An engaging, if sometimes overly earnest account of a mother's two-week visit with her Peace Corps-volunteer son in a remote Colombian village. Taken aback when Richard suddenly announced that he was dropping out of college to join the Corps and do veterinary work in Colombia's highlands, widow Sanders was agog when she first set foot in MistratÃ³, the--to her--backward, gritty little town where Richard had been assigned, a ""hair shirt"" site if there ever was one, The Texas mother had never been out of the country before when, a year into his tour, Richard invites her to visit. Her first impressions are predictable: bold hookers, yukky food, wild bus rides. In MistratÃ³ Richard instructs her in practical politics, and she meets every V.I.P. in a precise pecking order. She learns about them (the doctor needs a microscope to fight disease; the padre shows John Wayne and gangster movies to draw an audience for his educational films; a progressive Indian chief wants to build a school) and about their problems from Richard, who explains native customs, superstitions, and other curiosities at the raise of an eyebrow. She slowly gets used to making do with what's available for food, copes with the nearly nonexistent sanitation, has a few mild adventures with town characters, and departs with a fuller appreciation of Richard and a new awareness that life isn't all middle-class American. Nothing new here, but Sanders' adaptations to the hills are occasionally amusing and her moment of gringo epiphany quietly uplifting.