So I was going through some really old papers and I ran across a big envelope full of my Peace Corps stuff. Geez. Almost forgot about this. We're talking forty years ago. What I remember was, I went to Ethiopia weighing 180 pounds and came back weighing 130 and full of parasites.
Two things I can tell you. Parasites don't hurt and they keep you thin.
Pictures. Pictures. Pictures. Here're photos of my two closest friends in Ethiopia, the two people who got me through the two years without too much damage to themselves.
and Brenda Bramlett...
Wonderful people. I enjoyed, and profited from, every minute of their company.
Peace Corps service counts toward federal retirement. Which means my 15 years with the FDIC, my 5+ years in the Coast Guard and my 2 years in the Peace Corps all add up to more than 20 years of federal service which translates to a federal pension and a fabulous health plan. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
In 1968, when I finished my tour of duty in Ethiopia, I got these:
Okay, so what was it like in Bonga, Ethiopia? Well, I was a teacher. So I must have been doing some teacher-type stuff. Right? Here I am passing out tests to my seventh graders:
Every school day, at 10am sharp at Atse Beide Mariam School. we had teatime. Here I am drinking tea with the other teachers. I can remember their names. Think I can't? Ato Lul Segged, Ato Solomon, Ato Feredeh, Ato Haile Giorgis and Ato Gizachew. Ato, by the way, means Mister:
In addition to drinking at school, there was after-school drinking, mostly at Weizero Mentwab's bar, which was right down the road from Atse Beide Mariam. Weizero Mentwab was a nice lady who ran a friendly establishment that catered to cops and teachers. She liked us because we didn't talk dirty. Here's a letter from Ato Getahun after I left, lamenting the good old days of barhopping:
So then, twenty years go by and suddenly it's 1986. Wow! It was like you blink your eyes and you put on 80 pounds and your hair starts falling out. 1986. We had a Peace Corps reunion in Washington DC. Bill Moyers was the featured speaker at the memorial service for volunteers who died in service. We had a guy in Ethiopia who was eaten by a crocodile. I am not making this up. But most volunteers who died in service bought the farm in mundane ways: auto accidents, airplane crashes, etc. Here's the program from the memorial service and a pic of some not-so-young veterans of Peace Corps Ethiopia standing near the Lincoln Memorial. I'm the good-looking lad on the left: