Pursuit of Happiness…in Peace Corps

Yesterday after wrapping up my trip to the market I stopped to talk to a piki (motorcycle taxi) driver I know, not to arrange transportation because riding a piki is in direct violation of Peace Corps (PC) rules, and I would NEVER break a PC rule, but I digress. Anywho I went to chat with Richard and one of his friends said in Kiswamianglish (a mix of kiswahili, kisamia and english) that I always looks happy.

I am happy.

More commonly than not you will find that complaining is a PCVs favorite pastime and I’m saying that judgement free. Familiarity is comfort and we have decided to move to an area void of familiarity. What is familiar is when we get together, reminisce on American traditions and the comfort of knowing that we aren’t the only ones who consider some behaviors here strange.

Complaining is like Ebola, it’s airborne and it liquefies your organs until you’re bleeding from every orifice.

I’ve even caught the bug a time or two and let me tell you I have NOTHING to complain about…so it comes out like “It’s so hard to cook for one person” “The cabbage that I spent $.08 went bad cause I could only eat half” “I can only buy chocolate in the big city” “The ATM wasn’t working today” “How am I going to carry all this stuff I bought?” “I’ve been waiting for my custom made furniture for 2 weeks now, when will it be ready?”…yell I’m rolling my eyes at my self too.

Complaining is a luxury and I feel like something needs to really happen to you before you can access that ability. If it has, then feel free to vent if not…(what am I trying to say)…be quiet or at least admit that you’re being ridiculous.

What I’ve found is (prepare for an earth shattering revelation that I will call my personal opinion) whatever sadness you’re feeling grows exponentially after a good complaining session. Focusing on the bad things makes you feel bad and having someone agree that there is validity in your complaint gives that thing more fuel. Don’t let rotting cabbage ruin 2 years. Now if you were woken up because your neighbor is beating the ish out of his wife and child then please cash in one of those luxurious complaint cards with your nearest PCV.

Now, I’m writing this having been at site for 1 month and I’m very much in the honeymoon phase and desperately trying to make this honeymoon last for 2 years.  I have been warned that it will not, if it doesn’t then I may revisit this topic to see what my enlightened mind has to say about it.

– A very happy PCV

*Note: I think it’s important to mention that I am a black volunteer in Africa and I receive a very reduced amount of annoying behavior. As suggested below I’ll discuss more on that at a later date.



  1. I follow you on tumblr and I caught this posting. I am in Tanzania right now. And I agree with you. Your sunny disposition will carry you far. I’m sure. Just embracing all of the experience and acknowledging that the good comes with the bad is great. I though I was being ridiculous for attempting to pack a mini Walgreens for my trip. But three weeks in I have used every item: bug spray, Tylenol, Nyquil, etc. Lol. It has been quite an adjustment but I feel blessed to be here having this experience and that trumps everything else. Thanks for the reminder and the encouragement.

    And my friends thought I was funny for making up the word Swanglish. Ha! 🙂

    I hope you enjoy every bit of your experience as I attempt to do the same here in Zanzibar.

    Kwa heri.


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