CardStories: A gift of live chickens and a stalk of plantains

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I was a Peace Corps volunteer and had recently moved to post. My market was an hour away so I would go into town in the morning to give myself plenty of time to shop and walk back before it got too hot. One day, after buying my normal weekly provisions, I stopped to buy a pineapple from a woman with two toddlers sleeping at her feet. I asked if her kids were twins, which are sacred in my country of service, and she nodded. I pulled out a photo of me and my twin and she got so excited that she started yelling to everyone around us, “The foreigner is a twin!” While I answered her questions about my sister and ate the pineapple she gave me for free just for being a twin, more gifts from who-knows-where piled up at my feet. I wasn’t quite sure what was happening, but among other random items, I ended up with a stalk of plantains three feet tall and two live chickens.

I was so overwhelmed that I just thanked everyone, promised to bring more photos the following week, and stumbled off. (By that point, everyone knew what had happened and would have been offended if I hadn’t kept the gifts for myself, so lightening my load was not an option.)

I trudged back to village trying to juggle my overstuffed bag of groceries, a sack of things I didn’t need, an unwieldy branch more than half my size, and two chickens that, despite everyone’s advice to carry them upside down by their feet so they’d be docile, were still flapping and squawking hysterically. I eventually staggered into my host organization and announced that we would all be eating chicken and plantains. They only made me kill and pluck one chicken before I got to nap in the shade while they made lunch.

Lindsay G. worked a well-paying job for a few years out of college before quitting to join the Peace Corps. She now works for a health NGO in her Peace Corps country of service and will probably never make money again. She has no regrets yet…

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