Author’s note: This is a new version of an earlier story. I appreciate your feedback. Please note that this story has multiple pages. Click on the number at the bottom.
“We’ll be landing soon. Please fasten your seat belts.”
It was the pilot making an announcement. I open my eyes, sit upright and look out the airplane window. The plane has started to descend and it is low enough for me to see the ground below. The bright sunlight displays small city streets, mini vans and buses on unpaved roads spewing clouds of dirt. People walk along the streets with bundles on their head. An occasional ox cart makes its way forward slowly. The land looks plush with trees, water on one side and mountains on the other side, and for a moment it feels like being in Florida, if it weren’t for the mountains. I have reached Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa, on my mission to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. It’s going to be a culture shock for me — a new country, people alien in looks as well as mode of living, a language completely different from English. Am I going to survive? What will happen if I get sick or don’t like the food? I haven’t the faintest idea. When I was serving in Vietnam we followed orders without thinking. We moved together in a platoon and established close bonds. We cried when someone died in combat. I hope to have a challenging experience here and maybe find new friends.