from a snowy walk in the Rattlesnake, Missoula, Montana

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Strange Occurrences

Winter is coming! People often laugh in disbelief when we talk about how cold it gets in Botswana. Most assume that since it is in Africa (and all of Africa is hot of course) that it would never ever get cold here. Wrong. Big wrong. Botswana is one of the southern most countries in Africa and one of those Tropics cuts the country in half--since I never which I refer to it as “Cancercorn.” Houses, unlike houses in ‘Merica, are not insulated so when its 35 (degrees C or F) outside, it is most likely 35 (degrees C or F) inside. I should of started this when it was 35 C (but now that the weather is approaching 35 F) I shall start documenting things perhaps only PCVs find amusing (and talk about, a lot).

In honor of winter:

This week I bathed (fully submerged by body) two occasions and I used baby wipes on 5.
This week I consumed 9 cups of a hot beverage. 
This week I slept in my long-johns.
This week I only sweated walking to school once! 
This week I was in by bed by 7pm every day of the week because A-it was dark and B-it was cold. 

Now on the the blog...

One of the joys/ironies/difficulties/frustrations/realities of Peace Corps is that there are often situations that just leave you scratching your head. Things happen that you really cannot think about--for they are too strange or will just piss you off. A few of these things has happened in the past week....

Strange Occurrences Number 1: I have heard that villages will go through your trash. I remember laughing (more out of disbelief) when other PCVs talked about hoarding their alcohol bottles or anything personal inside their house since people go through your trash. First off, I hardly ever take out my trash. I have been dutifully given a collection of “black plastics” (black trash bags) by my landlord and instructed to just leave it by the “road.” Since “I stay alone” and my hoarding tendencies are getting slightly out of control, I don’t have a lot of trash. Lets just say that my black plastic has been collecting a few months worth of trash. I also, would like to admit right here and now, that yes, I do wash out my empty containers before putting them in the trash (I am that crazy these days). On Sunday I drag a very full black plastic out to the road, when I leave the house on Monday morning the trash was strewn about. Since I was in a hurry, I made a mental note to pick it up when I got home. When I came home, there were people going through my trash...They had to know that it was my trash--I mean who else would have a box of Velveeta Shells and Cheese?!?! 

It was one of those experiences that leave you feeling awashed with emotions. I was embarrassed, ashamed, upset, creeped out and felt a little violated. This was my trash! I didn’t know what to do--do you confront the women? Do you pretend like you didn’t see it? Do you pretend that its not your trash? I just pretended that I didn’t see them/it wasn’t mine. As I slunk into my house I watched from my window until they were gone and contemplated what to do. Then another women comes up. I was thinking, good god! I will have to sneak out of my house in the cover of the night to pick up the trash! Fortunately she was with the trash collection and snatched my trash right up! 

Strange Occurrence Number 2: I have tried to garden and I have never made it past seedlings. Is it too much to ask for lettuce?! A fresh salad? I think at times it is...My house gets a lot of natural light, so I have been attempting to start seedlings in my window stills. Fail, more failure and more failure. The other day after feeling especially inspired by Sarah’s garden (so jealous) I made up three seedling cups in a tin can and two old milk cartons and left them outside on my back stoop. The day after the trash incident I went out to water them and my tin can was missing! Just plumb disappeared off my stoop. I went to do some investigating around my compound and found the tin can (still full of dirt) sitting  upright on an outdoor cooking platform I have. Very strange. So I put the tin back with the others. Later that night....I went to the bathroom and my seedlings were re-arranged. Strange. 

The next day I head to school and when I come back, the SAME tin was moved. This time it was under the tree. So, I bring it back to the stoop. Then I take a nap...When I awake, the tin has been moved. Are you getting a pattern here??? This has happened every day this week. What are the odds? Things are getting weird. Also, nothing is sprouting (fail). 

I have several dogs on my compound, I have spent a great deal of time (far to much actually) talking to them, inquiring if they have some how grown thumbs and the ability to move my tin. Just my tin, not the milk cartons. 

Just another day in the life I suppose....

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Nako e botlhokwa

Time is relevant. It feels like just yesterday I flew to Philly for staging. It seems like just yesterday I left for Missoula. It seems like just yesterday my PaPa made me hot cocoa out of my favorite mug. 

But it wasn’t. 

Just yesterday I spent the day in a results analysis meeting; hearing about the sorry state that our schools are in. Just yesterday, I got two care packages from my family that made my day. Just yesterday I didn’t bathe because the water was off in the morning. Just yesterday I awoke to the news that a bomb went off at the Boston Marathon and peoples lives were forever changed. 

My Peace Corps journey has flown by, but at the same time days feel like they drag on. In August, we are welcoming Bots-14 to this crazy journey and Bots-10 is wrapping up and departing over the next several weeks. Which departure is coming around the bend (time is relevant). 

I have been struggling lately with the feeling that I am not doing much. Every so often I catch up on my blog reading or someone posts on Facebook about a neat project they are doing. I think to myself, what have I done? At times its hard to remember that 2 of the 3 of the goals of Peace Corps are cultural exchange. At times its hard to remember that its the small things in life and the lessons learned. 

So heres to the small things in life....

Watching the starts peek out as the sun leaves the horizon. The stars here are like nothing I have ever seen before...


Sitting on my stoop in the morning watching the absolutely picturesque sun rise--everything looks new and hopefully, the clouds are a silvery pink. Then having Merrill (Griff and I named the puppy on my compound) rush over to me, like I have been gone for ages, for a morning snuggle.


Running into my favorite, now retired, cleaning lady from school. Who always to time and patience to help me with Sekgalagadi.


Learning how to kill a chicken....


Learning how to hitch hike 


Learning how to laugh at myself (again and again and again) 


Learning the art of humility. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Okavango Half Marathon/5K and Health Fair

A view from the course

Ashley, myself and Maggie 

Easter Eggs were a necessity!
Of course Smokey came along....