You don't write anymore

May 14, 2005

My mother and father have both cleaned their respective apartments of late and sent me packages of old photo albums and folders of letters I’ve written to them over the years. Those letters include many that I sent home during our Peace Corps service in Vanuatu. Last night I reached for one dated Wednesday, April 15, 1998 (it seems like just yesterday, but has it really been seven years?):

Dear Mom, The sun has set, we’ve eaten a pizza and showered, and I’m sitting before a kerosene lamp listening to the 7th-grade students (all who board on campus) sing their nightly hymns before going to sleep. The crickets, too, are chirping their evening devotion. We on Paama have much to be thankful for! ... Last week, I walked back from Lulep Village, which is on the other side of Paama; I’d taken a motoboat ride there, and was ferried to shore in a dugout canoe in between large sets of waves. .. I spent the day wandering Lulep and gazing at Lopevi Volcano – still active and always a danger – and hiked back up and over the hills. When I got back home a guy came over and relayed the message that you had called about the hurricane. I hope you understood the Bislama. We are safe, but other Volunteers on other islands had their houses fall down around them.

At lunch today (see next post), Chris Ormsby, a fellow RPCV, mentioned to me that he wrote far fewer letters than he did when he was a Volunteer. “There’s just not as much interesting stuff happening each day,” he said; certainly the foreign locations we served in as Volunteers gave us much to write home about.

Chris’s remark and my parents’ files of old letters are a good reminder that letter writing is an important social function. Since I returned from Vanuatu, I’ve used this weblog, dubbed the Coconut Wireless, as a way to write a group letter to my family, my friends and the rest of the world. Still, wouldn’t you like to get a personal letter from me, or anyone, in your next mail delivery?

Anton Zuiker

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