Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kanye, Botswana Part 2

I’m back at an internet cafĂ© and how good it feels to be able to check my bank accounts and take care of things back home! The last time I was rushed so hopefully I can get more things done and update everyone on how I am doing and what I missed the last time. 
I recently found out that my host mother’s son, my brother, is studying engineering in Thailand. What a coincidence! He is studying at a University my dad took me to the last time I was in Thailand. It’s really cute because my sister, Dondo, keeps saying we are meant to be together. First, at the Host Family Matching Ceremony, my sister was wearing a top that is EXACTLY like one I have from H&M. And I am easily amused so you could only imagine I was excited to tell her I have a top just like hers. And now my mother tells me her 22 year old son is in Thailand while her host daughter is Thai and she can’t believe it. If this is not a coincidence then I don’t know what is. I had a late night talk with my mom the other night and I asked her what made her want to host. She told me that the Thai government has blessed her son by giving him a full scholarship to study in Thailand and that she wanted to pay back the government in some way. She told me how grateful she was and that she wanted to take care of someone just like the people in Thailand are taking care of her son. She also went on to tell me that when life gives you blessings, you bless others with the same. Our conversation left me with feelings of hope and happiness. I kept thinking that what my mother had told me was one of the most genuine and human things a person can do and it makes me have so much more respect for her. It also makes me feel that there is still some hope in the world and that my career path that I’ve chosen is right for me. It was a nice night. Also, that same day I experienced the first day of rainfall since I’ve been in the country. It was really exciting. Summer is coming and it’s the time when Botswana has major droughts so it’s always nice when Batswana see rain. It was raining so hard – thunder and lightning status- and it was weird because it wasn’t something I expected. The power went out and I lost mobile service so that was also kind of scary. We made dinner using my nifty headlight Trenton gave me before I left (Thanks Bub!) and I wrote a letter in almost complete darkness, for the exception of a single candlelight. And when I went outside to use the pit latrine (google it), I was scared for my life. Just imagine going outside to complete darkness, in Africa, and having to use the restroom with no light, whatsoever. Never again. I’m holding it next time. Here are just more pictures of the fam that I didn’t get to upload last time. 

Fashionable sis. We have matching tops!

Thati is such a little diva, I swear.

Aww. sisters.

The Boss!

We tried to get a silly shot and we failed. We tried once more…FAIL again.

Over it.

Angry face.

Silly Fefe being really creepy. haha

Baby Junior! I call him my little chubby cheeks.

Power outage in the whole village means we play with light. She's so beautiful.

I forgot that a lot of my friends and my family asked me to post pictures of the house and my room and I didn’t get a chance to last time. It’s nothing fancy but it’s enough. I live the most simplistic life I have ever lived and it feels pretty good being disconnected for most of the week. It’ll be a big change but they are just minor adjustments. I’ll have to get a front view of the house next time.
My lovely bed.

Peace Corps issued phone, Pre-Service Training Materials for the first 10 weeks, mosquito net, and a very comprehensive medical kit. That kit has everything you need!

The view from my reading spot.

View of the room from my doorway.

Settling in.
If most of you recall from my last post you remember that I told you that Batswana LOVE their weddings. By the end of this weekend I would have already gone to four, including a baby shower. And apparently anyone can go to the baby shower too. Well the first wedding I went to was really fun. I was pulled in by some mosadi moholo , old lady (not a negative connotation in Botswana), and I was forced to dance with the wedding party with all eyes on me. You can only imagine how many eyes were on me. I was embarrassed but realized it’s all fun and nobody cares if you don’t know how to dance to the music, as long as you’re having fun. My mom also made me give some type of offering for the new bride and groom and that entailed carrying a bottle of soda on my head, while dancing in a line with others. That was…interesting but also fun. I was very surprised at how much Western influence Botswana weddings have. The outfits are not always traditional and that goes for the music as well. It is all very beautiful to see, nonetheless.
Bride and groom.

This wedding party knew how to get down.
Mignon learning how to dance from an older Motswana.

Wedding food. (This is for you, Vandana!) Yum!

Offering the couple drinks.

Making a fool of myself and loving it.

Dancing in a line to bring the drinks to the couple.
Brides village. (1st day is celebrated in the bride’s village, second day is celebrated in the groom’s village, 3rd day the bride goes to stay with her new mother-in-law, and the 4th day the couple starts their first day of married life in their new home together. I wasn’t playing when I said weddings are long and expensive!
Traditional Housing

The first of many “I want to take a picture with the mekgoas” pictures. She then persisted to tell everyone we were her friends. Haha

 As far as new updates I haven’t really got much to say. Six days a week we are at the Kanye Education Center for our extremely long sessions. We start around 8:30 and end at 5:00. A normal day consists of about four sessions covering anything from Permagardening to HIV/AIDS epidemiology, and EVERYTHING in between. I literally feel like I’m in college again with all the group activities and homework assignments. But I know one thing, I will be an expert on HIV/AIDS by the end of Pre-Service Training (PST) and I will know how to survive on bucket baths, cooking beef, water preparation, and capacity building. Those are just very few of the things that PST covers.

The most exciting things that happened this week was the rainfall, going to Gabarone, getting to use the internet, and stuffing ourselves with junk food from Botswana. A day before we got all the rain, lightning, and thunder, we went to the capital city of Gabarone to set up bank accounts, do our program interviews, and have time to shop at Game City. Let me also add that I successfully did my laundry and am continually amazed at how fast my clothes dry. I love the smell and sight of fresh linen on the clothesline. It makes me feel accomplished. Haha (Washing clothes by hand is no joke!) Anyway, back to what I was saying…Since everything is in Gabarone all of us were excited to get to spend the day there. But that was short lived. The people here run on Botswana time meaning nothing is ever started on time, respectfully. We are told this yet volunteers continue to get impatient. We are advised to always have reading material and food with us just in case we are ever held up anywhere, which is very often. After setting up accounts and having my interview, I had NO time to do anything at Game City. Game is like a big Wal-Mart (Wal-Mart owns it) and has everything you could imagine for decent prices. We all go crazy when we get to go there because most of us re-acquaint ourselves with clothing stores, junk food, and a population that is more diverse and English-speaking. To most of us it is the closest feeling of home that we get so it means a lot to us. Although I didn’t get to do much shopping around I was happy that I was able to buy a fudge bar for 50 cents and a pack of envelopes, for sending my letters (Your letters are coming, Trenton!), for a dollar. The little things will start to mean the world to me for the next two years. But it’s okay. I like it here and I can’t wait for all the great experiences I will have and all that I have to learn about myself. I can’t wait to start teaching and co-facilitating. The thing I’m scared of most is integrating into my community when I go to my permanent site and building trust and rapport with my neighborhood. I really hope that they like me and that I am able to assess the needs of the people and build on that. I strongly believe that this will definitely be “the hardest job [I’ll] ever love.”

Our first birthday of the group, in Kanye! Happy Birthday Liz!

A photo from my niece's perspective.

Peace Corps office in the capital city of Gabarone.

Success with hand washing!

This is how happy we look when we find an internet cafe!

An ambulance that immediately reminded me of Trenton. (I miss you!) 

Enjoying our cheddar and onion Simba chips from the tuck shop!! (A tuck shop is a like a tiny convenience store that is found all over Botswana, in different villages. They are usually family-owned businesses and have the essentials you might need for home within walking distance.)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Kanye, Botswana

Hey everyone!

There's so much to saaayyyyy!!!!!! I probably won't even get to everything I want to but I will try. First and foremost, I am healthy and happy and am living in Kanye for the next two months!

After landing in South Africa, I was terribly nauseous. We had some pretty crazy turbulence that really upset my stomach so I was sad that I wasn't feeling well to do more exploration around the airport. It was a small airport anyway. :P We had to walk downstairs to our terminal but our terminal consisted of a large waiting room with buses waiting outside the doors. We all had to stand with our carry-on's as the bus took us right up to the small express plane that was waiting for us. I felt like such a movie star, kinda like Whitney Houston in the Bodyguard, not going to lie.
Johannesburg Airport, South Africa
Terminals out to the buses

Me, feeling all Bodyguard status

Gabarone Airport, Botswana

My lovely Southern friend, Sarah. Love her accent!

Next few pictures are from the lovely Big 5 Lodge in Gabarone , the first day we landed.

Fail on making that face, on my part. Go Lisa.

My family are the nicest people, ever. There is about 7-8 of us in this small house and I have my own room and my own bucket! (I have to take bucket baths. Yay.) The culture here is very familial and traditional so when I met my host family at our matching ceremony they immediately took me in and gave me a Setswana name. My name I've adopted is Rothle Mogakolodi, which I am almost sure none of you will pronounce correctly when you try because I can't even pronounce it.  I was praying I'd get a name I could pronounce and of course they throw in a name that has a rolling R and a click. -__- I won't get much further into that. I have two nieces and pretty much two nephews that live down the street but constantly yell, "Auntie, Auntie!" I love them but they play in the dirt and always get me dirty. =] They constantly tell me I am beautiful and I'm just too spoiled with them. I also think they say that because I'm different and they've never seen anyone like me. haha The mom to my nieces  is a beautiful woman who is 5 years older than I am and her name is Dondo. She teaches me Setswana everyday and I enjoy learning from her. My host mom, who is the head of household, is a respected teacher and when I tell people my name they're like, "Ohhh. Ahhh." I'm guessing those are positive sounds...? Oh, and I can't forget my brother who is 21 years old and insists that I listen to Lil Wayne and Rick Ross. He and I had a pretty lengthy debate over how talented Nicki Minaj is but unfortunately he still loves her. haha My brother, Tau, does most of the cooking and cleaning, which I find is amazing. He is such a nice guy and wishes to see California one of these days so hopefully he will! I'm sad I don't yet have a picture of him but I will soon! I also added him on facebook. haha He is on it 24/7. Much like many people I know. Not naming names. 

Yes, I wash my clothes, bathe, and brush my teeth in buckets. No running water in my home.

I took Thati and Fefe to school on their first day back!

My sister Dondo. I did her makeup and put on fake eyelashes for a wedding she was in. ME. OF ALL PEOPLE! :)

Yaone with a weave on. haha No, it wasn't mine.

Yaone not looking too happy, Thepo, baby Junior, and silly Fefe.

I took this for my sister. (Hey hooch!) This is our house cat that bugs me. Sorry, not a cat person. 
I went to a wedding my second day in Kanye! Let me tell you, Batswana (people from Botswana) LOVE their weddings! It is also wedding season so I probably should expect to be at a lot of them. I met my host family and immediately they said, "We're going to a wedding tomorrow and the next day." Uh, cool. haha It was a very fun and interesting experience but I don't think I would like going to a lot of them because Batswana have these very long weddings that last all day with great food but I feel just like an outsider there. Don't get me wrong, I love how friendly everyone here is. Everyone, everywhere I go, looks at me and says, "Lekgoa! Lekgoa!" Which literally means vomited from the see. It pretty much means white person or foreign person. Which is funny because I'm not white. But I am foreign so I guess it fits. Everybody wants to take pictures of me or with me or ask me things in the little English that they know. And when I try to talk to them in Setswana they laugh at me. But one thing I learned from the Peace Corps is that you will soon get real comfortable and okay with making a fool of yourself on a daily basis. The people here are so nice and friendly, I can't stress that enough. Training is 6 days a week and we learn all sorts of topics like Safety and Security, Women Empowerment, Water and Food Preparation, etc. As you can imagine there is A LOT we need to know to be able to live on our own at our permanent sites in about two months. It is crazy and the days are long but it is well worth it! My favorite is the Setswana language sessions we have because I love language. I look forward to those days.


Traditional Botswana dance. Coolest thing ever.

My lonely walk to the education center 6 days a week.

Combi ridin'. A combi is a van that fills up and takes you where you need to go with no set schedule. One of the cheaper ways to get around.

I love my fat cakes!!!!!!!!! It's really a big ball of dough that's fried. They're dangerous!!!

They love their fatcakes, too!!

Yaone and Thepo

She insisted on "helping Auntie with her backpack."

Just ate some fried chicken today!!!!!!!!!! YUM!!!!!!!!!

So I don't really know what I've missed so far but my time at this internet cafe is running up! I get to come here only once a week, if I'm lucky, so I am trying to remember things to update everyone on. Ahhh, running out of time at the internet cafe. I'll have to post more pictures of me dancing and making a fool of myself at a wedding and other things I've seen here. Also, I have the best health care I have ever had in my life so I feel a bit better about that. Yay for government employees. See you all later and take care!

Go Siame!

Diane Rotlhe Phoolserm