Monday, October 27, 2014

352 days to go.

As of mid-October I have been an official PCV for one year. Half the battle is over! Peace Corps is really just a bunch of smaller battles. Like battles to get the amenities you are entitled to (gas for cooking, beds for sleeping, chairs for sitting, etc) which every PCV has different luck with. Some volunteers are driven to the furniture store where they select brand new pieces that they want in their house, and some people are dropped off thirty year old wooden-framed broken-springed love seat and chair. But I know volunteers who never even got the furniture they were supposed to, or they ended up buying their own (I was lucky enough to get a lil sumpin sumpin). Good thing I got the lower end of the deal because declawing a cat would be a laughable request here, so Boi has been sharpening her claws on most of my furniture, and I only stop her when it's my bed at 3am.
Battles with yourself. I fight myself often to do things because, well for one I'm really not doing anything else, and two I know I will feel better after doing it. It is so incredibly easy to shut yourself off from you community by staying in your house all the time. Just leaving the house, even for something simple, is work here. No matter where you go, or how used to seeing you they are, people are watching you more often than not, and chances are they are talking about it. Most days I would LOVE to sit in my house and binge watch some horrible TV show, and I'm not going to lie to you, I most likely would, if I could. But not having electricity has, in the grand scheme of it all, been more of a blessing than a curse. It forces me to go out and if I do want to watch a movie that night, I have to sit and socialize with my neighbors, or walk to a friends house, in order to charge my computer. I always feel happier after a day of interacting, even if 86% of the interactions were awkward or confusing. Plus, every dinner is a sexy candle-lit dinner at Gaone's, how will people know when I am TRYING to seduce them? There is still talk of getting me electricity. I'm actually texting with the person who is waiting at the power company to pay, right now, as we speak. Will it work? Will a dragon swoop in and brutally terrorize Francistown which will divert them from paying? Will Gaone ever get power/will it even be a good thing for her socialization skills? Stay tuned.
A Common PCV Battles with...
...neighbors over not sweeping our lawn. They are dirt lawns.
...neighborhood children over the correct time to use the word 'lekgoa' (that time is never).
...neighborhood children. Trying to like them every day is hard.
...supervisors who either 1) don't give a shit that we are there and have no suggestions on projects, or 2) give way too much of a shit that we are there and think we should be there forty hours a week. Everywhere you go there is failing technology.
...our bowels. Sometimes for no reason, sometimes for reasons you know all too well.
...the bus 'schedule'.
...Africa time.
All of these make up a good Peace Corps service. Many are cultural differences that I will just never understand because I wasn't raised thinking that way, but that is why we are here, to figure out these differences and try to understand them. If we cannot understand them, accept them and move on (unless it is to justify beating a person or an animal, then NOPE). We aren't here to change anyone's culture, nor would we want to. We're here to squeeze ourselves into their lives for two years, cross our fingers, and hope something good happens.
Here's to the weirdest year of my life so far, and probably an even stranger next year.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Funday

Let me just break down this past day for y'all at home.

Last night, at about 8pm for all those night owls, I was closing up shop (getting ready for beddy), when I walked into my back room, the one without the curtains, and noticed my neighbors tree was on fire. Under normal circumstances....actually, it's pretty weird to find someone's neighbors tree on fire so I don't have an acceptable response for this, so I tried to call their phone because I didn't want to walk the twenty steps to their house because, ya know, night time and all. I like to use the 'it's not safe card' with lots of stuff here, because to people who don't know where I live, I could say that perfectly justifiably. But when I say I 'don't like to walk to the general dealer-it's near a bar and eish, you know men' I really mean 'I was WAYYYYY too lazy to even consider walking 800 meters to get tomato for dinner. Rice is fine.' I can handle walking by a bar and the twenty steps to the neighbors are quite safe. So anywhoooo. I bucked up and walked to my neighbors house (her phone was off) to tell them their tree was on fire. He looked at the tree and said 'well, that tree does cause shade sometime, I'll put it out'. It didn't matter that it was ten feet from my house or anything, it causes shade.
This morning I slept until SEVEN AM. Extraordinary. I proceeded to have breakfast with Americans. I think it was probably quite normal for people to dine with other Americans so I won't go into detail. After, I immediately had two children at my house, eager to use my colors and subtly ask for food. At this point I realized I'd been awake for nearly four hours, so quickly shuffled them out and rested for three hours. I don't like to wear myself out.
After playing 'wordsearch' on my ipad for thirty minutes I decided to go buy airtime, because fuckit, I like Internet and lack self-control. The tuck shop (tiny little shop that sells random goods) next to my house was CLOSED. Tragedy. I decided to go sit at my neighbors house until it opened. While there I was told by a five year old (bffl for last post) that my nails were too long and dirty, I needed to clean my feet, and that I had dots all over my body (acne/freckles/moles/white people marks, I can only assume). Then he found his mothers bra, wrapped in around his head, and did karate in the living room. I also adamantly fought, to the point of fist pumping and chanting 'Scooby Scooby', that the nine year old change the channel from Nickelodeon, where they play strange shows about weird child ghosts, to boomerang where they were playing Scooby, obviously. I hid the remote on top of the TV.
Their littlest boy, Tumo, aged 1.2 has apparently been talking. I knew he has been saying my name for a while-Gaone. When I first met him a year ago, I didn't see him smile for the first three month, and no laughing until 6 months. Now, the kid can not look at me without bursting into his two-front-teeth-only fits of giggles. I very vainly thought that the only word he could say was, in fact, Gaone. Apparently, all that other baby babble he's been spewing for months is actually words, just baby version. I call it Setswanyana. For those of you who don't know, you can add 'yana' to the end of any word and make it baby form! Pudi (goat)/pudsana (baby goat), ntsa (dog)/ntsanyana(baby dog), Setswana (setswana)/Setswanyana (child Setswana). See, it works.
My village is what I like to call a ghost town, because compared to the closest nearest villages near me, it's insanely quiet. I can walk from my house, across the entire village and not meet anyone along the way. I love it. Generally there are a lot of cars around, because it's a mining village so it is wealthier (people are buying more cars), and because the mining buses pass my house a lot as it's on their route. But I like know there will be people around, they just always aren't. It is a copper mine, called Mowana Mine, if you are wondering, not diamonds. This may be a reason that the HIV rate is so high here, but honestly it is high all over Botswana, so I'm not sure how much worse it is. There are a lot of orphans, but to be considered an orphan here you only have to have lost one parents, which I assume is because of the immense amount of single-parent households here. Most orphans are orphaned because of HIV, but of course not all. Orphans very rarely go into foster families, although they do exist here, because there is such a STRONG sense of family here. I could go to my great uncle's twice removed, brothers, step- sister, ask her for twenty pula, and BOOM, I'd have myself twenty pula. So taking a family member's child here is a no brainer.
After braving the walk to the further away general dealer (but don't worry, I could still see it from my neighbor's house) with my two pals, I acquired my $2.50 worth of internet money and will continue to relentlessly check facebook zero, which is the super boring/free version, without pictures, for the remained of the day.
For my Auntie JoJo: I am honestly not sure how the teachers will work for the preschool if it happens. Right now the school is not looking promising, not enough time and not enough help from the community members. I should have started the project earlier but I honestly just did not think it would be able to happen, I didn't think we would have the funds to start one. I recently found out that we would possibly be able to use a classroom that already exists in the primary school, meaning we wouldn't have to try to build a whole new building, so when I found that out I thought it could be done, but I found that out a little too late I think. I do know that the preschool teachers don't have to be licensed, they only have to be qualified, which is awesome and I feel like there wouldn't be trouble finding some. It will still be a bit of a challenge getting money to build junior-sized outhouses and sink, and pay the teachers. I think their school fees would cover food and some class materials (although a school fee will still be hard to pay for some families). My struggle now is trying to get the kgosi (chief), school head, social worker, and head VDC member to meet and discuss solutions to this problem before Tuesday.
The water treatment business hasn't opened yet. They have gotten the money in their account and are waiting on the water purification machine, there seems to be some trouble getting in contact with the company. But I expect it to be in production as soon as the machine is here, and the people are trained! Clean water! PULA!
So that's the Sunday Funday. Now all I need is a mimosa, Stephanie, get on it.