from a snowy walk in the Rattlesnake, Missoula, Montana

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


I have touched on corporal punishment in Botswana before, but never has it hit me so close to home…

I would like to preface this post, Botswana is a safe country. Yes, there is crime and I do believe that crime is escalating in Botswana as a whole. However, I find that I live in a very safe area of Botswana. Yes, I have had to deal with my share of bothersome men, but there have been very few times (I can count them on one hand) that I have felt unsafe. Seriously unsafe, the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and your heart races unsafe, fight or flights unsafe. 

There is a gentleman in Hukuntsi who has harassed myself and Sarah for months and months. First it was just annoying. Then he became more erratic in his behaviors. He has grabbed my breasts before, touched us, pushed me and forcible block us from leaving or entering a store.  

A few weeks ago we reported him to the police when he forcibly blocked me from entering a room as we were trying to flee from him. Sarah the lucky lady had made it in the room before he could stop her. We took him to the police and they sat him down and talked to him. He denied everything. He wasn’t bothering us, he just wanted money….etc etc etc. That day in particular he followed us around the shopping “mall” in Hukuntsi, grabbing our arms, yelling at us and  followed into a store. Repeatedly we told him to go away (in English and Setswana) he flat out told us “ke a gona” I am refusing. But yet, he just claims he wanted money. 

For the most part, people in Hukuntsi look out of us, they tell him to go away and make sure we are “safe” 

Not the other day…

Its uncanny, its like the man (he is 20 or 21) has radar for us, the minute is step out of the kombi he was on me. Walking far to close for comfort, yelling that he loves me and something about killing someone. I escaped into my first store, the clerk told him to leave. The minute I left he followed me. Then I escaped to PEP. The manager at PEP is a lady with a pair of lungs, she always does a fine job of yelling at him. Unfortunately she wasn’t there. At this point I was already on the edge of crying out of frustration as I am asking for help. The staff at PEP do nothing but laugh at me and tell me I should hit him. That was the breaking point. I cry. 

Nothing is worse than crying out of frustration. 

Not to mention that crying is a big cultural no-no in Botswana. No one cries (at least in public) and no one knows what to do when they see you crying. Especially a grown woman. People get deer in the headlights looks and don’t make eye contact with you they are so uncomfortable. 

After calling the amazing Thuso our safety and security officer (ironically his name means “help”) he stayed with me on the phone while I walked to the police. Af first the police officers just stare at me. Like its a joke that I am asking for help from this guy. “Ahhh he is mentally ill” they tell me actually its more like “he is not right in the head” but I don’t find that an appropriate way to describe an individual with a mental health diagnosis. Finally the police officer says he will go and find this man.  

A short while later they return and after a rapid discussion all in Setswana the police officer tells me to sit in a particular chair. I didn’t question that so I move. The next thing I know the police officer has a switch in his hand and the man is bent over a chair. The police officer proceeds to switch the man, in front of me. Within 3 feet of my face, in front of me. All the time telling him he needs to leave me alone. Now, this wasn’t the type of switching I see in school, these lashes were meant to leave a mark and inflict pain. The lashing must have been some work for the officer because during it—he removes his jacket. Or maybe the jacket was constricting his range of motion…? After he lashes the guy and yells at him someone the man walks out of the room. It was more of a painful limp of a person who just got their ass beat….The police officer looks at me and says “he won’t bother your anymore” 

Not only have I been subjected to this mans constant harassment, I was just subjected to a beating. I was so unnerved that I was shaking. I ask the officer to walk with me to my kombi stop because I was worried this man wouldn’t leave me alone. The officer looks at me like I was crazy—this man was just beat why wouldn’t he leave you alone? Finally the officer agrees and walks me to the kombi stop. And guess who was at the kombi stop….? 

I wanna be like Harry!

I recently started to “read” Harry Potter, actually I was listening to the audio books. I was never really a HP fan back home. I have never, until this year read the books or watched all of the movies. 

But man o man. I am hooked. First off: The man who reads the audiobooks, has the best voice in the world. Secondly: HP is actually pretty freaken’ amazing. Mad props JKR! 

I was only a book in before I was hooked, so hooked that I have had more than one long conversations with people (mainly Katy) about how awesome it would be if we were witches and in the Peace Corps. Or really, just how useful magical skills would be in life in general.

So I have compiled a list (not limited to…)

Owls: Owls would be handy for many reasons, we wouldn’t have to spent hours of our lives waiting in the queue to mail a letter home. We would owl it! Out of air time? No matata! Send an owl! Feel like you just need some entertainment in your life? Get a pig-wiggen size owl. Done and done. 

Apparition/Disapparate: Its month end and you need money and groceries but don’t want to be crammed like sardines in the bus. Disapparate. Really wish you could see your friend for the weekend but don’t want to spend hours on the bus. Disapparate. Man o man, I am tired of getting Botswana lap dances on the kombi. Disapparate. 

Invisibility cloak: Now, I realize that this is a very special cloak and not every magical being has one….But I need one. Not in the mood to talk to people or have people scream legoka at you? Invisibility cloak. You want to go for a jog but don’t want men stopping and picking you up? Invisibility cloak. 

Spells: Oh my goodness, what spell wouldn’t work. I think really, just having the ability to preform a spell would make our lives completely different. Lets say you don’t have electricity (like me) that can be easily fix! Tired of sweeping? Just bewitch your broom to sweep for you! There can be lots of down time in the Peace Corps, what a great time to prefect and create  a wide variety of spells! 

Brooms: I think this would be ace. I don’t know what I would want more sometimes a broom or a wand….Want to go on a game drive? No problem! Just hop on your broom and have a scenic view of the Delta or Transfrontier. Its month end? No problem, just fly on down to your shopping village.  

I feel like I need to stop…I could go on for days about why I need to be a witch, really, this obsession is getting out of control. I cannot count the number of times I have looked seriously at a person and said “man I need an owl” or some Harry Potter related line. 

But if anyone wants to get me an owl as a gift….

Friday, June 13, 2014

Botswana lap dance

My parents said that so many things happen in Botswana that would make a great movie script....Or a line in a stand up comedy. This is just one of those situations.  

I just wanted eggs. Is that too much to ask? 

We haven’t had petrol (gas) recently, so its been hard to get a lift out of the village to Hukuntsi (12-15ks away) to buy food. After waiting for a lift for an hour, just as I was debating the pros and cons of walking 5ks to the main road for a lift the kombi shows up. There were about 24 of us waiting to get into a 18 passenger van. The orderly sense of queuing was lost in an instant. Frankly I just wasn’t in the mood to push my way on the kombi so I stepped aside. Which worked in my favor….for a short moment. Someone saved me a seat! Although, it was perhaps the worst seat ever—right by the door in the front. Just as I am getting cozy with the granny next to me, a man decides that he MUST get on the kombi. There was about a foot of space in front of me—which is more than enough room for a body. 

So he straddles me. 

Yes, thats right. He straddles me. If I were to move my leg, he wouldn’t have had children. 

Thank god I bathed this morning! And was wearing perfume! 

So we rode like that, him straddling precariously on me. One tap of the breaks or sharp turn and he would be on me like white on rice. 

I should have slipped pulas into his belt….

And guess what. There wasn’t an egg to be found in Hukuntsi. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

10 years on

May 2014, my parents visit to Botswana 
High School Graduation, May 2004 
Its been 10 years since my high school graduations….10 years! Am I really that old? It seems like just yesterday I was a fresh high school graduate, ready to take on the world (or just leave west Texas…)

I was one of the few who went out of state for college, even one of the fewer who went farther than Oklahoma or New Mexico. 10 years on, I am not sure where we all have ended up…but I suspect I am still one of the few that are living outside the hallowed grounds of Texas. 

Looking back over the past 10 years, I have to say. I am pretty dang proud of how I have turned out. 

I have graduated college, I am a final report away from my Masters. I don’t own a home or have a dog—but thats okay right now. 

I have gotten myself in to debt and out of debt. 

I am serving my country. 

I am an intelligent, vocal, independent woman. 

I don’t have any children and I am not married. I am okay with that. Fundamentally, I don’t think that I would be happy if I was saddled down. One day, marriage will be nice. 

I am honest to a fault—Its my fatal flaw. 

I don’t have regrets. Life is to short to have regrets.

I live life how I want to live it and I answer to myself. Maybe I am just selfish? 

I have a lot of fun. Life is too short not to have fun and see new things. 

I have hitch-hiked around southern Africa. I have seen the world, met new people and opened my mind. 

When I go to bed at night, I know I am living my life how I need to be living it. I have a wealth of experiences I wouldn’t have been able to acquire anywhere else. At the same time, if I ran into you at a bar, I couldn't carry on a conversation about children or owning a home. 

Everyone has their bad days, I wont lie and say there haven’t been nights where I wished I had a house and a fence and a man, maybe a few chickens too. But all in all, I am the satisfied with my life. And that my friends, is all one should want at the end of the day. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Healthy Mind Healthy Body

Healthy Mind Healthy Body

I think the Peace Corps funk can sneak up on you, follow you around like a shadow then become a grey cloud that weights you down. My Peace Corps funk has been a shadow—for a while now. Then it became a cloud. A cloud that I am going to consciously fight. 

Winter is coming, the days are growing shorter and the nights longer. Its hard not to want to climb in bed come 630 when your house is now dark and cold. Its hard  to get out of your warm bed and face the day until the sun is streaming through your window a good 12 plus hours later. It took me a while to realize what was going on, I would climb into bed with unbrushed teeth and an unwashed face just to “read” come 7pm I was snoozing and would wake up at 2am ready to face the day only to look at the clock and realize what time it actually was. So I would toss and turn for hours only to fall back asleep at 600 when my alarm was going off. Dragging my tired self from bed all out of sorts I would grumble about my life. This goes on for week after week. 

Some time last month, I attended an Emotional Intelligence workshop with the teachers, we had to take self-reflective quizzes. As I looked at the questions I had a dawning realization. I am a different person in Botswana than in America. I already knew that before, but I am different in a way that I don’t like. Here, recently, I often find myself to be loosing identity, self-conscious, lacking confidence, emotional, moody, depressed, overly critical of others…..the list does on and on. I feel like I have lost a little bit of me, the good part of me. People often tell me “you are getting fat” I used to just be able to rub it off—-now… I just hide in my house, isolating and reading bad romance novels. The fact of the matter, I gaining weight, this is something that I am well aware of every time I put on my pants or try to run. 

I need to reclaim that part back. Starting Monday, June 2nd I am undergoing what I call “Health Mind Healthy Body” with the following goals. 

Wash your face twice a day
Brush your teeth twice a day
Work out 4 times a week and bathe on those days
Grow it, eat it, love it
Mindfulness exercise 3 times a week
Positive energy bounces back
Eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner
Drink wine only once a week!
Clean your house—you know it makes you feel better  
Write down your goals and keep them
When you put yourself in uncomfortable situations you grow and change 
Make the most out of the time left

Last year I joked about the coldness and the number of times I didn’t take a bath, all joking aside that was a dirty thing to do to myself mentally. If you live in filth, it over times corrupts your mental health. 

Its already been a few days....I went for the worlds most horrible run this morning. But I did it. I am feeling better about myself. I am feeling better about my future. 

I am going to tackle winter head on this year! And reclaim my missing self!