March 1, 2002

Dad, Mom and Little One,

I made it!!! I am in the Manda Wilderness and oh my god it is beautiful!

I don't even know where to begin. The lake looks like the ocean, with waves, but is fresh water so after swimming you feel all clean and fresh and not sticky and salty. I have the most beautiful chalet! You would not believe!!! It is one of the guest houses and much more luxurious than the other places. The bed is massive and curtained by a mosquito net, everything is made out of natural materials, absolutely gorgeous!

With no running water, they are really creative about the showers and sinks. The sink is just a bucket with a small hole in it that you plug and unplug to turn it on and off; gravity takes care of the rest. The shower is the same, but with many little holes. It overlooks the lake. It is pretty much like showering right in the open, which is lovely, and I can sing as loud as I want. The birds don't complain:)

Yes, birds. Big ones, little ones. Plus, tons of funny colored lizards, and insects, butterflies, butterflies, butterflies!!! I have seen no big animals yet, or snakes - warning they’re poisonous!!

Really everything is great. The food is fantastic, fresh, real hardy home cooking - yum, yum. We had chicken and beans last night with fresh bread and coffee for dessert:) No, Mom, not espresso:(

What else, what else? Haven't got a mosquito bite yet, knock on wood, and the burn is hurting less and less. Oh, you know the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver?... well it is a great one to have out here. Perfect for the area, plus everyone here just finished it. Good things to talk about, and of course I am learning a lot - everywhere I turn!!!

I could write forever, but I gotta run and have drinks with the crew and watch the sunset. It could be quite dramatic with another storm coming in. About two/three storms pass each day. It's amazing!!!!

I love you and miss you all very much. I wish you could see this amazing place. Patrick is doing VERY good things out here! He really knows what he is doing, and I am proud to be a part of it. Tomorrow at 8am we start work, or at least discuss the aims. Already I have a huge stack of guide books I must learn so I can teach them! I am soooooooo excited!!!

All my love,
Shauna

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