Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday? the 30th?

OMG, what DAY IS IT?

Hi everyone. I feel stunned. We've been "disconnected" (read: no phone, no internet, etc.) for a week and I've just stumbled upon a WHOLE computer lab!! I'm not sure I should get used to such luxury...

In fact, I only today had access to snail mail stamps and am still trying to figure out how much postage, etc.

Wow. What can I say? It is REALLY different here. Mom, everyone is cold so they are coveting my lovely scarf, hats, handwarmers, socks, etc. (They are admiring your handiwork as well; lot's of knitters, crocheters on board.) PLEASE DON't SEND MORE. We are charged a fortune for incoming packages.

The hankies that you bestowed upon me (that I rolled my eyes at) are VERY HELPFUL!

It is cold here at night: around 35-40 degrees, which doesn't sound so bad, but there is no heat or insulation air in the buildings so the buildings get (and stay) bone chillingly cold. But it warms nicely in the day in the sun and I'm assured that the very hot summer is on the way.

I wish I had brought the skirt you had given me (the one I didn't want and didn't bring). It would have been helpful for meeting THE CHIEF! I must be wearing a skirt when I meet the chief of my village so I've been in a panic trying to find one. I bought one yesterday at the "strip mall" for 80 rand (around 12 dollars, I think). It is a beautiful chocolate brown, (yes, my color), velvety, long-flowing skirt w/ smatterings of black sequin-like decoration. Of course, my heart fell when I read the tag: made in China. Hopefully, I'll find an African-made garment at some point.

And the "mall" was more like a strip mall combined with a flea market: lots of "vendors" selling on the sidewalk, etc.

I will be working in a village and living with a host family. I will meet them, and go home with them on Saturday. We're not supposed to say exactly where we are, but I think it's ok to say I'm in Marapyane (north of Pretoria near the Limpopo border).

There are beautiful, beautiful birds here that no one seems to know the name of. When asked, a African gentleman replied: "We do not name our birds here." :-( Should have brought a field guide but they are very heavy, so perhaps this too, I can pick up at some point.

Am learning Setswana and feeling like I'm drowning in it. When I try to say "thank you" to the people, they giggle. When I try again, they giggle harder, so I quit trying. But am not giving up.

Please excuse my writing today. I'm fried (It's 5:30 pm here, we've been training all day) and am trying to compose quickly. Am not sure when they will boot me out.

They do garden here--yay! There is a geranium 3 feet high here on the compound. There is a garden but it is surrounded by razor wire 7 feet high. I'm not sure why the razor wire, but the grazing animals (cows, donkeys) roam freely looking for food. I'm sure fresh chard would be welcome for them.

Thanks D, for the updates. I'm glad to know Sparky is still full of antics and that the Bernheim Bunch went hiking. Tell Joe that although I missed him, I understand. Happy new grandchild!

What else? I've been vaccinated for: yellow fever, typhoid, hep B, and rabies. At least more rabies are to come (a series of 3 shots). I'm told that these diseases are not found in this country, but are found in bordering countries (Botswana, Namibia, etc.) and that the PC is overly cautious. I'm all about having the shots. We will not be near a malaria-ridden area, so won't be taking anti-malarials. Yay!

What else? Gosh, I can't believe I'm sitting at a computer. I didn't think I'd see one for awhile. I WILL have a cell phone by the end of September, so phone communication, as I know it, will be restored. Still don't know if I need to buy a computer/laptop, etc. If I have access at my school(s), I won't need to buy one.

What else?
Would love to hear from home if you can post. Please know I can't reply to you individually (for now) but will when I can. I love to hear news from home.

No one knows of Kentucky except through Kentucky Fried Chicken. Curses!

There are around 40 of us here. There are 6 married couples, which is much higher than the PC norm. We had seven married couples, but one dropped out in Washington. We also lost another gentleman and one woman never showed.

Many of you know I have special needs around food and eating. I will be fine, especially when I'm in my own site, but it is a meat-eating country that loves starch so it seems. I'm used to eating a plant-based diet (LOTS of vegetables) so I've learned to pass on the three kinds of starch to eat mostly veggies with a bit of meat. The starch that I can have is fine for me. I've taken to hoarding fruit in my room but need to quit: there is plenty of fruit and fruit juice.

So I'm fine, fine, fine. They keep us very busy with "school." I'm hoping to have a bit more time once we move from the dormitories and in with our host families, but we do have 6 more weeks of very intense training.

Hopefully, you'll hear much more from me in October.

S. Africa is hosting the world cup next year, so July will be a big party month and we're told we're likely to have most of the month off.

I'm outta here for now! Am thrilled to be posting! Huge hugs to everyone! k
disclaimer: Peace Corps is not responsible for anything I think, feel, misspell, etc. The embarrassment is all mine.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

2nd day w/ Peace Corps

Feel much better bright and early. Slept well, (like a stone), breakfasted, caffeinated, logged in. :-)

Small children w/ mom on plane yesterday:
mom: do you know where we are?
kids: Washington, DC
mom: do you know who lives here?
kids: Barack Obama
one of the kids: Can we go see him? :-)

Have been aware of feelings as I've left family/friends. Almost bawled like a baby the last time I hiked w/ my hiking buds. (But must have been hormonal; this reaction didn't really occur any other time.)

Almost cried w/ my grma.
Felt sick to my stomach when seeing mom for the last time.
Then, had a panic attack. (But I was inside Wal-mart. A panic attack is typical for me inside a Wal-mart.) :-)
Almost cried w/Deanna at airport (but was trying to be "strong.")

Bawled like a baby, sitting at my window seat identifying landmarks while flying out of Louisville. I love Louisville. Miss it already.

Am off to cancel my health insurance plan. I'm Peace Corps problem now! :-)

Huge hugs, karen
disclaimer: words/experiences my own, not Peace Corps approved.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

1st day on the job

I'm in Washington, DC for my Peace Corps orientation. The flight was BEAUTIFUL! We flew over the nation's capital, I got to see the Washington Monument, Jefferson/Lincoln Memorials/Capital Bulding all from the air! We flew right down the middle of the Potomic (sp?). It was so beautiful I cried!

Lot's of "convention" type stuff today, lot's of "break out sessions," group work, etc. I hate hotels. I hate conventions, but am doing fine.

Get a shot for yellow fever tomorrow, then more vaccinations when we arrive "in country."

My accent's already drawing attention. Funny, I don't think of myself as having an accent but folks are sure ready to point it out!

Not too much embarrassing bumbling in the airport. I was overly fascinated with the high-tech hand-dryers in the airport restroom.

Am off for my last bath in America for awhile.

And I'm supposed to make a disclaimer that I am, in no way, speaking for Peace Corps. All of the embarrassment is mine. Huge hugs, k

Thursday, July 16, 2009

July 17, 09 am a week away from Africa

Ok, so I'm trying to figure out a way to stay connected to my friends/family as I embark upon a new adventure: spending two years in South Africa and working with Peace Corps. This is my attempt at a blog, so bear with me...

I have Facebook and love Facebook, but I have friends/family that hate anything needing a log-in, so here goes. This is for you Aunt Bea.

I'm a notorious party grump but my family threw me a farewell party on Saturday. I'm such a notorious party pooper that my Aunt Kate has invited me to at least 5000 parties, of which I maybe attended two, and my former boss, Claudia McCrocklin with the Langsford Center, has actually paid me to attend a party. That's how much I don't like parties.

So, two of my favorite people on the planet, Deanna and Kim (my sister) threw this fabulous to-do and 60 of my peeps showed up to hug me goodbye. It was wonderful, it was perfect in every way, they worked their rear ends off for months, I showed up, had a great time, and now am exhausted.

The reason of the to provide an opportunity for good-byes. However, not everyone could come. In fact, a lot of people couldn't come. Now,I'm deluged with requests from family and friends wanting to see me off. I want to, but can't; there isn't any time. Ahhhhhhhh!

So, anyway, I'm packing and telling everyone, "would love to, but can't." What's a girl to do? I feel lucky, blessed, and wealthy in love, friends, family.

How's that for blogging? k