Monday, September 7, 2009

First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life by Eve Brown-Waite

Book Description:
In this laugh-out-loud funny memoir, a pampered city girl falls head over little black heels in love with a Peace Corps poster boy and follows him -”literally -“to the ends of the earth.

Eve Brown always thought she would join the Peace Corps someday, although she secretly worried about life without sushi, frothy coffee drinks and air conditioning. But with college diploma in hand, it was time to put up or shut up. So with some ambivalence she arrives at the Peace Corps office,€sporting her best safari chic attire -“to casually look into the steps one might take if one were to become a global humanitarian, a la Angelina Jolie. But when Eve meets John, her dashing young Peace Corps recruiter, all her ambivalence flies out the window. She absolutely must join the Peace Corps - and win John's heart in the process. Off to Ecuador she goes and - after a year in the jungle - back to the States she runs, vowing to stay within easy reach of a decaf cappuccino for the rest of her days.

But life had other plans. Just as she's getting reacquainted with the joys of toilet paper, John gets a job with CARE and Eve must decide if she's up for life in another third world outpost. Before you can say, "pass the malaria prophylaxis," the couple heads off to Uganda, and the fun really begins-if one can call having rats in your toilet fun. Fortunately, in Eve's case one certainly can, because to her, every experience is an adventure to be embraced and these pages come alive with all of the alternatively poignant and uproarious details.

With wit and candor, First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria chronicles Eve's misadventures as an aspiring do-gooder. From intestinal parasites to getting caught in a civil war, culture clashes to unexpected friendships, here is an honest and laugh-out-loud funny look at the search for love and purpose,”from a woman who finds both in the last place she expected.

I really did enjoy reading this book, even though it took me forever to do it! Buying it on Kindle with every intention of reading it while working out at the gym, I thought I'd breeze through it! Ahem, not exactly, since I haven't been to the gym in over a month! But, I finally decided, I've just got to get into it and finish it, which I did today!

I have a few personal reasons for picking this book up, one is I have a sister who was in the Peace Corps in Iran (to be with the man she wanted to marry and the only way they could go together was if they were married) and I have a "do-gooder" niece who has been all over, not unlike Eve, first in S. America, then in Africa (with the man she loves) and now in India! I found there were many similarities in this book to my niece's story, and I wonder just how many Peace Corps and CARE volunteers really join up because they are head over heels in love and want to go for that reason!

I did laugh out loud reading Eve's memoirs, for one thing, she is the same age as me, and I could so relate, she even got married around the same time I did, and she had her first child the same year I did! I knew where her head was at, despite that I was living in suburban NJ, and she was living in the middle of nowhere in Uganda! This was a great book to give you insight as to what it's like for a city girl in America to suddenly go live in near poverty stricken lands, where no one speaks your language and danger is a way of life. When Eve first goes to Ecuador on her own, it's a bit frightening to her, and she eventually must leave due to the fact she nearly falls apart after a friend is raped and she must come to terms with her own memories of being molested, which she had repressed her whole life. Still, that is a minor part of the story, the main part is her love for John, her Peace Corps poster boy who she marries and goes to Africa with. John - or Saint John as she affectionately refers to him as, was born to be in the Peace Corps or some other similarly humanitarian type of world organization, and Eve willingly goes wherever he leads.

Their life in Uganda is different to say the least. They become friends with many other expats and live in the bush, hardly any electricity or running water, yet they play badminton and tennis daily and drink gin and tonics to keep the malaria away (although Eve still manages to come down with it.) We see Eve change from a total scaredy cat ninny who can't do anything on her own to an experienced young woman and mother who can host a dinner party, buy a fish in a busy marketplace and entertain her inlaws all in one day! Doesn't sound like much, but it's quite a feat in Arua, which is really a dirtwater town. The book is filled him humorous anecdotes and I totally could relate to Eve's squeamishness and fear of many things, as well as her woes as a young mother or the many different smells associated with living it up in the rough during a drought! Thank God she had her husband John and many friends and servants to help her. By the end of their three years in Uganda, she didn't want to leave and it was in her blood (along with the malaria.)

This was a departure for me, but I'm glad I read it to get an eyeful of what it's like living in a third world country. It makes you realize it's possible, yet it also really makes you realize just how poor and behind the times these countries are, and what a long way to go they have to catch up with the rest of the world - or whether it's ever going to be possible. So much of what we take for granted in the West is an absolute luxury in a third world country - this book really points it out and brings it home.

Give this book a try, it's an entertaining read and all true. I'm sure if I had been reading it in regular book form, I would have raced through it, it goes pretty fast, and Eve is very likable and unpretentious as is her writing, not a bit holier than thou or preachy - she's a natural!



Patti said...

Having friends who are Ugandan, and visiting that country myself in 2005, I think I'm going to run out and grab this book. You've sparked my interest - I'd like to read her story.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Patti - oh yes, you'd be very interested. Eve and her husband lived there in the early to id '90's, as much as it was a real eye opener, it was funny too, Eve is the first to admit that she had a hard time adjusting to life in Africa!

Blodeuedd said...

This sounds like a fun book :)
Loving the cover and title, this one for sure goes to my TBR pile

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Blodeuedd - I loved the cover too!

Danni said...

I have an award waiting for you at my blog! :)

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