Rice, Rice Everywhere

•August 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment


Dear Mom and Dad,

Do you remember when I was little what a baby I was? I hated to share drinks because I didn’t like germs. I wouldn’t drink water out of the Dixie cups in the berry fields because I could see flecks of dirt in the water.  I hated showers, but if I did take one it had to be so hot that I would feel sick afterwards because I would get so cold otherwise.  Also, remember how I refused to eat rice because of that time I found a maggot? That former child of me would either toughen up or die here! The only time I eat on clean dishes is at the Peace Corps training center. Everyone else believes in a cold water rinse at best.  Dirt is the least of my worries in the water, and I love showers so much that I take ice cold bucket baths…and I eat rice THREE TIMES A DAY! No maggots, but truck-fulls of rocks. If I did find a bug I would probably take it out and keep eating, though.

On the bright side, I’ve nearly finished two weeks of practicum teaching. One more week to go, then I find out where my site will be.  I even go visit for a couple of days to nail down my school year schedule, then I come back to my host family for three to four more weeks of language training. I’m still hoping for the beach!

This weekend my training group (Michela, Karolina, April M., Valerie, and Andrew) and I are going to Andasibe.  We will stay in the park in a tent Saturday night in hopes of spotting some lemurs.  It promises to be a very cold adventure. Today in Ambatomanga, Peace Corps is teaching us how to kill a chicken, so we’ll probably bring the carcass and barbeque in the park.  Do you think I could really kill a chicken? I guess we’ll find out.  I’m so excited for our first real trip, though.  I hope we see some lemurs, they can be pretty illusive.

How are things going at home? Are you getting excited about your cruise?  If you can swing it, send me a pciture or two when you get back. Tell everyone “hi” for me.  I love you, talk to you soon!

♥ Callie


Settling in to Ambatomanga

•January 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment


Dear Mom and Dad,

I just got your first letter today.  Two and a half weeks- not bad!  This is the beginning of my second week with my host family and things are beginning to settle down.  The first week was very hard- like an emotional boot camp.  We have class six days a week (actually seven last week).  Beginning at 8 and ending at 5, then we also have a 5:30 curfew, so we’re with our families from 5:30 until we got to bed.   It’s exhausting.  This Saturday was my first good day.  We did a practice teaching class and it reminded me that there was indeed a reason and a purpose in my coming.  It’s very easy to lose sight of that in training.  We are very much like circus animals.  There is very little creative thought or even appreciation at this level.  Education at it’s finset, I’m sure.  Today we observed a classroom and it made me so excited to get to my own site and have my own class.

You mentioned that there was e-mail in Tana, but it may as well be in Egypt because even though it’s only an hour’s ride by taxi, we have the freedom of a five-year old.  Once I’m finished with training and at my site, it should get a little looser.  I might be able to access the Internet on a monthly basis.

My host family is very nice.  The parents are teachers at the local school and the kids are 12, 14, 16, 20, and 21.  Today is actually my host parents’ 24th anniversary.  They are a nice Protestant family  and they have devotions together every night.  I’m their first Peace Corps volunteer and the first few days were a little over whelming for me.  They wanted me to the be best, smartest, greatest volunteer in the village and were constantly teaching me new things, but I think the site coordinator from PC talked to them and things are much better.  They’ve began to give me a little personal space and stopped with some of the mini-language quizzes!  Overall, I’m feeling much more positive.  I miss you all like crazy and it feels like I’ve already been gone for months rather than a couple of weeks.  My Malagasy is slowly coming along, but I have mastered bucket showers and squat toilets!  Dad, you wouldn’t believe all the carbs they eat and Mom, you wouldn’t believe how they eat the same thing morning, noon, and night, seven days a week.  it’s not going to be hard to plan a Malagasy meal when I get back to the States.  I love you guys and look forward to your next letter.  Hugs and kisses!  Love, Callie

From Montasoa

•January 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment


Dear Mom and Dad,

We arrived at the training center today.  You guys would love it here.  The site is located next to a beautiful lake a three hour drive east of the capitol.  It’s about a mile in elevation so it’s probably in the mid 60s with a constant, misty rain.  There’s pine trees, leafy trees, and what looks like a really big poinsettia plant/ tree.  I can’t get too attached, though, because we’re only here for one night.  Tomorrow we have a three-hour language course and then we’re shipped off to our host families.  I’ve asked to be placed with a non-smoking Protestant family somewhere near a post office, but I’m afraid it might all come down to which family has a bed long enough to fit me.  It’s true, I am a giant here!

One good thing, Mom, is that your prayers for my sleep are working.  Last night we arrived at our hotel around midnight.  I was feeling sick and tired so I took a shower and went to bed while most of the volunteers went out on the town.  The next morning my roommate informed me that I am a very sound sleeper (Melissa and Lesa would have been shocked!).  Apparently she came in around two and turned on the overhead light, russled through some plastic gags, and generally fumbled around.  Then around three some neighbors came in singing loudly until some one pounded on their door to shut up.  I blissfully slept through it all, completely unaware of any problems!  Keep up the prayers, because I’m still pretty tired.

One bad thingis that my backpack was left behind in Paris.  I had all my important stuff in that bag, of course (Bible, addresses, camera, underwear, warm clothes, etc.) but they’ve all ready located it and it should arrive within the next two days.  At least I packed some extra underwear in my carry-on.  My guitar made it all the way and I’m sure I still have way more than most people here.

Once we’re at our sites, we’re all asssigned bikes.  Apparently they will give us helmets so I didn’t need to worry about that, Dad!  Things are beggining to settle in.  I’m still tired and homesick, but I’m getting excited too.  The country’s beautiful, and the people seem very nice.  When we arrived at the training center, the Peace Corps Staff provided us with woven bags filled with paper, envelpoes, and stamps.  The medical staff met us with needles!  So far I’ve had my shots for measles/mumps/rubella, yellow fevor, typhoid and hepatitis A & B.  I have two more cycles of hep A & B, three more cyles of rabies, and another shot for something else.  Grandma Rachel would be so proud!

Well my brain in fried.  I’ve been in meetings all afternoon.  I’m gonna go, but I’ll write again as soon as I can.  Say hi to Steph, Jim, and the kids for me.  I love you guys!

Love, Callie

P.S.  My fellow volunteers tell me you guys can pick up these aerograms at the post office fro 60 cents each.  That’s cheaper than a regular envelope and you don’t have to mail it from the post office.

From Philly

•January 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment


To you both:

Tomorrow is the big day.  I leave early in the morning to get my shots, then at noon we catch a bus to the airport and our flight leaves JFK at 7:40 p.m.  I’m doing better now.  I’m sorry for worrying you so much.  I’m still having a hard time getting excited, it looks like a very lonely two years.  Pray that my attitude doesn’t interfere with god’s plan for me here.  I’m getting more sleep and getting to know my fellow volunteers.  So far no new best friends, but there are many nice people.  It’s going to be an adventure that increases with each passing day.  I love you guys and remember, In Peace Corps, “No news is good news.”  I probably won’t have a phone or e-mail for a while, so be patient with the foreign postal service!  Love, Callie