Wednesday, October 24, 2012

5 and 1

September brought Tracy and I some milestones (or maybe kilometermarkers would be more appropriate?) in the form of being in Botswana for a full year and also celebrating our five year wedding anniversary.  Both of these seem equally unlikely while at the same time quite concrete.

Every so often I will bring up a story about high school or living in Australia and get surprised that Tracy doesn't remember being there.  Of course she is surprised since we did not even know each other back then.  The other side of the coin is looking back at photos and realizing how much we have grown and developed in the space of 5 years.  Some big accomplishments seem small and other ones have engrossed our lives.  Learning to talk openly, honestly, and often seemed like a no-brainer, but has been one of the most rewarding aspects of our marriage for me and one of the most difficult at times.   We have gotten to travel to Cumberland Falls, the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and the rainforest, India, all over the USA, and now live in Africa.  Just shy of a new continent for each year of marriage – watch out Antarctica we are coming for ya’!

Also our individual growth over the last half a decade shocks and delights me.  I have now quit smoking, moved out of my dad’s rental house (that had no stove or kitchen cabinets, but a sheik’s quality vanity in the bathroom) got a degree, sold a house, cut my hair, had a “real” job, lost that job, got another “real” job, quit that one, and moved 8,079 miles away from home (12,999 km).  The Peace Corps has brought out aspects of me that I never knew existed and has given me a real respect and understanding for what immigrants that come to America experience.  I am especially glad to have spent these last 5 years with a thoughtful and loving wife engaged in enjoyable and good times.

We did finally get away to Maun, Botswana for a small anniversary celebration and went on a motor boat jaunt.  It was fun but we realized we have been skimping too much on vacations.  One year in and I have yet to see an elephant or giraffe!!  Luckily our friends Jenn and Liz are heading here in about a month and we are going to see a lot of things we have wanted to.  It will be along the eastern coast of Botswana and will include Victoria Falls (Zambia side) and the Rhino sanctuary.  I am really looking forward to traveling for pleasure and some relaxation.  For a view on traveling and vacations here that I completely agree with, a good friend of ours wrote an excellent post that really captures how it feels:

The landscape
After being in Botswana for a year, I am happy to say we are doing well and still challenged on a daily basis.  We find inspiration almost as often though and that makes it worthwhile.  We are working on a “Child Abuse talk” for the local school teachers and have a great counterpart and team being assembled.  Both Tracy and I have some work to do for it, but it is the kind of thing we envisioned doing here.  The school year is winding down now and I will not see a lot of the graduates again so there is a bit of sadness.  We got to attend the Form 3 party for the departing students and it went wonderfully.  Mr. Keitatotse and I had put together a “movie” (more a slideshow with music) of a trip the students got to go on.  It was a big hit and the kids loved seeing themselves on the screen.  I learned we needed more close ups of individuals and surprisingly pictures of the buses.  No idea why but they went crazy over the buses.  One of the newest teachers sang a song and danced for them also.  He really stole the show and was very entertaining.  I need to get him to help me with some dance moves and choreography.  They also had a 3 man play that addressed the importance of education, but I missed a lot of the finer points since it was in Setswana and I have not grasped the language as I had initially hoped.

Mr. Dimbo and Soldier
Everyone wants to watch
Peter Keitatotse - he planned the whole event!
The crowd
The Drama
Since arriving here a short year ago, we have matured personally more than many years combined.  Getting to know 35 American strangers and living in a room with a host family has become 35 friendships and a new branch on our family tree.  Moving to Hukuntsi and hitchhiking all over the country (mostly the lower half) has stirred up a self-transformation also.  I feel confident and comfortable that I can talk to anyone from the most bedraggled shake-shake (a thick local brew with twigs and an unmistakable smell) drunkard to a government minister with a suit and tie sporting around in an air-conditioned vehicle.  I recall going to coffee shops in the US and not speaking with a soul.  It seems kind of other-worldly now.  I look forward to the future and seeing which things stick and who I keep in contact with.  There are a handful of teachers I hope to see in the states one day and get to return some of their generosity and warm.

Lastly September saw Botswana celebrate its 46th year of independence.  Tracy and I had one of the best days of our service celebrating in the nearby village of Lokwabe.  Between that and the loss of Major Mautle we have been on the roller coaster of life recently.  While excited about our future here, I definitely hold our past in fond esteem.

Hugs and kisses,
John O.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Being married in the Peace Corps

A while a go I promised a friend I would post this--sorry for the delay Julianne.

The following is an article I wrote for the Botswana PCV Newsletter that is sent out every month.  It is a great newsletter and I look forward to getting it and seeing what is on everyone's mind all over the country.  John and I had been going through a rough patch and I had talked with single friends about the different challenges of being a married PCV here.

"Being married in the Peace Corps sounds wonderful when thinking of sharing these experiences with each other and having someone to lean on and support you when the times are hard (or to fight a battle for you that would have made you throw the towel in).  Sometimes it works that way and sometimes it doesn’t.   Everyone has heard married people and non-married people go through different trials and tribulations and here are my experiences with them. 

In the US we both had our separate lives during the day.  There were constant activities we could do separately with friends or even with a group together, but not really being together all the time.  People saw us as individual people who chose to be together.  Now anytime they see one of us the first question is “Kabo (John) o kae?”  People are shocked when I don’t know and keep questioning.

 I also have found a disturbing change in myself; I am becoming a bit co-dependent.  Instead of just going to the store by myself or going for a walk when I need to get out, I find myself asking John along or waiting for him.  This is a habit I am slowly breaking as it is destroying my self esteem.

Although it sounds nice having someone to do projects with, having it be a spouse is difficult.  I hold John to higher standards than I do anyone else, which always brings about stress.  If one of us is not motivated, it is easier than expected to drop the other person’s motivation.

In the US I did not have to defend my marriage and the idea of marriage daily.  I don’t want a small house.  I was able to have male friends without people assuming I am cheating and telling me they are going to tell John.  Although it has brought up a lot of good conversations, the whole thing gets taxing a bit as about 75% of my conversations now discuss John in one way or another. 

The most difficult thing is that our entire relationship has changed.  During the first few months at site we fought more than we have ever fought in our entire relationship.  We even discussed going home to save our marriage.  One of us having a bad day often means we both have a bad day…that is a lot of bad days and sometimes multiple day long fights.  For the new couples, it does get better in time. 

We are still trying to figure out how to best cope with this.  Some of the main coping techniques we have come up with include:
·         Making sure we talk about our relationship
·         Not making promises we are not sure we can keep (i.e. talking to someone about something for the other person when you have a busy day)
·         Not trying to be a “back seat driver” to someone else’s project
·         Taking time for ourselves when needed
·         Allowing the other person to go out of town without you if you both don’t want to go

Although these are things we also did in the US the stressors are different and more intense and our support network and stress outlets have dramatically shrunk.  Overall it has gotten better, but when we let down our guard up pops a fight.  All in all I am glad John is here with me and I think this has strengthened our marriage, but definitely tested it. "

I hope everyone at home is well!  We miss you all (and all the yummy food there...especially sushi...mmm sushi).


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Independence Day & Horse Racing

Day 1 – September 30, 2012 – Botswana Independence Day Lokgwabe style
PS traditional dance
tribe choir entering kgotla

Dick, a co-worker of John’s, neighbor, and friend has been trying to talk us into going with him to Lokgwabe for Independence Day.  It is his home village.  Given that it is a 4 day weekend and right after our 5 yr anniversary we wavered a little bit, but ended up caving in and I am so glad we did.  Lokgwabe is a village only 10k from Hukuntsi (John has almost run there before) and has so much spirit.  Some of Dick’s family picked us up on the way and we stopped by his family’s compound to pick him up and then headed to the Kgotla.  I did not feel like wearing a skirt all day, so I wore jeans and wrapped a cloth around my waist to be allowed to enter without offending anyone.  We ended up sitting behind Thato who was nice enough to interpret for us when desired.  The event included the traditional speeches, a primary school traditional dance, one of the tribes had a choir dance, and a singer with back up dancers all of which was really nice, but the great stuff is what followed.
Annah one of John's students
Thato and me at the main kgotla

We then headed down to the ward level Kgotlas.  Unlike most villages, each family did not have their Kgotla in the middle of their family’s compounds, all Kgotlas are placed on shared ground to create a community gathering area for all of Lokgwabe where each family had their own area and was large enough for community events (rather than just using the main Kgotla).  Dick was kind enough to take us to each Kgotla and introduce us to the families.  He mentioned that they would be angry if he did not as everyone wanted to meet us.  This included lots of hand shaking and greetings, especially for the elderly.  Most were happy we were able to greet them in Sekgalagadi.  We then went to meet the councilor for our region whose home village is Lokgwabe.  He was extremely welcoming and proceeded to announce us to everyone over the PA system on his car and requested we be fed, which was not a problem as everyone wanted to feed us while we were walking around anyway.  This was repeated multiple times during the event.  At one point John walked by councilor and was requested to speak Sekgalagadi which caused a following announcement saying we know the local language (only basic greetings as our focus has mostly been Setswana and most people can speak English too).

Soon after this the dancing and games began.  Each Kgotla had a dance/skit/game.  The mosadi mogolo (old ladies) in Lokgwabe have an amazing amount of spirit and energy!  Many of them danced for over an hour combined and the dancing here entails short fast leg movements that make me tired after just a few minutes and sore then next day.  At one point there was a graduation dance which entailed all the mosadi mogolo holding sticks (the kind used for corporal punishment).  The lady in the lead was dancing and trying to hit the others while they all protected themselves with their sticks.  Occasionally she would lash out as it to get the crowd and everyone scattered.  The people she ended up striking, who were part of the dance, wore leather as to protect themselves from getting hurt.  Another game entailed everyone dancing in a circle moving clockwise to a very fast beat.  Whoever had the orange would step in while dancing after a certain number of beats while the person behind her/him would
step in too and try to catch the orange.  This often had people (sometimes in their 50-60’s) ending up on the ground but everyone just bounced right back up and kept going.  One of the ladies would catch the orange and then put it right in my face or Thato’s as if she were going to not catch it in time.  The councilor kept bringing the microphone up to me to have me try to say the words to the song they were singing, a few of which I could not pronounce.  If I am not over my fear of public speaking/performance/embarrasment by the time I leave here nothing will cure me. J

Orange Game

The graduation dance

Foot race (john is a speck somewhere in there)
Next came the 100m footraces by age category in 5 year spans.  John participated.  At first everyone was shy to run against him but eventually 6 other guys came out.  He put his all into it, but only came in 4th place.  Some of John’s students were watching at the finish line.  It’s a good thing school is on break this week or they would tease him relentlessly and they still might.  I did not participate since I threw out my back a few days earlier sadly since I think I would have had a good chance.  Most of the women in my age category were in skirts and did not have shoes on while running on gravel.  I have to give them kudos for the valiant effort they put into it though.  Afterwards we ate and a band set up to play which was later followed by a football (soccer) match oon a pitch just out of town.  As we were leaving we thanked the councilor.  I mentioned that next year I plan on running and we will have to train up on sprinting since we normally run longer distance races.  He proceeded to announce over the PA that next year would include a 10k race.  Ha ha.  I really enjoy his spirit although he did a great job of embarrassing us thoroughly.  We stopped by the football match for about 10 minutes before heading home as it had been a long but wonderful day!
Us with Thato at the football pitch

John & Dick

Day 2 – October 1, 2012 – Horse Racing at Inalegolo
Talk about a great way to start the month.  I tagged along with a few friends to head to Inaleglo for something that all my fellow Louisvillians (not exclusively) would love…horse racing.  Sadly John was unable to make it due to a tutoring engagement. L  Now remember this is nothing like the horse racing at Churchill downs with all the polish, but it makes me wonder how close to horse racing of the past it was.  Thato & Francina pick me up around 7:15 and we hit the road after stopping by Kang for some airtime and a pie (Americans, this is nothing like our idea of a pie, it is more of a meal and completely awesome but that is another post) and continue on our way.  Inalegolo is about 2.5 hrs from Hukuntsi and 20-30 minutes down a gravel road which shakes my fillings out while I hope I have not directed Francine the wrong way. She is new to the area and Thato was riding in the bed of the truck being the kind gentleman he is (actually sleeping on the foam pad we threw in there to make it more comfy).  Eventually we come over the hill and see a cell tower…yeah we are not lost.  Pulling through Inalegolo which took about 1 minute since the settlement is only a few hundred we run into a tent where the event has just begun.  I eyed my friends, waved at them, and tried to catch as many words at possible (which was fairly low today due to my attention span).

As always the kick off included a few speeches, traditional dancing and a surprise (to me) show by Vee who is a great Motswana musical artist originating from my wonderful village.  People are crammed all around to see him perform along with some great dancers.  It is a mix of break dancing and miming…love it!  At one point during the show there were some teenagers behind me with a little girl of about 4 who sat in my seat while I was standing.  They realized I wanted t sit and pulled her away, so I let her sit in my lap forgetting how terrified a few kids are of me because I look so different than most people they know.  The poor girl was terrified, but sat calmly and no amount of encouraging made her comfortable with me.  Hopefully I have not scarred her for life, but luckily I saw her later and she did not run away or anything. 

Soon after the horse racing began.  Horses were paraded out in front of the crowd which just stood by the sidelines (marked by caution tape), they then walked down the straight track, and ran toward us (we were at the finish line).  Most races only had 3-5 horses and the jockeys were full grown men although one race had a youngish boy.  Often there were no saddles and men rode on blankets on the horses, some of which looked a little mangy, but the best looking horse did not always win.  It is interesting watching a horse race with little to no info about the horses or jockeys.  The crowd loved it and rivaled the cheering at Churchill although there were no bets made, just pure fun.  One lady who owned some of the horses always ran after her horse when it passed.  All in all there were about 7 or 8 races which lasted 3ish hours.  In between the races Vee and his crew manned the DJ stand and it turned into an all out dance party as often happens in events in Botswana.  While I did not dance at all, although Thato kept trying to talk me into it even though he had no intention of dancing, we sat around talking and laughing, people watching, and took lots of pictures of kids, dancing, and horses.
We all went to eat food prepared by the event coordinators.  During the race Francina went to run an errand for someone, which turned out to be picking up a slaughtered goat (luckily the blood was drained).  Surprise!  Ha ha.  I found a ride back with some of the people from Hukuntsi who work in the Council so we did not have to debate who was riding in the back with the dead animal.  Mmm mmm  I can tell I have acclimated to life here enough that I volunteered to (not that Thato would have let me) before we found the ride.   

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Yesterday Thato called me with some really bad news, Major Nelson Mautle passed away.  Major Mautle is one of my favorite people.  Maybe I should use was, but his passing away does not change that status.  The Major was one of the most driven people I have known, and in Botswana that is saying a lot.  He would get on to people about being late, not following protocol (which sometimes drove me crazy, but I understood why he did that), and just plain wasting time.  He spent 2 years in the US (1985-1987 I think) studying then came back to Botswana.  He spent some time in the military and worked with the government.  By the time I met him he was retired and had moved on to the next phase of life.  But retirement to him did not mean just sitting back and letting things happen, he wanted to make a change.  He served on the VDC (Village Development Committee), was head of Men’s Sector, always at the DMSAC and a part of pretty much everything going on in Hukuntsi.  In Botswana many people can serve on a council and not do anything, but not the Major.  He had a very distinct voice and I was assured to hear him outspoken at every event.  Sometimes it was calling out protocol issues, but normally it was pointing out obvious flaws in data or questioning how issues would be addressed.  Botswana has a strong passive aggressive culture.  Often people will not want to contradict anyone or swim upstream, but the Major was definitely a salmon especially if he saw ill affects to ignoring a problem. 

He also had high goals.  The first time I met him he brought up wanting help trying to get the desalination project restarted in Zutshwa.  Things kept getting in the way between me fracturing my foot and going to SA for surgery, him falling ill, and other obstacles.  This did not stop him from trying to get it accomplished, although I am afraid it might be out of the scope of what we can do during our short time here..  He did lots of research and last time I spoke with him he was still talking about it. 

One of my favorite memories of him was during the African Child Event.  We arrived at the Kgotla after it had started (we had not intended to go for the whole thing and just wanted to sneak in and watch from the back rather than getting put in a prominent position of VIPs as often happens).  At first we walked up to the outside of the Kgotla to scope it out and decide where to slip in.  The Major caught sight of us, yelled at us to come over (I had my shoe off trying to get a thlolele..probably really misspelled that but they are the spikeys all over the ground around here…out of my foot).  Since we did not come immediately, he walked over to the fence right through the middle of the event and cajoled us to come and sit mentioning that there were seats saved for us.  Honestly we should have known better, but I felt like a small child after that and am always sure to do what I know I should at events like that.  I laughed about that for a long time and still smile thinking about it.

He was constantly stopping in the office for business or just greeting me while passing by.  It always brightened my day.  He always a warm smile and a kind word. Since he has been ill I have noticed the difference that his not being around has made on me.
I really miss him and but am lucky to have known him.  Although I am not religious, I know he was.  I hope his life after death is everything he had hoped it would be.  His presence in my life, although short has made me a better person. He will always be with me in my memories.  My thoughts are with his family and although we are all mourning his death, I hope we will remember to celebrate his life.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Crazy long blog...long overdue

Sorry for the crazy long post.  It is a bit of a catch up post. The last week or 2 has been such an eventful and amazing time.  Here are the event breakdowns:

Wednesday August 22, 2012
I went with the DAC office and the DHMT to Monong (a small settlement of about 175 people) for an STI workshop.  This was a fun trip as I have not been to the settlement before.  Most events include speeches from many people normally including the Kgosi (village chief), a VDC member (village development council), a guest speaker (this time it was people from the DHMT - District Health Management Team), and a pastor.  There was also entertainment which included traditional dancing from the primary school students and a village elder playing a homemade fiddle.  Everyone got a kick out of the primary school dancing because one of the male students had to dance the female part of the dance.   Their rhythm was amazing!  The musician was great too and took me back to images of the rural south with the sound of his voice and instrument.  I can definitely see a connection between the traditional music here and a lot of the traditional blues in the US.

Next came the Setswamorago’s condom demonstrations while one of the nurses and I entertained the kids.  We played a version of duck, duck, goose using pitsa, pitsa, tau.  (zebra, zebra, lion…actually horse, horse, lion but zebra is horse with stripes and is way too long to say while tapping someone n the head).  The kids loved it and I loved watching them.  It is a great way to entertain kids ranging from standard 1 to standard 7.

Friday August 24, 2012
John & I went to Morwamosu to help a friend, Rachel, give out teddy bears to the kids at her school and those 6 & under in her village.  The first part of the event (for those under 6) was at the Kgotla.  The bears were hand knitted and donated by an NGO…what an amazing idea because I have almost never seen a kid have a stuffed animal or toy here except for the ingenious cars that are made out of wire and soda cans.  The only requirement was to take a picture of each child with the bear which is easier said than done for toddlers who aren’t quite sure what is going on.  The littlest ones were a little bit shook up and a couple started crying so the moms took them away for a moment and went back later once they had calmed down a bit.  The older ones loved it though and I later say one of the kids in tears playing with the bear so overall I think it was a hit!

Next we went to the school, were walked around to all the class rooms to meet the kids.  The amazing thing in some of the primary schools here is that even if a classroom is missing a teacher the kids normally try to teach each other or themselves.  There were a few classrooms missing teachers due to transfers and maternity leave.  Some students from higher grades were teaching the others (normally math and English).  After tea break, the kids lined up to get their teddy bears and the photo session began. 
Rachel & John after a long fun morning

After this we went to Rachel’s for lunch and then to catch a hitch back to Hukuntsi.  The amazing thing is that as we were walking up to the hitching post a vehicle pulled over to pick someone else and we took off running.  There was just barely enough room for all of us, but the vehicle had air conditioning (which is not often found) and great tunes.  We then switched hitches in Kang and only had to wait 45 minutes which is seldom heard of as well as getting a free hitch.  All in all it was a great day!

Tuesday August 28, 2012
Dika waiting to perform
During a conversation the previous day with a good friend of mine, One, I found out about the Ward level of a Youth Arts Competition that was going on that week and the regional level was happening the following week (Sept 8).  John & I went to Lehututu (a village about 10K away) and had a marvelous time.  We caught the combi there and were late going, so we were afraid we missed a bunch, but luckily we are on Africa time (the same as Island time for those of you who don’t know the Africa time phenomenon).  We got there in time to catch the end of the first part which was musician who occasionally sang.  The rest of the competition included poetry (not like US poetry readings it is almost a mix of poetry and drama), drama, traditional dancing, and choir.  Several of my friends were performing and I was glad not to have missed them, especially since some of them I have never seen perform before.

One in a skirt she borrowed from a friend
The traditional dancing was amazing too especially since the acoustics in the Kgotla caused my whole body to reverberate to the beats that were being clapped.  There are normally 2 differing beats being clapped creating a unique atmosphere.  Traditional dancing also has a bit of drama depending on what group is dancing and the type of dancing and attire varies region to region.  When I first came to Botswana I did not see/feel/hear the differences from dance to dance as well, but I am definitely getting the hang of identifying differences and knowing which groups are better than others and when possible mistakes are being made.  The Kgalagadi region really loves traditional dancing to the effect that the entire Kgotla filled as soon as people noticed the dance was about to begin and a large number left right after.

After the event we chatted with friends for a while and started making out way to the combi with a few friends.  While still a ways away One noticed the combi and said something to John about running to get it.  As you all know he is up to a challenge.  He took off running like a serious sprinter with the rest of us trailing behind.  When we all got there everyone was cracking up and one of our guy friends mentioned taking him to Zutshwa to go hunting with a spear.  I’d love to see that happen!! Apparently John did not know the combi had a stop and he was literally trying to catch the combi… ha ha ha.  I think he might have.

Wednesday August 29, 2012
I spent the morning at Makgakgane Primary School assigning a composition for the Standard 7 kids (similar to 6th or 7th grade in the US, but the age range is very different ranging from 12-18).  I am going to start working with these kids on English tutoring around once a week. I only spent about 15 minutes with them before assembly and was really just trying to get my bearings but it is always fun around the younger kids.

I had to leave for a Health Fair meeting, but later returned to show the HIV/AIDS club kids TeachAIDS.  Most of the kids in the club were Std 3-5 although almost every kid in the school wanted to be in the room.  They were even trying to climb through the window.  Mpho, the special Ed teacher (and friend) helped calm them down and kick those who shouldn’t be there out.  I showed the video, which is in Setswana, but has a section where it asks questions.  Almost all the kids answered right.  Afterwards I gave them a Q&A session.  A lot of them kept asking the same questions over and over and they even went to get a book to find questions.  I figured out that they really only wanted to hear me speak, so I let them ask me any questions after that.  A kid from outside came running in to get me saying they needed my help.  Apparently some kids got locked in a store room and the key was not working.  I went to get Steve to help and he was already on the case.

While all this was happening I walked across the campus to get something and was accosted by a mob of small children wanting to shake my hand. This is something to be careful with in relation to the young ones.  1 starts shaking your hand and before you know it you have 30 kids on each arm about to rip them out.  Just hope you have not eaten recently.  It is one of the funniest things I have ever experienced.  Then one of them wanted to touch my hair, so I let them…a mistake.  Before I know it the mob is trying to touch my hair or skin (they just want to know if it feels much different from their own. Most kids have not seen many white people before, especially one who is ok with it).  

It took about an hour but they finally got the trapped kids out there was an explosion of cheering from the room and all the kids.  The timing was lucky because it was time to go home for the day.  Mpho walked me and it was nice catching up with her.

Thursday August 30, 2012
In the morning I worked with a friend, Keba, to help her design a pamphlet for her business.  She then mentioned that the Youth Arts Competition was going to Monong and invited me to go with them, so I went.  Monong is about 40K down a pot holed gravel & sand road.  Depending on who is driving and who is in the car it can be a great or really long experience.  This time I was in the car with a pretty fast driver who knew the road well and a talkative crew.  I had never met them before but we all got along well and joked a lot.  Keba was in the other car with a few of the Lehutshelo teachers I know.  I had no idea they were coming so it was a pleasant surprise.

The atmosphere at the Kgotla is completely different than Lehututu which made the competition much more quaint and pleasant (not that the other wasn’t it just had a whole different flavor…kind of medium sized villageish).  This covered part of the Kgotla is very small and surrounded by sand with the wooden “fence” part of the Kgotla really close.  This made all of the performers extremely close and I ended up sitting right behind the judges.  I got to see the musicians within a few meters and the traditional dancers were a few meters farther away.  The first traditional dance troupe had a lot more drama than I have ever seen in a performance which I really liked, but I later found out that it should be more focused on the dance than the story. 

For the choir portion we had to move outside of the Kgotla because there was not enough room, so we were just sitting on the sand and the dancers performed on the sand.  I have never seen this on sand before. They are normally on concrete in the Kgotla which creates more of a drum sound from the feet.  I was amazed at how much of that they were able to keep on the sand. 

There was no drama or poetry performed here.  Next year I want to make sure that John has the ability to come to all of these too.  I will post more pics after the regional

Friday August 31, 2012
Wawa & Thato
I stopped by to visit Thato and help him with his computer.  While waiting for Avast to download (at excruciatingly slow rates), we spent the afternoon chatting and joking around.  John called at one time and mentioned another friend we were going to go with to Lehututu to see what we initially thought was a DJ ended up having to go out of town.  I asked Thato if he was interested, which he was.  We did some research and found out that it is actually the Tshane Police band. 

Around 9 Thato and Wawa, who was visiting him from Gabs, picked us up.  As is normal Bots fashion the band was late.  It should have started at 8 but actually went on at 10:30pm.  We went to the pan for a little while and just talked and joked around which was great so we got to know Wawa a bit. 
John in the dance competition
Then the madness began.  The band included horns, 3 guitars, a singer, and dancers.  The speakers were crazy large for a place so small and when they first started playing it was only a few of us there.  The bars close at 11 which is when people started packing in.  We had such a great time dancing and I got to see a bunch of people I know in a completely different atmosphere.  John and I did the 2 step swing to a song which caused everyone to be watching us, or so Thato says.  People do mostly club type of dancing here unless it is a wedding party that has choreographed something.  Everyone wanted a turn dancing with us (I don’t think anyone expected us to be there) and I got comments from people about it all week.  Late in the night John even was in a dance off which he claimed he lost, but I am not sure if that is true.  When he later watched the video I got he is not sure either. J  King of the dance floor!! Ha

Saturday September 1, 2012
Akiko wearing her present from co-workers

John & I went to a going away party for Akiko (Thato), the Japanese volunteer.  We didn’t stay super long as we did not get much sleep the night before due to the band, but we wanted to make sure to say good bye to her. By the time we got there the party had been going for a little while and there were pockets of dancing, a fire, the braii was going, and traditional food was ready.  We ate, had a few beers, and socialized for a little while.  Eventually my eyelids were taking over, as were John’s and we had to go or curl up in some corner.

Akiko was the dietician at the hospital and is a great person.  She also helped me with a few projects related to nutrition.  Although I didn’t get to see her too much I really enjoyed the time we spent together.  Akiko…I wish you the best in everything and hope to see you again in the future!

Sunday September 2, 2012
Morutwa & Zati
I went to check a friend who had a baby a couple months ago.  I spent a couple hours there and had a great time.  I have wanted to check her for a while, but have not made time.  Seeing her reminded me how much I miss her at the office.   Zati (might have spelled that wrong), her daughter, is adorable and I am excited to watch her grow into a little girl before I leave.

That evening Thato & Wawa came over to make pizza, hang out, and play games.  Although the dough did not want to rise, the pizza was still good.  We ate, laughed, talked, and ended up playing a few games of Pachisi.  John and I both were demolished during the games with Wawa winning the first and Thato winning the second.  Hmm, maybe next time we should play a different game.  I am beginning to get the feeling that we are just innately bad at Pachisi.  Dorcus almost always beats us when we play too and it was a new game to her too.  Sigh.