We've heard of people doing all sorts of crazy things for love, but author Eve Brown-Waite might just have them all beat. Thought moving across the country to be closer to your girlfriend was bold?Try packing up your cushy New York life to join the Peace Corps, all in the hopes of winning over your dreamy, do-gooder recruiter. That's precisely how Brown-Waite, who is decidedly more Banana Republic than Birkenstock, finds herself heading to Ecuador for a year-thousands of miles away from the charmer who'd inspired her to give up her cappuccino-filled lifestyle in the first place.
In First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria (Broadway Books, $23.95), the unlikely peacenik narrates her experiences during her Ecuadorian stint with wit and sass. The recently released memoir could have easily devolved into cliché fish-out-of-water chick-lit fare, but Brown-Waite is no Chanel-toting, mascara-coated bimbo who lands up in the jungle only to embark on a series of over-the-top encounters and misunderstandings. Instead, she's a hard worker and fast learner, dedicated to helping these communities, struggling to understand them while she tries to better understand herself.
Brown-Waite does ultimately marry her target, John, and the happy couple settles down in a lovely three-bedroom house with a fence, a baby, and a dog. Sounds like the quintessential American dream-except this one takes place in Uganda. Which means this version of wedded bliss also comes with exotic bugs, rebel warfare, three hours of electricity a day, an army of servants, and, of course, malaria.
Between recounting her hilarious experiences-encountering a rat in her toilet; running all over Uganda trying to find a doctor who will tell her if she's pregnant or not-and some not-so-amusing ones-getting hit with both malaria and dysentery in her first trimester; being held hostage in her own home by a crazy, drunk, gun-toting security guard-Brown-Waite vividly describes the vibrant culture of the rural, overlooked town that quickly becomes home. When it's time to leave because of the growing unrest in the region, the family is sad to go.
First Comes Love is a quick, fun, and eye-opening read-Brown-Waite delivers a surprisingly deep and culturally sensitive insight into life in the developing world. And with the family heading off to Uzbekistan for their next assignment just as the book ends, we're already looking forward to the inevitable sequel.
Sarah Khan is a copy editor at Travel + Leisure.