipment, but Peace Corps is still there. Ghana was the very first country to accept volunteers.

      Peace Corps responds to what each country requests. It adapts. I was an English teacher. Now, Ghana wants computer, math and science teachers.

  2. Birgit Says:

    Back home now. It’s summer and it’s hot, sunny 30°C/84°F or so. Where was spring? What’s rain? We went to the annual open-air chorus festival next town, I don’t sing anymore but it was fun to listen to the music.

    • katry Says:

      I think we broke 70° a couple, maybe three times this spring. We seem to have the 60’s down pat. The house was chilly this morning. We still get down to the 50’s at night. It is spring on Cape Cod.

      I envy you the music venues you get to attend though we do have a few town bands who play weekly, and my uke band will start playing every Monday on the Hyannis village green but no festivals.

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