Just Keep Pedaling is a fast-paced book about life in a slow-paced town. Connie Ness was the first and only PCV to live in the tiny pueblo of Baltasar Brum in Uruguay, the second-smallest country in South America.
Ness writes honestly about her conflicted feelings toward the rewards and disappointments of living and working in a culture with different ideas on time and personal responsibility, and about the frustration and isolation of trying to communicate in a different language. In the end she discovered, as so many Peace Corps volunteers do, that doing service work in a developing country is not a one-way street. Her time in Uruguay was a soft clash of cultures, with a little bit of each rubbing off on the other.
With over 80 photos of life and work in Uruguay, reading Connie Ness’s engaging account is like listening to a friend who just returned from a two-year adventure.
Connie Ness was in grade school in Fargo, North Dakota, when John F. Kennedy started the Peace Corps. The idea of helping people while living an adventure in a different land stuck with her through high school and college, where she earned a degree in English, and continued while working several marketing jobs in corporate America.
In 1994, at age 45, she joined the Peace Corps and worked as a business consultant in a pueblo of 2,000 in the interior of Uruguay. After her service, she took her own advice and went into business for herself as a freelance writer. She wrote marketing, sales, and promotional materials for business.
When the pandemic put a stop to life as usual, she took advantage of the downtime to finally write the book about her Peace Corps experience — 25 years after leaving Uruguay. Now she works as a certified SOAR specialist, a program designed to help eligible people who are homeless get Social Security disability benefits.
Just Keep Pedaling: A Peace Corps Volunteer in Uruguay
By Connie Ness (Uruguay 1994-96)
$12.95 (Paperback), $6.50 (Kindle)