Christmas at the Hut in Guinea, 1998

In 1998, I decided to spend Christmas at my hut in Banko, Guinea. As a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV), I had invites to go to larger cities to spend the holidays with other PCVs. Instead, I invited a couple of my friends from Peace Corps to have “Christmas in the Case.” (“Case” is French for “hut.”) I had to improvise some things to make it special.

I got a lot of packages from home, so I had gifts to give the kids who came to visit Santa. I had a tailor make a Santa outfit and a beard. When the time came, I invited the children of the people I knew to come have their photo taken with Santa.

My two PCV friends and I also made our own decorations. We took old plastic bags and cut them into the shape of Christmas lights. We tied them together with green string and hung them around the hut. They didn’t light up, which was fine. Real lights might have set the thatch roof on fire.

I took the lids from Nesquik cans and turned them into ornaments. Yes, I spelled “case” wrong, but I don’t think anyone cared. I found someone to crochet snowflakes. At least, I think it was me. All three of us brought Christmas stockings for each other, and I had t-shirts made to commemorate the whole celebration.

We ate turkey tetrazzini and other delicacies that family and friends sent from home in freeze-dried packaging for our special dinner. Having Christmas in the Case is a special memory from my Peace Corps experience. You can read more in my new book.

My Life in the Peace Corps: Letters from Guinea, West Africa” will be released on Dec. 28, 2020 in eBook format on Amazon. I will try to publish the paperback on Amazon about that same time. If you want to get it quickly, watch my Facebook page for a link. If you want an autograph, you can pre-order the paperback on As soon as I get some copies, I will sign them and send them out. This process will take longer than ordering directly from Amazon because I cannot order them ahead of time.