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.


  1. Jody read your post to me while I was at work at UofL. It was wonderful to hear from you and to have Jody read it to me. You have become larger than life here and she made it personal in doing that. You will be meeting with the chief of the village that will serve as your host family for 2 months. Is that correct? And then you will move on to another village and repeat but without a host family? Then you will get your own domicile? It is impossible to try to imagine what you are experiencing and feeling. Everything must be like music you have never heard. I hope there is music and dancing and that the colors are manna that will sustain you if you are afraid. I am keeping you in my heart and loving you as always. It has been raining 3 days out of each week here and the tomatoes don't ripen. There are plenty of green beans and the okra is spectacular. I spent the whole day today cleaning up the yard. Remember what the overgrown bricks and curb was like and add 2 weeks. Timmy gave me a great weedeater. Joe and I went to the farmer's market on Bardstown Rd. and I got some garlic and a sweet onion and 2 Japanese and 1 Chinese eggplant. Nancy Farmer sent me some forever stamps for you and I will include them in my next letter. Letters from here are .98 cents as long as they are 1 oz. in weight or less and we are able to get the stamps in that denomination. I can send some if you can't get them. Just let me know. I gave Aunt Bea these instructions and have promised to go over and show her your blog. Will be awaiting your next post. Be brave and let God precede you in everything. Breathe. Celebrate each moment. I love you.

  2. I posted this Friday, and now I cannot find it. Could someone let me know what I am doing wrong?

    Hello from hot, humid, rainy Kentucky. We miss you so much, but your post was a joy. There is so much we want to know, but that will come in time.

    Have you seen the balboa tree?

    Our weather here has been the pitts. My tomatoes have the "MANGE", but are still producing. I cut a lot back, and have fertilized them hoping for new growth. I picked about 1/2 bushel today, and have dried about a bushel so far. Many to give away, and I am having such fun with the baskets. All are very tasty.

    Beans are doing good, and we have eaten all we want, and giving away a lot. Jillian is a vegetarian, and I have sent her a lot of produce. Zuchinni and spaghetti squash are abundant.

    Everyone is healthy and doing well. Kara's last test came back clear, and of course we are relieved. Such a worry. Kristy is maybe doing good. She went to rehab, and is being more pleasant. Grandma said to tell you hello, and I am taking a printed copy of your post to her next Wednesday.

    I found Marapyane on the map. But I haven't found photos yet. So, is the "meeting the chief" a big deal?

    I'm very glad your knitted goodies are coming in handy. Perhaps if you had known how they were needed, I could have provided more. Before you know it, it will be so hot, you will wonder that you were cold!!

    Dee and I have stayed in touch, and promised each other, that when we heard from you we would call. I knew she didn't have internet connection at home, so I read your blog to her. She was very happy, and cried.

    I do not know for sure if this will be on your blog, so will send it email also. There are so many things I want to tell you, but my mind is blank, and I am still excited to hear from you and know you are okay.

    Stay safe and warm and know I am sending love from everyone.

  3. wow!! triple wow.
    give us some words in your new language, i want to try them, if you can type them phonetically.

    and paint me a picture of where you are staying.

    while parts of Louisville flooded on tuesday, including the basement of the main library, all is well on ash street. parts of town got 6 inches of rain in ONE HOUR!

    i miss you!