Saturday, October 22, 2011

Our new home

Yesterday we found out where we will be living (although we do not have a mailing address there yet). It is the village of Hukuntsi in the Kgalahadi. The population is 4,500, but it is relatively close to a game reserve and somewhat close to to Namibia as long as we do not mind a bit of a trek on a bus. We are already planning some trips. The nearest volunteer in our group is a 114 Km bus ride away, but I have a feeling several of us will find a good centralized location to have occasional meetings and play cards or have a movie night. Although we have really enjoyed our time in Kanye we are really excited to get set up in our own place.

Most of the volunteers got together yesterday after class to celebrate our site announcement and it was a well needed break from our usual life here. In the last few days John and I have had a hard time feeling completely disconnected from friends and family (we would welcome any updates on life in the states as we miss you all very much). Today we are going to Gabs for the Peace Corps 50th anniversary celebration and will be meeting up with almost all Botswana volunteers. Having an afternoon out yesterday, the site announcement, and today's event will hopefully recharge us.

I had my first chance to play pool here (although any large bus rank seems to have an outdoor one covered by a roof and surrounded by a cage). This was a hilarious experience. Everything I know about pool should be forgotten. There is no chalk, the felt is destroyed, the balls are smaller, the cue ball is more like a golf ball, the table slopes away from the holes rather than toward them. I played 2 games, one with Danielle as a partner and the other with Rachel as a partner. It is one pula per game and we played a couple local younger men. They were nice well behaved men as there were no marriage proposals (the fact I am married neans nothing) and no lewd remarks. One guy wanted me to teach him Spanish and he also also referred to my partner as large in a complimentary fashion. People here are not shy to call people old, fat, ugly as well as any barrage of positive compliments. I am learning to take being called large or fat better than ever in the states although it is a bit of an adjustment. We have also learned to avoid or try to get away from conversations with drunk people as they never end well and often include physical contact or propositions that in the US would cause someone to get punched.

On a positive note everyone here is friendly and loves to talk. All we have to do is say "Dumela mma/rra" to someone and try to speak Setswana and they would love to have a conversation. After a negative interaction it is helpful to walk down the road and talk to people as I always feel much better and welcomed. Even if people ask for money you can say "Ga ke ne madi" and have a conversation that does not end negatively.

Although I am excited to get out on our own in Hukuntsi I am also sad to leave our Botswana familu in Kanye. We have made several friends and been warmly welcomed. I hope to be able to come back to visit as well as have them visit if possible. The cultural sharing has been extremely helpful and tomorrow we plan on cooking a pizza with them. So far we have learned to handwash clothes, cook some local food, and understand the family structure, school system, medical system and society from a different perspective.

Here is a link with distances too the nearest large cities in Botswana:

Right now the internet is so slow I am having a hard time posting pictures. I will try to get some up soon.

On another note, if anyone sends packages or letters, please send pictures you all as we would love to have some to decorate our walls and it is hard and expensive to get them printed here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I am spending the week shadowing Stephanie in Machaneng (near Mahalapye). So far it's been a great experience and I learned how to make pizza (crust and all). Honestly it was the best pizza I have ever had!! Stephanie is a CCB and works with the clinics, so although she is doing a different job that I will be it is good to experience some of the facets of peace corps life. I am also having a great time having a bit of girl time that is much overdue.

Since I have internet I am posting a few pics from Kanye and hope to post some from here later.

The kids braiding my hair:

Beautiful purple blooming tree:

John eating the sun:

Our host family home:

Shadowing for the week

Hello everyone.

Me and Tracy are shadowing a current volunteer, so we are in different parts of the country for the week.  It has been nice to get out and explore a bit.  I am based in Francistown for the shadowing. We handed out some onion starters for people to use in their gardens, some towels, sheets and snacks to local people.  We visited a preschool and will be checking out some more schools throughout the week.

All incoming phone calls and text messages are free for me.  I'm not sure how much it costs for you guys. So let me know if anyone wants those digits.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Greetings from Kanye, Botswana!

This is our first blog post from Botswana. We are staying in Kanye (south of Gabarone). Our only internet access is through a cyber café which has a fairly slow network and costs up based on time, so I will apologize up front about the lack of pictures.

John and I are enjoying our family and have been given local names, Wame (me) and Kabo (John). We are also slowly progressing with Setswana, but luckily our family here speaks English as well. Everyone is wonderful although the house is almost always full of kids and activity. Unlike in the US, people walk in and out of people they know’s houses pretty freely and families live right next to each other or on the same compound, a kgotla. On the first weekend we were here family came from Gaborone to visit and meet us. One of the pictures I will post is of us while we were waiting with Thato, who goes to University in Gabs, to hitch a ride back. Hitch hiking is one of the predominant ways to travel here. People tend to reimburse the drivers who pick them up with whatever the going rate is for travel.

John and I are staying in the main house on the Kgotla and seem to have a relatively large amount of space compared to other volunteers. We have electric, running water cold water, and have a bathroom that is mainly ours (we share it with the guest room when people are visiting). I think this has helped us with integration because we have an intermediate amount of privacy and do not have to just hide in our room when trying to do homework which needs concentration. We are having occasional times of being overwhelmed, but they seem to pass fairly quickly.

We also arrived at a great time of year. There has been several events at the main kgotla (where the chief is) and the Peace Corps are brought in as honored guests. We were able to see traditional dancing and get a good taste of culture. There are also a lot of weddings and funerals. We have only been to 2 weddings yet, but a cousin is getting married soon and family is coming in town for events this weekend. I think I will be going to my first bridal shower Saturday.

Well time is running short here, so over and out for now. One last note, our cell phones have a problem receiving calls from AT&T phones, so if our folks passed on our number be aware of this. Also, the families should have our address if anyone wants to write. We will try to post again soon! Love to everyone!