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Re: [N Tx Peace Corps] pros and cons

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  • Rob Solarion
    The rule of thumb in the PC, at least back when it was new and I was in it, was that Volunteers who worked as plumbers, for example, lived on the same amount
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 25, 2005
      Re: [N Tx Peace Corps] pros and cons
      The "rule of thumb" in the PC, at least back when it was new and I was in it, was that Volunteers who worked as plumbers, for example, lived on the same amount of money that local plumbers made every month.  I was a school teacher, and teachers were paid more than plumbers.  So I was paid more and had a higher standard of living than if I'd been there in community development to construct water systems.  Probably some of these "social levels" vary from country to country.

      Also, in my case I was stationed in a resort city -- Massaua, The Venice Of Africa! Pearl Of The Red Sea!  It was an Italian-built, popular, seacoast city, with nearby islands, long sandy beaches, cabarets and nightclubs, coral reefs, waterskiing on the sea itself.  I couldn't have asked for a better assignment, and I did indeed ask for it.  I figured that /any/ city on the seacoast would be "fun".  The trouble was that it is officially the hottest inhabited city on the planet, and only one other Volunteer besides me dared to live there.  But to say that we "lucked out" is an understatement.  Afternoon temps regularly hit 130 degrees.  The US Army had a small outpost there.  One afternoon they recorded an alltime high of 165 degrees, and I kid you not.  The whole city shut down from 11-3 each day.  TOO HOT!  So we taught school 8:30-11:30 and 3-4:30 each day.

      Don't laugh, but I had a 4-bedroom Italian villa, with a salon and library, by a secluded cove of the Red Sea, with a refrigerator, running water and electricity 24 hours a day.  It was one of the most unusually beautiful houses I've ever seen, perfectly designed for living in such a hot climate.  It had rooms within rooms with windows that looked out onto larger rooms, windows which could be shuttered if a storm passed through.  Overhead fans everywhere, even in the shower.  And I had a fulltime maid and cook.  And it was ANIMAL HOUSE every weekend!  You wouldn't believe some of the stories I could tell, including the time that a drunk Ethiopian sailor sneaked in a back window and tried to rape a pretty Volunteer from Asmara, who was staying in the front bedroom with her passed-out boyfriend in the cot next to her.  Aie, Aie, Aie!  All hell broke loose that night!

      Why did I live like this?  Well, I got my refrigerator merely because of the heat and the "necessity" for refrigeration of foodstuffs.  The Italian villa had been passed down to me from previous Volunteers.  The PC let us have that villa because it was so spacious.  We were required, in turn, to allow any vacationing PCVs to stay there free.  By my second year, so many PCVs were coming to town, I had to put a sign on my front door, telling everybody if they weren't "specifically invited" to stay in my house, to go to one of the following hotels in town, and I provided a list.  You can get away with a lot of stuff in your second year.

      In many ways, my life as a Peace Corps Volunteer resembled that of Tom Hanks in VOLUNTEERS, one of my alltime favorite movies.  If you haven't seen it yet, run don't walk to the nearest Blockbuster!  Regards, Roberto

      The level of fulfillment and satisfaction fairly frequently is in reverse proportion to amenities and standard of living.  For example,  in my experience and by my observations, PC volunteers who do not have electricity (or running water) in Ecuador tended to be more happy than those who did by a noticeable but not huge margin, etc. 
      Other RPCVs:  agree or disagree?
      Ed Hromatka

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      Rob Solarion
      Northeast Texas

      Crossover Dreamtime Is Coming Again!  Where Will You Be?

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