Life in the Peace Corps Diaries

10 Apr

Tarariras, Uruguay - Abandoned Train Station - Peace Corp Volunteer

These are several excerpts from my diaries in the Peace Corps.  I was a Natural Resources Volunteer in the town of Tarariras, Uruguay, South America in early 1990.

Peace Corps Diaries – Fire

While in the Peace Corps I was sitting in my little Uruguayan home staring through the door of my “salamandra” (wood burning stove) into the glowing, bright flames of the fire, it was very tranquil and quiet as I sat there listening to the music of the fire crackling, popping and humming as the cold outside breeze sucked the smoke away through the tin pipe. I sat wondering why we humans are so mesmerized by fire. I don’t suppose I know a single person who doesn’t like to sit around a blazing or quiet fire and listen to stories, sing songs or simply gaze and ponder. Maybe it’s such an amazingly complex and yet simple phenomena that boggles and hypnotizes the mind, fills the eyes with wonder and warms the heart with romance. Maybe it is because it’s such a hungry phenomena, in fact, insatiable.

Peace Corps Diaries – Baseball.. Sort Of

I teach a group of kids baseball on Tuesday afternoons. They’re extremely enthusiastic and we have a wonderful time, although we’re still at a crude similarity of the grand old game. We have a beat up old baseball, a homemade bat carved by a local carpenter, bases sewn by one of the kid’s mother and a marked lack of mitts.  A few boys smack the ball pretty hard, which creates a slight problem with the lack of mitts.  The fielders sacrifice their bodies jumping in front of the soaring canon ball.  I’m waiting for somebody to drop dead from a blow to the head one day.  Nobody else seems to worry.  One day, after a meeting with a group of school children about local environmental issues, I stop at my house and grab a frisbee.  I like to use games and sport to teach the “team” concept.  Imagine 25 kids playing frisbee, 10 playing baseball and 5 playing soccer in a field the size of a little league baseball diamond.  Boys and girls running, jumping, throwing, catching and kicking, soccer balls bouncing, frisbee flying and a baseball ricocheting.  Confusion, insanity and a giant accident waiting to happen, nothing much about “team concept”.  Though it’s a good life lesson.

Peace Corps Diaries – The Baker Solves the Countries Problems

“Uruguay needs to lose a war against the United States”, a local baker in Tarariras concluded to me the other day.  He was convinced it would solve all of their economic woes.  He went on to explain how both Germany and Japan prospered greatly after such a loss.  Although, after thinking about it a little more, he worried there was one whole in his plan of going to war against the United States… “What happens if we win?”, he wondered.

A Uruguayan writer/journalist, Eduardo Galeano, I admire wrote several books of short quips, anecdotes, that transcended typical genres and I enjoyed them very much.  My stories from the Peace Corps are these types of short shorts and semi anecdotal.  I hope you like them – KV

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