Thursday, April 8, 2010

between-term (Easter) holiday

After our training at the end of March, we returned to our sites with the 2-week between-term holiday (Easter) already in progress.  As is often the case, if we have time to travel after a training, many volunteers opt to travel.  Many of our Peace Corps volunteers travelled from Rustenburg to Sabie, South Africa, a great place to see the sights of Kruger National Park and Blyde River Canyon.

I, my usual boring little self, wanted to return to my site.  :-)

There were several reasons for my wanting to return to site: a) I've discovered that holidays are a delicious time to be living on my college campus as all students have gone away for holiday and it is blissfully quiet; b) I've horribly regretted the community garden because I've been swamped with school and was quite looking forward to having my hands in the soil; c) we had this dreadful quarterly report for Peace Corps needing filing by April 1; and d) I wanted time to prepare for my term two classes, now that I know what I'm doing in regards to teaching.

So, after a wonderful weekend trip visit with my friends Tim and Liz, I returned to my site.  Once here, I was horrified to learn that a very, very large church group had booked the campus, including the dormitories, and would be my housemates for the ENTIRE week of Easter.  They were as boisterous, if not more so, than the college kids ever are.  There went one week of solitude.

And, to make matters worse, unfortunately for me, I've not felt myself since returning to site, and have not felt up to working in the garden.  To make this disinterest worse, the garden is woefully overgrown with weeds and any hope of mulching it with yard debris was crushed when I realized that the yardmen were careful to burn all yard debris before leaving for holiday.  Grump!

I did the dreaded quarterly report for Peace Corps, hoping it would take a few minutes.  It took four hours!  I did this lovely task on Easter Sunday.  :-)

And here I am, into days away of the new term beginning, and still not feeling up to the task of preparing my classes.

At first I thought I was getting physically sick: overwhelming fatigue, sore throat, chills, loss of appetite, etc., so off to bed I went for a couple of days.  I did the whole garlic/cayenne pepper thing (am sure I smell absolutely LOVELY) and have drunk gallons and gallons of herbal tea, especially designed for this type of thing and faithfully mailed to me by a family member.

So, I did the stay in bed thing for a couple of days, the sore throat went away but I was still left with the fatigue and loss of appetite.  I forced myself out to the garden, hoping it would help, but it didn't.  Another volunteer visited yesterday and we walked to the post office and that helped a bit, I think.

So, the only big task I have left of my holiday is course preparation, which is feeling urgent now, since courses resume on Monday.  I'll pull it out, I'm sure, as I always do.

The other thing that is very likely to be going on, is I crash and burn after an intense round of work or crisis.  At the end of last term, I knew I was over-working and not taking care of myself, but I kept my eyes on the prize and knew the end of the term was coming, so I kept pressing.  When the term finally concluded, off I went to training for a week, and needed to keep my momentum going even further for Pilanesberg.

So, these last two weeks may simply be the colliding of the train cars piling up on me since the speeding car had stopped.

But I do have some photos to show you.  The above, is one of my ever-ongoing, jaw-dropping sunsets.  Isn't it lovely?

And below are some snaps of my barren herb bed and how it fared this season.  I must confess that I planted very late in the season, when it was already too hot and too dry, so my herb beds didn't fare well.  Marigolds did well though, eh?  And I was also thrilled that the "weedy thing that I didn't know what was" turned out to be borage. Although borage is considered an undesirable to some gardeners (because it is a determined grower), it does attract bees and other beneficials.  Why I am especially excited is that the flowers are edible and I'm hoping to convince the hospitality program to add the flowers to their lovely dishes as a garnish.  And borage is hardy and practically indestructible, so now that it is established, I should have borage for many years to come now!  :-)


And below is the only living thing remaining from my mulching experiment with the village woman and her tomatoes.  I planted a marigold as natural pest control and, as you can see, it thrived.  The tomatoes did not, largely in part I like to think, because she had me remove the protective mulch.  But I think the photo demonstrates how the mulch was effective with weed control.  See all of the bare, brown dirt around the marigold?  And all the weeds growing in the background?  Guess where the mulch was?

And below is a shot of my Setswana tutor's campaign poster.  He's running for a student government position.  I particularly appreciate his motto, "Together we can steal more." Nice.

And lastly, the photos below show the how of South African rural village landscaping.  The  "lawn" on the left has been cleared to expose only the red dirt under the grass line.  Most rural South African yards are landscaped in this way.  The villagers remove any grass or anything growing so snakes have no where to hide and can be easily seen.  (No one currently lives in the "portacamp" on the right, hence the grass is allowed to grow.  They call "trailers" or "mobile homes" portacamps here.)

Off to prepare for term two classes!

Soon, Karen


  1. This is out in left field, but, what are you watering your edible herbs with? Is it possible you are getting sick from eating from fouled water? You know how you won't use pesticide, I don't know if water works the same to contaminate. Just a thought.

  2. I guess that can't be it, though, since you are eating from the community garden? Are you sure that's borage?

  3. I'm sure it's borage.

    What are you talking about!! I water my herbs and edible flowers with water from the tap.

    I'm meticulous with my drinking/cooking water at "home." (Boil it and filter it.)

    I think my system may be revolting at how "healthy" I'm trying to make it with my new "health" regimen: raw garlic, raw carrots, and a Centrum +50 a day... especially the raw garlic, since I've avoided it like the plague for 10+ years...