Reviewed D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974-76 and Costa Rica 1976-77)
Peter Loan served as a Peace Corps administrative officer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then known as Zaire) in the mid to late 1970s. This collection of short stories is based on his experiences there. “Land of Mobutu” in the title is a reference to President Mobutu who was in power in the time period in which these stories are set.
The author doesn’t say, but it seems obvious to me that all of these stories are based on real situations with the names and surrounding facts changed just enough to avoid embarrassment of the participants, lawsuits, and in one case, potential trouble with superiors in the US foreign service
The title story, “Fever”, involves a PCV who first becomes a hero by braving Ebola to assist a medical team from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), but later is found to also be a thief, stealing lab equipment, volunteer possessions and cash. The Zaire Peace Corps Health Program Director has to handle the whole situation, including sending the PCV home.
We PCVs often believe that Peace Corps staff lead very mundane lives, certainly compared to ourselves, but as Mr. Loan’s stories reveal, they too have days when life becomes more challenging and exciting!
In my own case, I will always be grateful for the quick response of El Salvador Peace Corps Agriculture Program Director Francisco “Chico” Rodriguez, who rescued me from potentially being arrested and hauled off to jail after a minor traffic accident!
These stories are well written and entertaining. I encourage you to read them and hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
D.W. Jefferson was a Peace Corps agriculture volunteer in El Salvador (1974-76) and Costa Rica (1976-77). A blog about his Peace Corps years is at: http://dwjefferson.blogspot.com He is currently retired from a career in computer software engineering.