Peace Corps is in no way connected to what I say here; all error, misinterpretations are mine.
My goodness, my note came off as grumpy last time. So sorry.
Pre-service training is officially half way over! I’m so glad… This part of the experience has been pretty miserable for me…
Suffice it to say, that there is a future blog post titled: things not previously mentioned because a) Deanna would stop what she was doing, borrow my friend Ann’s canoe, and row across the Atlantic to come fetch me; or b) Deanna would stop what she was doing, go borrow a gagillion dollars, and fly to Africa to come fetch me.
For those of you who know me well, these stories have everything to do with a) the curse of the “Milam luck”’; or “bad camping stories make great stories” or “Karen has a HUGE learning curve.
I’m fine, I’m really fine, but it has been a hard week or two.
The good news is that I learn of my “permanent site” on Friday and will actually go spend a week at my new site and get a feel for how things will actually be. The biggest part of my problem right now is feeling like I have people crawling all over me all the time and have no space or alone time. I’m pretty grumpy.
The good news is THAT I CAN HAPPILY STAY HERE! We did a shopping trip (well, actually a window-shopping trip because we’re all so broke) to Bella Bella (Warmbath) this weekend and I found, guess what, hold on to your seat: fresh ground pepper, BLUE CHEESE, olive oil, balsamic vinegar… ANY fresh fruit or veg that I can find in the states: blueberries, strawberries, lettuces, mushrooms. I was so happy to know that yes, these things are here and are available, only not in the villages.
I ALSO FOUND SEEDS FOR SALE! I’m so happy.
I could have stayed here for two years without these things, but now I can HAPPILY stay here for two years.
So, I’m not up for trying to cook with my host family. Making a meal seems such a huge effort: boiling water, cutting, chopping, COOKING food I’m not familiar with, so, I’ve tried to find other ways I can help out.
I’ve found that the family seems (seemed) happy with my doing dishes (I wanted to quickly take over this task anyway because of some things having to do with “not previously mentioned…) and hauling water for the family from the community tap.
So, every morning I rise before “school” (a day at the college) to haul about 450 kilos of water (three to four trips with 3 containers of water hauled in a wheelbarrow). And in the evening, after dinner, I was the dishes on the front porch under the stars. Both of these tasks are the highlight of my day… My “that thing which we think of as God” has given me meditations in water. (A favorite thing about working for Bunton’s was watering the plants. It took at least 6 hours and I loved every moment of it.)
So, anyway, I thought my family was pretty happy with me. BUT, the families debriefed w/ Peace Corps this weekend and I’ve since learned that my family is not happy because: a) I’m not cleaning my room and b) I’m not cooking.
So, when I asked about this whole “cleaning of the room” deal, I was told that I am supposed to “sweep my room” (my room is a concrete floor with filthy carpet tiles), open a window to let fresh air in, and “make my room tidy” in case anyone wants to “see it.”(I lock my room when I’m not there, per PC instructions.)
So, I told my family I would be happy to assume these tasks and to please forgive the fact that I had no idea I was supposed to be doing them.
So, on Saturday, I “cleaned my room.” I swept, generated such a cloud of dust I’m still sneezing a coughing three days later, opened my window (was actually glad to be shown how to do this—I love fresh air!), and threw everything back into the suitcase. J
They seemed pretty happy with this.
And last night, I attempted to make bagobe (pap) the stiff cornmeal porridge that most of the Africans live on. (It’s very similar to corn grits without tasting anything like corn grits.)
So, I think I’m making peace with my family. I had no idea they were so perturbed.
Oh yeah. They’re very happy I’m doing my own laundry. Actually, the whole village is happy that I’m doing laundry and has even asked me to show another volunteer how to do it. J
That’s plenty for now, I’m sure. I’m told that SA is experiencing a mail strike. Apparently, Zuma promised everyone a 20 percent pay raise and strikes are very common here. (A phone company is still on strike.)
But I did get three letters from home! Yay!
Again, I love hearing every word: electronic and snail mail. I can’t respond to everyone personally, but I love, love, love reading every word.
I love all of you more than you can know. Hugs, Karen (Moleboeng)