Sunday, November 29, 2009

2 month anniversary

2 month anniversary

The 17th of November passed this month and I thought nothing of it. I was reminded by a couple of my colleagues that it was “two months at our permanent site.” I thought, “Twenty-two months to go!” No, not really. Well, kind of.

What I did think about was how different my life is now in Africa than it was from that in the US. Not surprisingly, in good old American fashion, it split out in a dichotomy, somewhat in line with the “haves” and “have nots”:

For two months in Africa I have not:

enjoyed a decent cup of coffee. Actually, I haven’t had a decent cup of coffee since I left the States.
enjoyed a cup of Earl Grey tea. I have learned to love the tea available here. They have a strong black tea which sells under the name, Joko. There is also a Rooibos tea, sold under the name of Five Roses. This is an indigenous herb tea that is caffeine free. I have the caffeinated tea in the morning, the non-caffeinated in the afternoon and Deanna’s tea when I have the blues or the sniffles.
seen a movie. Oh, how I long for a movie… I think I was addicted to Netflix. What’s playing in the theaters these days? Did the new Julia Child movie ever come out? Starring Meryl Streep?
laid eyes on my family. I miss them painfully.
had a shower. I’ve had plenty of baths though.
cooked any meat. I haven’t really missed this, although when someone offers me meat or cooks it for me, I enjoy every bite!
sipped water straight from the tap. My tap water is probably ok, but I’m not risking it.
driven a car. I don’t miss it!
walked a dog. I thought I would never miss this, but I do.
hiked in the woods. I miss this terribly.
used or have use of a washing machine, a microwave, stove, or fridge. I can’t believe I’ve lived without a refrigerator for two whole months. I do miss my washing machine; especially the rinse cycle. I’m using a hotplate instead of a stove and while not my preference, am making do. I do sometimes miss having a microwave.
played with compost or mulch.
eaten out in a nice restaurant. My choices of restaurants include KFC, which I refuse to go (it’s the only connection most South African’s have with Kentucky and I find this connection embarrassing); Wimpy’s, which is a burger joint, mostly, and not very good; and Spur, which is touted as a “tex mex” restaurant, which is better than Wimpy’s, but still not great. Vryburg’s nickname is “Little Texas,” and the explanation for which I do not know.

Now, in Africa, for two months I have:

worked in a garden. I’ve only played in gardens in the States. To garden in Africa, one must work and work hard.
thought a lot about how to mulch and compost in Africa (which would make gardening a lot easier here).
planted nasturtiums, marigolds, and herbs in containers in my room. I have a baby nasturtium! Woo hoo!
read some good South African books: Nadine Gordimer is a new favorite. I’m currently reading some interesting, if depressing, histories of South Africa by Alistair Sparks and Rian Malan.
met some wonderful people who have fed me wonderful food.
stared at the African sky.
not missed (much) having a washer, microwave, stove, and fridge.
gone to bed early (although I did this in the States too, just not so ridiculously early).
observed children going to school in South Africa.
observed college kids going to college in South Africa.
hired a tutor for a foreign language (although here too, I’ve done this in the States, just not for Setswana)
fed goats cabbage leaves, banana peels, apple cores, etc. By gosh, I’ll compost one way or another!!
fed wild birds from my window sill.
studied a lot of South African educational policy. Yuck!
spied a gorgeous South African snake. I think he was a cape cobra!!
eaten a Ghanan chili paste—yum!
fallen in love with pepper trees.
observed some breathtaking South African storms.
viewed a magnificent double rainbow.
did two wonderful, amazing hikes. (Alas, yes, only two.)
written letters. Real, pen and paper, snail-mail letters.
visited Kimberley. (Not for fun; for a Dr.’s appointment.)
Visited Klerksdorp and Potchefstroom. These weren’t real visits, just drive bys, mostly. I did stay in Potch for a whole day; however, I was stuck inside a boring meeting. Yuck! (These, btw, are just the same in the US.)
found two decent libraries relatively close by.
visited several different churches. And knelt on unpadded kneelers—ouch!
finally accepted the unpalatable fact that I must give into the horrid practice of text-messaging. Just when you thought typing couldn’t get any worse, you’re to do it with your thumbs.
finally figured out that when a white person is speaking to me and I can’t understand them, they are speaking Afrikaans.
learned to wash clothes by hand.

What I hope to do in the next two months:

learn to feel comfortable in my new, African skin.

Soon, Karen

Ps. Oh, one more thing I’ve learned: how to say, “I prefer to be called Karen” in Setswana: Ke rata go bitswa Karen.

Pss. I was just reminded that I've been out of the US for FOUR MONTHS! Wow!

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