1. Fiji Dodging Machetes: How I Survived Forbidden Love, Bad Behavior, and the Peace Corps in Fiji: Chapter One

        Coconut palms swayed in the trade winds like tipsy hula dancers. Turquoise waves nibbled the virginal seashore. A flock of multi-hued parrots landed in unison on a nearby baka tree. They opened their beaks as if chirping their songs for me and me alone. How fortunate I felt to be working in that pristine, primitive paradise, untouched by television and fast-food joints. Then again, island life was hard. People lived in rat-infested thatched huts with no indoor plumbing or electricity. But...

  2. Brazil Fruit and Nuts

    The cajú is an edible fruit which also yields one cashew nut per fruit. The nuts need to be roasted and shelled before they can be eaten. Aracajú, the capital of Sergipe, is named for the ara bird and the cajú.

  3. Brazil Precious Rain

    When I served in the Peace Corps in Brazil, I had no running water. The other PCV and I had to pay a neighbor to fetch water from a dam outside of town. Once a week, he strapped four large cans (each held about five gallons) to the sides of his donkey to carry water to us. There were water sources closer to town, but since those small ponds were used by many for washing clothes and watering animals, and we suspected the waste from the back yards of homes without outhouses ended up there, too,...

  4. Brazil Saving Water

    In the sertão ---the hinterland of northeastern Brazil ---there were years when it didn't rain at all. And even if it did, there was no running water, so people either had to carry water from a nearby dam or pay someone to do that or they might build a cisterna in the back yard to save rain water.  The ceramic-tile roofs were perfect for gathering water, for the rain ran to edge of the roof where it dropped into metal gutters that eventually carried the water to the cisterna which might be 12...

  5. Brazil Quadrilha

    For São João (St John's Day) in June, the high school students and other young people performed a quadrilha (square dance) for the citizen's of Glória.  It was a fun event. Everyone dressed up like a Brazilian hillbilly. We took weeks to prepare and practice the moves.   São João was celebrated as the beginning of winter ---the rainy growing season.   My students ranged in age from 12 to 44. The high school had been in existence only 3 years when I arrived. The small girl wearing red tights w...

  6. Niger Streets of Lido

    THE STREETS OF LIDO Joel Neuberg July 16, 2011   At the end of the 1968 rainy season, I moved into the recently abandoned Jack Saunders residence in Lido, Niger. Jack abandoned the house, a two-room adobe brick thatch-roofed African hut with a mud floor, because he was extending for a third year to ensure the success of his plan to bring democracy and a form of literacy to the peanut markets of the farmers’ cooperatives in our part of West Africa. He had a car, a little French Deux Ch...

  7. Niger Tombola

    TOMBOLA NATIONAL Joel Neuberg July 15, 2011   The California Lottery is, of course, a tax on the poor (and foolish and desperate) to benefit the rich (and the would-be-richer), but the taxers in Cal and Texas could learn a lot from their counterparts in the Republic of Niger of the 1960s. The national lottery in Niger (Tombola National) had a simple system for raising revenue, selling all the tickets it prints, and assuring nationwide income from people who have even less hope of winn...

  8. Niger Comes A Horseman

    COMES A HORSEMAN Joel Neuberg July 11, 2011   I once owned three horses. When I arrived to begin two years service as a Peace Corps volunteer in the village of Guecheme, Niger (West Africa) in the summer of 1967, I discovered I had inherited a house, a houseboy, and a horse. The house was a substantial mud brick structure with a cement floor and a corrugated iron roof. The downside to the house was that it was a school building about a quarter mile from the main village in a low lyi...

  9. Brazil Flamed

    When I arrived at my Peace Corps site and discovered I would be living without electricity or running water, it seemed like my life there would be much like a two-year-long camping trip. I had been a Girl Scout. I was prepared ---or so I thought. I admit that it was fun for a while, using my Girl Scout skills and learning new ones to get along in the harsh environment, but after a while, I missed many of the conveniences of home. On one occasion, forgetting that things didn’t work in Glória t...

  10. Brazil Glória 1967 and 1969

      The Praça da Bandeira in the middle of Glória changed significantly over the two years I served there.   In the first photo, less than a month after my arrival, students marched in the 7 de Setembro (Independence Day) parade.  The concrete poles (you can see the ends of them stacked in the town square) were there in anticipation of full-time electricity that would be powered up before I left Brazil.   In the second photo, taken just a few days before my departure, my student Idalecinho sits...

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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.