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.

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