A true tragedy

It happened to me. Every current Peace Corps Volunteer’s worst nightmare just happened to me. My external hard drive broke. Initially, I was shocked. Then the denial set in. I pulled out my toolkit and my tweezers and got to work. It couldn’t be broken! My whole life was in that little terabyte! That failed. Next came the despair. I sat on the floor and ate the rest of my freshly made coconut chocolate chip banana loaf, staring blankly at the wall. Then withdrawal. I gasped for air as my mind grappled with the thought of all the lost movies, books, pictures, music, tv shows, and workout videos I couldn’t use. They were gone, just beyond my reach, hidden in this tiny black puzzle box that had made itself completely and utterly inaccessible. I paced. I ate gummy worms. I laid on the floor. I sweat. I thought about crying. I paced some more. I ate some chips. I laid on the floor again. I stared at the ceiling. I went to the bathroom and washed my face. Then I sat down on the couch, picked up my book, and moved on with my life. I’m not going to say I’ve reached the liberation phase yet, but I have to believe it will come.

All sarcasm aside, this was actually a somewhat devastating event. It’s quite strange – in the states, I didn’t have a television, I hardly ever went to the movies, and my hard drive was just a security tool used to backup important documents. Here in Mozambique however, a PCV is lost without their hard drive. It’s our connection to the United States, it’s a source of entertainment, it’s a way to pass the time and escape the third-world for a little bit. I went from a person who never cared about media to a person who brought my hard drive everywhere for the sole purpose of trading books and yoga videos and stocking up on the latest episodes of all the tv shows I had never watched in the first place.

Before joining the Peace Corps, I completely embraced the idea of living simply; I looked forward to it. I didn’t expect running water or electricity or internet or any regular connection to the “modern” world. I thought of this as my chance to disconnect and escape from the stress of American society, to learn more about myself and see what I’m made of. As soon as I got here, I found myself clinging to every relic of my former life, and my hard drive was the cornucopia. I think this is a good thing. I think it’s God reminding me of what I came here to do. I’m not here to teach lessons then go back to my house and hide behind my computer. I’m here to forge relationships, make a difference, get out into the community, share my knowledge, and learn about a different way of life. The newest season of Modern Family is not going to help me do that. When I think about what Peace Corps used to be like – before internet, before computers, before cell phones and atm cards and all the conveniences I have now, I feel ridiculous.

I will survive without my hard drive, and I may be better off for it.

A note to all my fellow PCV’s: Please do not interpret any sort of holier than thou tone in this blog post. Obviously, I am trying to assuage my despair. If you feel so moved to give me an unused USB full of your workout videos and books (formatted for Kindle plz), I would not deny your generosity. Also, does anyone have season two of Once Upon a Time?



  1. Oddly enough, I have the same problem – my external hard drive crashed sometime ago and I am trying not to be crushed if I never see the pictures and hear the music again that was in the external hard drive. But I will be disappointed because they represented so many good memories. The hard drive is a lot more than just an electronic device – it’s the storage of memories.

    (I do think I can get it fixed and retrieved the files – I’m just not sure how much I’m willing to pay for it)

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