Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Central Asia Proves Itself To, yet again, Be In The Middle of Nowhere

Let’s revisit First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria. My dad brought the book home for me after one of the acquisitions consultants at Audible recommended it upon hearing that I was planning on going into the Peace Corps. He told me that it was the kind of book that would make me not want to do the Peace Corps. Or at least…he was probably hoping that it was the kind of book that would make me not want to do the Peace Corps. In actuality, it makes me want to do the Peace Corps even more. Because you see…Eve, the author, quit. And I’m competitive. So I want to prove that I’m better than that. It makes me really want to do the Peace Corps, and not quit.

But here’s the thing…I can’t seem to get away from the constant reminders of how isolated Central Asia is. In the book, Eve ends up following her husband to Uganda. Without any background, she goes straight into talking about the affects of Idi Amin’s rule and dropping names of other African countries like the reader’s supposed to know exactly where they are relative to Uganda. Now maybe it’s a generational thing…but I had to Wikipedia Idi Amin the first time he was mentioned, because I had no idea exactly who he was or what the history of Uganda is. Yet, Eve treats it like it’s common knowledge. She even points out that the only things she knew about Uganda before going was about Idi Amin. Okay…just make me feel even more inept for having to Wikipedia him.

I would completely accept this as an oversight by an author too involved in a country to recognize what the average American is likely to know about it, if it weren’t for the fact that she ends up in Uzbekistan by the end of the book:

“When we returned to Kampala, John had several frantic messages from the Peace Corps. They desperately wanted to interview him for the job of Assistant Country Director in (now hold on to your hat and grab your atlas) Uzbekistan. In case you’re looking for it, Uzbekistan is in the souther part of what used to be the Soviet Union, near Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and Tajikstan.”

Gee…that’s great…even the world traveler and international volunteer extraordinaire Eve Brown-Waite has never heard of Central Asia. That’s awesome. On a slightly awesomer note however…the Peace Corps has Country Director jobs? Do you think they have them for every country? Would it be possible for me to go straight from my service into Country Director?? And just like…never leave??

And on another happy note, First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria ends with a letter that Eve wrote home from Uzbekistan:

“We recently received three interesting pieces of news in the mail. One was from the State Department warning about the unsafe conditions for Americans in the West Bank; one was a news article about rioting in Yerevan, Armenia, along with a State Department warning to all Americans living in Armenia; and the third was a news article from The New Vision, whose headline read: ‘Rebels Invade CARE office in Arua.’ Bet you’re glad that we’re in Uzbekistan!”

Great! Central Asia sounds safe!

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