Getting mail in the Peace Corps is the beautiful upside of being somewhere so remote. For me, getting a letter from someone feels so much more personal and meaningful than an email or a phone call. There’s something to be said about holding a letter sealed by a loved one, sensing their emotions through the curves of their handwriting, imagining where they might have sat when they spilt that bit of coffee on the page…
The lack of familiarity experienced when immersed in a foreign culture can on some days be disheartening. Like a lost ship in uncharted seas, Peace Corps life can make one feel adrift some days, just wishing to connect with someone who truly understands you. Any small parcel from home feels like a hand reaching across the Pacific and around my shoulders reminding me: you are known and you are loved. Especially in a culture where hugging is not quite the norm (and I don’t yet know many people who would be comfortable receiving all the bottled up hugs I’m dying to give), the feeling of intimacy that notes and parcels from home impart is appreciated and felt in a way that is hard to articulate.
I had one such moment of feeling deeply known and loved yesterday when I received my very first package here in Fiji yesterday from my sorely-missed cousin Breanna. Getting mail in Nabasovi is no simple endeavor! I worry enough about mail getting from the continental US to the South Pacific; getting to my tiny island is another feat in itself. Luckily, after over 5 weeks in transit my little piece of home arrived, the final leg of it’s trip being a bit like the children’s game telephone, except my package was the precious subject!
Among the awesome contents of the package were tea (Hazelnut Cookie & Emperor’s Chai!!), Taza Chocolate, the sister necklace to her favorite from India, a signed copy of The Signature of All Things, GOYA and Portuguese paparika. My cousin sure knows me well! Just a few days back I was dreaming of those paper packaged cocoa discs, and wishing I had Hazelnut Cookie tea left to wash them down with. I think I was also sitting in the blistering heat of church as this thought crossed my mind, which tells you how strong my craving was… What’s more, just yesterday morning I’d asked my aunt to send me Portuguese cooking spices because I’m needing a dose of my own native culture (in the form of spicy red sauces). Even in a far off land in the middle of the ocean I feel connected to home!
Tonight I shall sprawl out on my mat, reading over a steamy cup of chai and nibble on chipotle chili chocolate, imagining I am snowed in fire-side back in blistery New England, as you all back at home brave what I hear is supposed to be quite the Blizzard. This will be made especially easy thanks to the can of “authentic” snow that Breanna also included in my package.
So a big shout out to Breanna, package-sender-extraordinaire and soul sister, for fulfilling that innate need to feel known, missed and loved 🙂 The chocolate is nearly gone, but the warm fuzzies should last me at least until the next letter from home… Peace and love ya’ll!