Tuesday, January 10, 2012

John's weekends

How I was spending weekends before school started back up: (School reopened today - 01.10.2012)
Two weekends ago:

It was a house day.  I made Chapattis (wheat flour tortillas) from scratch for the first time.  The Peace Corp put together a cookbook for the country that includes recipes that can be made from local ingredients.  I enjoyed a cup of coffee and listened to Django Reinhardt during the process, so I could not ask for a better morning.  When I walked out the front door a beautiful breeze was blowing and the temperature was pleasant also.

Other things on the agenda for the day: sweeping and mopping up the house (as you can image sand is always on the floor and gritty toes make housework seem like a good idea), sewing up a torn bag, making screens out of mosquito netting so we can leave the windows open at night, a little shopping, and some reading.  Tracy had lunch plans with a local lady that works at the grocery store too.

I cooked up the bread and it turned out pretty well for a first attempt.  We must have been hungry because we ate about a loaf between the two of us.  It is weird to spend 3 hours cooking and cleaning up to realize everything was for 15 to 20 minutes worth of eating.  We had a little bit of cheese so I made a cheese sandwich.  It was delicious.

Then we walked around and introduced ourselves to some neighbors.  It is considered polite (and expected) to just walk into someone’s yard and start a conversation.  I still don’t have the hang of it yet and some people only talk Setswana so it was good practice once I worked up the nerve.

Then there was this weekend:
Lots of animal incidents occurred.  We had chickens entering the house, donkeys braying outside our bedroom window, cows in the yard, and a scorpion in the house.  We had a hard rain and I think it drove the scorpion indoors.  I also heard a local bird whose song sounded like a dialup modem.  That or someone here has a dialup modem…

We played lots of board games and cards to stay entertained and then came the best entertainment of all.  I let Tracy cut my hair.  She used clippers for the whole thing and she did a great job.  It is a great way to reduce the heat and keeps the sweating down also.  I was a little worried, but now see we will save a fortune on haircuts when we return.

We have been having a lot of water outages and got lucky enough this weekend to collect water for washing up our clothes.  We got laundry done and filled up our reserve water buckets to make it until we have water again.

I love and miss you all,
John O.

New Year, football tourney (soccer in USA speak), shopping and everything else

For New Year’s Kabo and I just relaxed at home. On New Year’s Eve and day we went to see some of the final games of the local football tournament. Our ward has a team, the Sandies. Living in the desert and wading through sand just to exit our house, I would say it’s an apt name. We have begun to live by the idea that outside shoes are not worn inside. I can’t remember how many times we tried that in the US just to not have to sweep, but it never worked. Sand is an effective behavioral training aid for us, but I digress. We knew the field was on the other side of the pan, and it was a bit of a walk, but we left anyway because a walk sounded nice and there’s no public transit within Hukuntsi. To amuse ourselves we decided to play a guessing game … guess what I would have gotten you for Christmas. This deviated into ridiculous and hilarious things and helped us not concentrate on the extreme heat. Eventually we decided to try for a hitch after about an hour walk. Luckily we ran into a family heading that way that was just pulling out of their drive because we had turned the wrong direction and would have been hopelessly lost.

The tourney had a fee to get in and seemed to be a mix of tailgating, entrepreneurship, and game watching. Teams were mostly from the surrounding villages and Hukuntsi. Kabo and I were lucky enough to find fellow Sandies fans to sit with and talk to. People were selling everything from popcicles (the kind in baggies), grapes, beer, homemade alcohol, and most surprisingly, cooked fish. The games were a lot of fun and luckily we were able to hitch home.
Jan 2nd we took the day to go to Jwaneng to do some banking and shopping (that is our shopping village and the nearest bank/atm branch). We took the 6am bus to arrive in Jwaneng at 10am, met up with a couple other volunteers who needed to shop too, grabbed lunch, shopped, then took the 3pm bus back to Hukuntsi which arrived at 8pm. Nothing is easy here. The bus is a surreal experience. They blare music the whole time which is sometimes African pop and sometimes late 80’s/early 90’s music. Abba and Dolly Parton were in the mix this time as well. It’s amazing how small Botswana is. I have never ridden a bus were I didn’t know at least one of the passengers, not including other Peace Corps Volunteers.

Lately at work I have been spending a lot of time teaching people basic computer skills starting with typing, then Word and Excel. It’s amazing how motivated everyone is. Almost every day a new person asks for training and many are happy to spend hours a day working on it and have been progressing quickly. Two students have begun Word training and 1 has begun Excel training. This has been a great opportunity to get to know my co-workers better.
John has been busier lately too. Last week the teachers came back from holiday and the kids should be returning today so hopefully he will have some work stories to share soon.