Communications
Navigation Bar Mailing address in Africa:
Scott is no longer in Africa. His service with the PC was cancelled due to some political issues occuring in Gabon.

Mailing address in USA:
Mark Fleming
c/o Scott Erik Fleming
10812 Forbes Creek Drive, #V302
Kirkland, WA 98033

Email address: sfleming@ketharsis.com
Note: Hopefully I will get a direct email account in Gabon, if I can't all emails will be printed out by my brother and sent to Gabon by snail mail.

I love to receive mail, so don't be shy (or lazy) about writing. Receiving your letters will help me to maintain my sanity when I'm half a world away from family and friends, especially in the context of such demanding and unfamiliar living conditions.

Mail takes a minimum of two weeks to reach Gabon and replies to your letter will take at least that long. Unfortunately, mailing letters and packages to Africa can be a risky proposition, but that's no reason not to do it. Assuming that the item even makes it to the Continent in the first place there is always the possibility that some postal workers may choose to 'supplement' their meager incomes by confiscating the contents of my packages. Therefore, some extra care and discretion is in order when you choose to mail me anything. (Note : Scott found out that it's actually better to NOT send a box, but to put the contents of a box in several padded envelopes. Boxes basically say "steal me!" - Mark)

I'm happy to respond to letters from people I don't know or potential Peace Corps volunteers who want an honest appraisal of the Peace Corps within the limits of my particular experience.

So, in the spirit of international intrigue, here are some suggestions for mailing letters and packages passed on from fellow Peace Corps volunteers who have mastered the game.

  • If possible, send letters in an Aerogram envelope. If none are available label the front of the envelope with "Air Mail" and "Par Avion" in red ink.
  • Number all letters and packages, that way I'll know if there has been a break in sequence.
  • Write my name and address in CAPITAL LETTERS. Understandably, the Gabonese will be less than enthusiastic about deciphering cursive or any kind of cryptic chicken-scratch. Remember, if they can't read it, I won't get it.
  • Xerox your letters in case they don't get through. If at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again!
  • Do not send postcards, apparently they end up taped to the walls of the local post office.
  • If you are sending a care package or anything of significant value label the package 'Feminine Hygiene Products' (Yes, I'm serious about this!). Apparently that little trick tends to disturb the curious, albeit squeamish, hands and eyes enough to perhaps find 'safer' things to rifle through.
  • Wrap the package securely with tape…an entire roll should do the trick.
  • If you are sending money buy a box of film, empty one of the film canisters, stick the money inside and put back in box. Or, send a book along and insert the bills between the pages. Bake a cake and mix the money in with the batter…don't forget to include a metal file. A cloak and dagger mentality is essential!
  • Gabon is extremely hot and humid, as are most cargo holds, and many things will easily melt and/or get moldy.
  • DO NOT send anything that will get me in trouble with the local authorities or potentially malign my personal reputation within the local community.

TELEPHONE: I'm not sure how this will work out. From everything I've heard getting a line out from Gabon to the US is an ordeal. Word on the street is that Volunteers will often get together to make a call to the U.S., if a Volunteer is successful in getting a line out they will often tell the person to whom they are talking to call the parents (brother, sister, boy/girlfriend, etc.) that another Volunteer wants to talk to and gives them the number of the phone in Gabon that the other person is waiting by. So, don't be surprised if a stranger calls you in the middle of the night to let you know that, if you wish, I'm waiting by a phone for your call. I've done a bit of research and AT&T's rate averages $1.10 per minute. I guess we'll see how this goes.

Feeling big hearted? Are you itching to spend some of that pesky cash taking up space in your wallet? Here's some suggestions for things you might consider sending:

  • New music. I will have my portable CD player and I'm sure that anything you choose to send will be most appreciated. Classical music and mix tapes are always a safe bet.
  • Magazines and books; particularly those discussing philosophy, religion, architecture, science, astronomy and Time
  • Batteries (AA) for my CD player. I'm sure that I'll be going through those pretty damn fast.
  • Photographs (remember, nothing that may malign….).
  • Sweet stuff (whatever that may be!)

Finally, I'm a sentimental sap and look forward to receiving your letters. Five minutes of your time scratching out a few lines will have a much larger impact on my day-to-day existence than you can imagine. I thank you in advance.

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY you should contact the Office of Special Services in Washington D.C., the telephone numbers are 1-800-424-8580 Extension 2289 or 2285. After working hours call 1-202-638-2574 - ask for the Peace Corps Duty Officer.

You can also call Peace Corps Gabon directly:

Country Office: 73.33.33 or 73.31.10
Country Office FAX: 73.84.70
PC Medical Unit: 73.66.19
US Embassy Medical Unit: 73.96.70
PC Medial Unit FAX: 73.95.12
PC Training Center: 73.20.99
Gabon In-Country Director, Frank Conlon: 73.33.33 Extension 11