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I did know a few couples that had served together in the Peace Corps early in their marriage and it did seem that they had a special bond between them.
Even if that is true, it is hard to know whether that is due to the personality type of a volunteer or to their shared experience.
Volunteer life bursts with cultural faux pas, fruitless projects and second guesses. Even on my best days in Senegal, the sudden scream of “toubab,” a taunting word for foreigners, reminded me that my cheerfulness was jinxed, my presence perhaps unwelcome.
In West Africa, I confronted the toubab version of myself, a self previously foreign to me that was lethargic, cynical and at home with failure.
I drop books off and look for new ones to read whenever I visit. There are beautiful young people, sex, drugs, alcohol, a love triangle, a gruesome murder and cover up in a tropical setting. Unlike my friends in the Preca Society, Peace Corps volunteers are not required to take a vow of chastity.
With an average age of 27 (skewed upwards a bit by the 10% oldster volunteers like me) and a term of service of over two years, it is not surprising that there are many pairings among the volunteers and with others.
The wavy-haired brunette was in the latter category.
She had met her man from the village in which she works.
Add in Peace Corps service by more than 4,800 Volunteers dating back to 1963 in education and youth development.Yet these traits, from which I had previously derived strength, became the source of my immense heartbreak.