Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Peace Corps Mail Run: 101

Hey Everyone!

Amy and I just got back into town after spending a good 5 days on the road, delivering mail, packages and supplies to anxious Peace Corps volunteers.

Now I'm sure you are all wondering, "So when I send my monthly letter to Mark out in Gambia, filling him in on all that I've been up to, since he does such a good job of keeping me updated on what he has been up to via his blog, how does it actually get to his little hut out in the middle of the bush?"

Well, lucky for you, here is a step-by-step process of how all that beef jerkey ends up at my door.

When mail and packages arrive from the States, they first end up at the Peace Corps P.O. Box in Banjul. Three times each week one of the drivers heads into Banjul to pick it up, and brings it all back to the Peace Corps office, where it sits in what we all call "the mail room." From there, everything is logged so that volunteers can see what, if anything, has arrived for them.

Typically, mail run heads out to start delivering on the third Friday of each month. That means whoever is going to be delivering that month's mail will spend Thursday prepping the mail and getting it packed and ready to go.

This means...

Step 1: Organizing the mail in people's mail boxes.

Step 2: Tackling the craziness that is the mail room,

and organizing it so that the mail is divided into which "day" (1-5) it will be delivered.

Step 3: Load everything into the truck. ("Load" is just puting it nicely. Really, we just need to make sure it all fits.)

NOTE: It can be a problem that some volunteers consider the mail run truck to be their own personal moving company, and often try to send beds, chairs, bikes, mattresses, gas stoves, tables... all at the same time.

NOTE: It can also be a problem that there is always that ONE volunteer who has a super important item to send out, but they don't let you know they have it to send out until the truck is already loaded.

Step 4: Head out at the crack of dawn on Friday morning, delivering firs to volunteers on the North Bank, before reaching Basse several days later and turning around to deliver mail to volunteers on the South Bank.

Step 5: Deliver mail, packages and whatever else has been sent out in the mail truck, to eagerly waiting volunteers.

Step 6: Enjoy the nicely paved north bank road!

Step 7: Brace yourself for all the bush roads!

Step 8: Enjoy the scenery of Gambia from the beauty of air conditioning!

Step 8: After a few days, reach the ferry crossing at Basse and head down to the South Bank.

Just waiting to cross the ferry.

Still just waiting to cross the ferry...

Step 9: Remember the good ole' days of the paved north bank road.

Step 10: Repeat step 6 for all the south bank volunteers.

Step 11: Beware of bush fires!

Step 12: Just enjoy the time on the road, getting to take in the sights of the Gambia with friends!

And that, my friends, is how all the letters, packages, and beef jerkey you send makes it to my front door.