Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday, Aug 20 2009

Hello Family! I can't tell you how much I miss you all, and am, once again, wiping away the tears as I write this after reading about news from home.

First things first: Peace Corps is not responsible for anything I post on this blog.

Secondly, please, all of you, quit sending me American stamps. They do not work here. I will save the forever stamps b/c I'm told at some point I will use them when people return to the states and can "carry" them for me. But for now, I can only use SA stamps.

My whole postage/stamp situation is ironic bc This first 8 weeks will really be the only time I'm relying on snail mail. After the 15th or so of Sept, I'll have a cell phone--YAY! Postage is pricey here and we're only allotted a "walk around allowance" which is 100 rand a week. It costs me 20 rand to buy postage for three mailings.

Have you guys gotten any news from me by mail? I'm mostly sending to Deanna as she can spred the news to everyone. But Kim, I sent you a postcard, Mom, you one too (but worry I didn't have correct postage) and the Bonnie Wademan bunch (thanks for the card--I loved it.)

So far, I've only received two letters from D and read them over and over. I had no idea how much I would be moved by news from home. I crave every nugget. And again, by the time you read this and all of you feel moved to send me mail, I will have a cell phone and lots more money to mail cards/etc.

Also, I understand that calls from my cellphone to the states will be very expensive but that I can receive incoming calls for free. I'm worried that an international call from the States is very pricey as well... Could someone do a bit of research for me? One source told me a call to Africa from the States is $10. I do hope it is not that much.

My African mother taught me how to do laundry on Sunday and it isn't as bad as I thought it would be (and will be much easier than how I've been attempting it on my own. She "washes" in one tub w/ laundry soap (she uses a flat board to scrub on... She was letting me try it, but was quickly disatisfied with my efforts and relegated me to rinsing). She had two other tubs for rinsing twice. I learned that rinsing is really the trick, so no wonder the washing machines have 2 or more rinse cycles. I really miss my energy-efficient washer...

She also wasn't crazy about how I hung the clothing to dry, and came behind me "fixing" my arrangements.

I've felt very guilty with all of the brand new things that have come with me from America. In fact, I often feel like Karen Blixen with her crystal and china when I open my suitcase full of goodies and gadgets (batteries, over-the counter pain reliever, etc.). But I was greatly pained to see my brand-new clothes hanging along side with my African family's. Many of their clothes are in tatters. It breaks my heart to think of the clothing I sent to Goodwill before I came.... I wish I had brought those items with me to Africa.

I've had a rough week emotionally, probably because Chris turned 22 this week. It was so hard to be so far away from him and to not be able to call. Can someone (D?) phone him and tell him I was thinking of him all day?

I've also missed Marilyn's, Helens, and Kristin's. Kim, I will miss yours as well (but will be thinking of you ALL DAY on Monday), Kara's, and Mom's. Mom, maybe I'll have a phone in time for yours!

But mostly, I miss you all dreadfully. I knew I would.

Tammy, happy wedding day! I wish I were there for you!

I'm also missing the Gillian Welch/Davod Rawlings show on the waterfront. How was it?

And of course, I'll miss the big bike ride that Deanna and a bunch of my peeps will be riding in. (Including my uncle Terry, who is a cancer survivor--among many other wonderful things).

I haven't taken my camera out because I'm so conscious of me being the "haver" against my family who are the "have nots." But I've borrowed a friend's field guide and have seen the following if any of you have time to google images.

First, and sadly, I'm too far south for the baobab. I'm terribly sad about this but hope I will be able to see some in my travels.

Along that line, I'm told, although I haven't seen any evidence of this yet, that I can do lots of camping/hiking here, and hopefully will see bunches of cool stuff someday. As far as cool African game, I've read that the cool animals are restricted to wildlife reserves.

But I have seen some cool stuff. But remember, I'm easily entertained... I stopped traffic in AK because I was admiring a magpie. (He WAS magnificent!)

cattle egret: they stand by the cows and eat the ticks off of them! COOL!

gray go away bird: this is a grey bird that has a crown and a long tail. I swear I've seen this one in zoos. It gets its name from its call: gweey (go away). I like this bird very much.

crimson breasted shrike. Love this bird too. He has a bright red belly. (But his call reminds me of the pathetic cry Deanna's little yellow finch made back in June. Is he still hanging out D?)

Blue waxbill: a beautiful little bluebird the color of the sky.

Pied crow. I know, it's a crow. But he is BEAUTIFUL. They soar in the sky hear like our hawks back home and they're black with a white belly and collar. They are very striking.

White browed sparrow: lovely little sparrow with a striking mark on its head

White faced whistling duck: I watch these guys at the "damn." (That's what the people here call the pond.) They look exactly like that: a duck with a white face that whistles.) They love to fly as a flock over the pond and soar and soar together.

My favorite so far: a grey heron. He's a magnificent bird that reminds me of our great blue heron. We only have one at our pond and I can watch him for hours.

Cactus here literally grow on trees. It was weird to see a prickly pear cactus growing out of a tree trunk! Other more regular type cactus grow here as well: naboom, and queen of the night.

Trees I've been able to identify so far include:
umbrella thorn (there are lots of thorn trees here, but it is winter. Trees are hard for me to id in the winter and hope to be able to identify more as spring arrives and things begin to bloom).

sacred coral: favorite so far b/c it is blooming. It reminds me of our saucer magnolia that has the beautiful pink blossoms before they leaf out. This tree has beautiful fuschia blossoms before the tree leafs out.

A lot of cool aloes too. I've seen one type that grows 8' tall. But another grows out of a tree trunk: eastern tree aloe. Another cool one: mountain aloe.

more trees:
matumi, jacaranda (some of these are beginning to bloom), English oak (an import), weeping willow, small knobwood, and paperbark thorn.

I think I've spoken a bit about two of my favorites that are grown here, and seem to grow year-around: geraniums and marigolds. I found marigolds at the primary school I'm observing and cried when I realized what they were. I couldn't believe it.

Mammals and such, sorry guys. Again, I haven't seen any of Africa's BIG FIVE. But I've seen plenty of mammals: cows, donkeys, goats. A few dogs and cats (actually, my family has a cat--a black cat and I was surprised by this. I was told naitive people don't like cats. Actually, it's kind of funny. My bonus dad hated cats while we were growing up and then took a surprising turn later in life and has become quite fond of them. I'm reminded of my bonus dad when my African dad coos to the cat. Actually, I don't think my ma and go go (grandma) care much for the cat. And I smile too, watching the cat eagerly lap up bogobe (pap) while Deanna ususally struggles at home trying to get the dogs to eat expensive dog food.)

Oops, I digressed. Most of the families in my village have cattle. The cattle live in the bush but are rounded up every day and are walked to my "damn" (my pond) for water. I was there yesterday, trying to have a quiet lunch when at least 20 farmers brought their cattle. It was amazing to see so many large animals being handled by one man with a stick (or whip). Amazing.

My family also has goats and chickens. I feel sorry for the goats as they are confined in a small space and lie in their own excrement. (But they too, are released everyday to forage/feed.) I like watching the chickens because they are everywhere and are so new to me. There are usually a couple of hens leading a batch of peeping chicks around too.

I wouldn't want to be an animal here, b/c life is very hard for them. But of course, the same can be said about the people who live here too.

I hear jackals at night crying out in the bush. I didn't know what these calls were until recently when my African father explained to me. (don't worry tho, my African father refuses to allow me to go out at night, even for the toilet. I use something akin to a chamber pot--we all do.)

There are some rather interesting insects that hang out in the pit-toilet. I'll leave these for your imagination. I don't remember these from home. :-)

The mosquitoes aren't bad here yet, but that is because it is winter. I hear they are on their way. :-)

I'm all typed out today, but want to tell you of my experiences in the schools these last few weeks. I'll save that for next time.

Again, know I am will and miss you dreadfully, k


  1. I won't send you USA Stamps, but you can do me a favor. Both the grandsons (Manabu and Kenta) collect stamps and so does my mother. I did when I was a kid and still have my collection (somewhere). I always loved the ones from foreign countries because they were always so much more colorful than ours.

    If you see any that are realy unique (of course just being from South Africa is unique) would you pick some up for the boys? I will send money however you want. You don't have to go to the trouble of mailing them. You can send them home when you send other things to your Mom and she can get them to us.

    We miss you, but of course, just like when you were in Alaska, we are havig a great time living vicariously through your stories and descriptions! Keep them coming.

    Love, Aunt Susie and Uncle Larry

  2. Hello Molebeong!

    It is so good to hear from you. Just when I think I can't miss you more, you send word. Letter #3 came today and I will answer and get answers for you from those you ask about. I will make copies for your Mom and Sister. It is a real pleasure to see your handwriting again. I will share that with those who wish it. Will my letters forward to your new station?

    The cicadas are still here and I think of you each time I hear them. There was a cedar in the graveyard tonite that was stuffed with them and we stopped respectfully to listen. There are some now outside the window.

    You MUST get pictures of your family! We want to see them and as much of the dwelling you share with them as decorum allows. Also, don't forget the little girl who stole your heart! Pictures of the bugs in the loo would be appreciated as well. You know who would not be happy to share that space, however.

    Sorry about the stamps...I suggested that to whomever sent them although some may have done it on their own.

    Thank you so much for the lovely, long post. We will all greedily read and re-read it as well. We are all starved for news from you more than you can imagine. You will get a full report from the homefront by snail mail. We are plugged-in here at the house now so I will be stalking the net more often for news from you.

    Keep your beautiful chin up. It is clear that you have had a rough week. They will be few and far between, I bet! You are so brave. Our own hometown Ambassador. Louisville! Alaska! Africa! The World! Our prayers and love are with you always.


  3. Wow!! What beautiful things you are seeing, and allowing us to see them along with you. Love the birds, so colorful and different from ours.

    We are having an early fall season. It is cool, highs in the 70's, and wonderful. May not last, but really nice weather. Most of the veggies are gone, but it has not been a good season. The cool nights that we had mid summer stopped most blooming, and the rain, and humidity was not good for anything. My friends who have gardens have not had much produce. I have had enough, and have given away a lot in my baskets, but not the yield I thought. I love fall, but the downside is that winter is right around the corner. I'm hoping that your spring is coming, and it is not so cool for you.

    You sounded a bit down, but I know you are homesick, as I am homesick for you. Hopefully you will fit in soon, and not miss home so much. We are all rooting for you!

    You remember how Kim cried for months when Michael left ? Remember when she was blue when Kara left? Now she sounds thrilled that all have left, and she is an empty nester. She called Friday from Lexington, laughing and sounding very up. They had taken a load for both girls, and the truck had broken down. She was laughing as she followed the truck being hauled in for repairs, and said she was going shopping while it was being fixed!!But then in a few days things will be back to normal, and I am sure she will miss them.

    We are all sharing your news, and everyone is enjoying your letters. I know it is hard for you to write at times, so we will cherish what you can write. The sisters at the Mount are in love with you and ask for every word you send. Mom says she reads and rereads them, and most friends say they feel like they are there with you, as your letters are so descriptive, and heartwarming.

    D has been talking with me about coming to visit you next summer. I hope you understand, but I am sure we would not be able to come for health reasons. Also we really do not have the money. Deanna offered to pay one of the tickets. But we cannot do that. Not that we wouldn't like to come to see you!!

    Remember how much you are loved, and what an experience this is. Everyone sends their love, even those who do not know you.

    I sure wish I had more interesting things from Kentucky. Our lives are the same ole, same ole. (but we love it)

    And we MISS you.

    love you so much

  4. Oh, and by the way, when you were a baby, and I had no washer, I went to Gr. Simon's to wash. She immediately took over the washing process (ringer washer). When I was hanging the clothes, she came right behind me to hang them properly. I still watch the way I hang clothes, a lesson learned well.
    love you again