Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hurry up and wait...

I may need to end abruptly, as I may be shooed out of the library soon...

As always, Peace Corps is in no way connected to this post. All error is mine!

This is a shot of the "spanish lavender" I tried to grow back home. It grows well here--even in the dead of winter! So maybe I'll have another chance...

Mom, did yours make it?

This shot was actually taken at a Backpacker's hostel--where we overnighted in Pretoria when I caused my whole group to be late. :-)

So, Peace Corps released me to this wonderful site to live and learn with South Africans. I'm all pumped, ready to go, only to arrive to: a 10-day holiday in honor of the third term's ending. So, I'm feeling like "all dressed up and nowhere to go."

It is quiet now, the students have all gone home! And I'm sure I will be able to find something to do!

I attended a Heritage Day celebration at my primary school today. Three hours of singing and dancing! I wish I had taken my camera! The kids were wonderful!

I'm still feeling kind of shy about carrying my camera around and explicitly taking picture. I haven't quite accepted the fact that I'll be assumed a "rich American" no matter what I do, but I worry a camera would only aggravate the situation.

It's hard enough to say no to pan-handlers in the States; it's super dooper hard here.

Everyone here believes that all Americans are rich and that all Americans are white. This is because, I am told, of American TV.

I haven't seen South African TV yet (it was blissfully broken in my host-family's home) but hear it is as ridiculous as American TV. Apparently, my fellow volunteers had a great time watching the very popular South African "soapies": Generations and Scandal.

A former volunteer has advised that when asked if all Americans are rich, I'm to ask if they watch Generations (to which they will certainly reply "yes") and then say something along the lines of, "Are all South Africans rich? They certainly appear to be on Generations." Or some such.

Regardless, I can talk until I'm blue in the face about how "NOT RICH" I am and it is not believed. But if I'm to think carefully, I am VERY RICH when compared to most of the South Americans I have met so far.

Just like in the States, those that live in poverty have cell phones. A family will forgo food, socks, shoes, etc., but all will have a cell phone and electricity to charge it. I can't lay blame here; my cell phone has become my most important possession as my one constant link back home.

Am glad all are happy with the pics. I need to take more. Those posted were just catching up on where I've been. I must say I'm feeling much more at home, especially with blogging, email, Facebook, etc. I'm a lucky girl. I thought I would want to escape all of the technology, but am finding it immensely comforting.

I've finally unpacked completely and am cleaning in stages. (Otherwise, it is too overwhelming.) Peace Corps asks you to pack two bags when you come to Africa for two years. To make matters even more challenging, we are asked to sort these bags into two categories: essential and non-essential. The non-essential bag remains in Pretoria while we are in training.

So, I've recently opened my non-essential bag and was wondering what was in it, since I'd long ago forgotten. I was surprised: yes, I did bring a swimsuit. The swimsuit would have come in handy for the two times I had access to a swimming pool. Peace Corps mercyfully throws you a bone or two: stays in nice hotels when we are transitioning. We stayed at a nice hotel during the supervisor's workshop (when I visited my permanent site for a week) and at Swearing In.

Now that I've passed these two goodies, it's not likely that I'll need a swimsuit again any time soon. :-)

Also, I had my regular batteries in my non-essential bag and my rechargeable ones in my essential. I would have been much better off if this were the other way around. :-)

And my camping gear. Yay! I can't wait to figure out how to go camping, but I WILL figure it out! Actually, the Backpackers accomodations are very reasonably priced and are found throughout South Africa. I must, must, must see a baobab tree while I'm here. I've read that there is an ANCIENT one--and it's HUGE--in the Limpopo province. I'm there!

Everyday here, around 1:30, a huge African wind stirs up. (It makes me think of the song "Hickory Wind" although Africa is so far away from South Carolina!!) It is quite strong and the whole of the afternoon is hot and blustery.

I've asked if there are tornadoes here. I'm told there are not but wonder when my windows are rattling and things are flying about.

From what I gather from observations, the Tswana people are afraid of the wind. When riding the taxi (which is not a taxi at all, but a very crowded mini-bus), Americans want the windows open (there is no air-conditioning) but the Africans insist that the windows be closed. This is true especially if there are babies on board: the Africans believe the wind coming in the windows will make the baby sick.

And speaking of babies: the babies here are wrapped like they are in Antartica instead of Africa! Thick baby suits with sleeves and hats... And then bound to their mothers in thick blankets. I feel suffocated just looking at them.

So, I've not encountered any scorpions in my new abode just yet, but I did get an interesting visitor last night: a flying roach-like insect that looked very much like the things in the toilet back in the village. (Which makes me wonder: did the ones in the toilet fly?)

So as I type, I can hear Deanna say, "did you get a picture?" No, I did not get a picture; I was afraid it would fly at me. But I will try, if I get another chance...

When my boys were very small, I was running around trying to kill a similar insect in the apartment we lived in off of Third Stree. It looked very much like a roach but I had never seen a roach fly. After the escapade, I did a bit of research. From what I remember, it was called a "wood roach." I had never seen another one--thank goodness--until now.

So, I was trying to decide if I wanted to kill it (it was awfully big and I didn't want to deal with the squish), try to catch it and let it go (yes, I'm known to do this with bees, spiders, etc, but have yet to try this with roach-like creatures), or let him be and hope he stayed on his side of the room.

I was not up for an adventure, so I let him be.

This morning, when I awoke, he seemed to be gone. When I went into the bathroom, I saw that he had only changed locations: he was now in my bathtub.

I felt somewhat rested and went about catching him to let him go. He was near the drain and I put an inverted cup over him to catch him. I couldn't believe it but he squished himself small enough to get through the hole in the drain.

Oops, I'm outta here, more later, k


  1. We had/have wood roaches at the lake, and yes, they do fly. And yes, they are very large. I remember, not fondly, of my 4 daughters fighting them in the loft (we only see them at night). You guys would run across the floor screaming, and bashing the walls!! I only see them outside on the decks now, and very rarely, thank goodness.

    No, my spanish lavender did not make it. All the rest did. I wanted to cry when it dried up. It is so beautiful. Perhaps it takes a dry place?

    Please feel better, and if you get a chance check out the ride for cancer posts on Terry/Jennifer's facebook. They were awsome, and I am so proud of them.

    As always, Your Mom, sends much love and all comments are from me...........

  2. Oh, I forgot, keep your tub and sink stopper in, as the wood roaches are known to come through the drains.