Yes, ten thousand miles and more than a few close calls later, I’d worn out a pair of boots, sun bleached out a pair of blue jeans and seen most of the island from its cool, dark-leather seat.
No wonder they didn’t want you to have transport. In just a few months, combined with all I’d learned during my unique position in training, I’d also learned most of what I’d really needed to know about my stay in the Peace Corps in Jamaica. Had they told me the truth, I might not have come at all.
For example, several trips around the island told me what the other volunteers in my group were doing. Most had found something they were interested in and either filled or created and filled a niche for themselves. Like me, none was doing exactly what they’d been trained for. One, for example, had become a guidance counselor, another was working at a child-care facility, and still another was teaching some academic course in a high school. My only trip to Kingston to meet and report to my immediate supervisor left me rummaging around a Ministry office when everyone was out to lunch.
That particular day I remember I did a little fearless sleuthing, found and read the files on a few of the previous years’ volunteer efforts, in particular the one in my parish. No wonder they weren’t anxious to create or use a record of what had been done before, I thought to myself.
It had been one failure after another and the program, for all intents and purposes, looked like it might be one that was just being held open, so that the people in the Ministry could keep their jobs, and maintain the Peace Corp’s financial connection. At that point, I have to confess, my confidence in the Peace Corps was for the most part gone all together and I would soon be gone, the same way.
“Don’t say anything bad,” that young woman, sitting in the Kingston Peace Corps office, had warned me.
“No, of course not,” I’d answered her. Little did I know I was soon to become a legend, and after all, what could a legend say that was bad?