Tubob: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps
So many times over the years I have thought to write about this fascinating, but often frustrating experience. Finally, the time seemed right and once I started, the words flowed–I could barely keep up. I had as research material all the letters we’d written home to our families. Reading those letters served as journals as we shared our day-to-day experiences. As I read the letters, I relived our experiences, could feel the heat, could appreciate our good friends among the Gambians and expatriates, could feel myself getting anxious about getting the job done despite all the obstacles.
Arriving in The Gambia, West Africa, a life-long dream begins to unfold. So does sweltering heat, droves of mosquitoes and flies, and a myriad of situations for which Mary and Bruce Trimble are unprepared. As newlyweds, they are told the Peace Corps experience can either break or make a marriage. They slog through training, learn a tribal language, begin their introduction to cultural differences, and wonder about the work they will be doing for the next two years. Africans call them “Tubobs,” strangers, and everywhere they turn, their strangeness becomes apparent. It’s a daily struggle to fit in, to feel “at home,” and to make a difference in a country so vastly unlike America.
Finally, on their own, 250 miles upriver from the capitol city, they find their niche; Mary as a record-keeper at a small bush hospital and Bruce as a mechanical advisor for a well-digging project. Living in The Gambia is an incongruous experience blending ancient and modern. Humor is abundant, but so is misery. The couple form deep friendships among the Gambians, other Peace Corps volunteers and with expatriates from other helping agencies.
Near the end of their two-year term, the Trimbles find themselves caught up in a violent coup and seek refuge in an unfamiliar house with 116 other people.
Tubob: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps is a memoir. It’s true, the Peace Corps can break a marriage or make it a lasting commitment to friendship, support and adventure.
Sights and sounds of The Gambia
What others are saying about Tubob: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps:
”Not many award-winning American novelists respond with a smile of recognition when referred to as “tubob.” Mary E. Trimble views this as such a treasured term she titles her new book, a memoir, Tubob: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps.
”A couple of tubobs is what they were, Mary and her husband, Bruce, during the two years they spent in The Gambia. Mary kept records in a health center; Bruce supervised a well-digging project: learning experiences for both. What makes Tubob an engrossing read, however, is watching people meeting people. Mary shares the stories and Bruce the photographs in this fascinating, fast-paced memoir.”
— Gloria MacKay, author of Chalk Dustings
”Select the right place on the planet, and you can have it all – throbbing tribal drums, heat like a wood-fired oven, incoming mortar rounds. Mary E. Trimble discovered such a place in The Gambia, West Africa, where she and her husband, Bruce, served two fascinating, frustrating years with the American Peace Corps. Tubob is their story.
”Trimble introduces us to the remarkably resourceful people of this sweltering, impoverished country. She whisks us inside the house of horrors that was the Gambian hospital where she worked. And she candidly shares with us her insider’s view of the Peace Corps in this struggling land, which can be quite a revelation. Trimble, an accomplished novelist, turns her skillful hand to a true story with this personal memoir. You’ll be glad you read her book.”
— Robert H. Mottram, author of In Search of America’s Heartbeat
”Tubob: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps is a true story of immense beauty, love, and frustration. . . . From page one, I was captivated and anxiously followed this unforgettable journey.”
— Mary Ann Hayes, author of Adeline
In-depth review by Story Circle Book Reviews: