Monday, May 24, 2010

Home Sweet Home Revisited: Unpacking, moving in, and slaughtering a sheep

The photo is a shot of the (rural) South African version of junk day: I’m handing off most of the “furnishings” from the former occupant of my new home. First come, first served… If you want it at home, YOU pay for the shipping!

The past few weeks have proven rather hectic for me. In the midst of moving my living quarters from the “hostile hostel” (dormitory) to the calm, quiet, and private porta-camp (trailer), I also had to prepare my course work, including end-of-term tests and assignments, for both my college class and primary school classes as I was leaving for a week to visit Eduland.

So, two weeks ago, I was moving and working like mad, and feeling very anxious.

During my move, all of my colleagues—all of the other college teachers, expressed joy at my throwing a “house warming party.” I was quite grumpy with the notion of this as a) I was moving all by myself and none of the other teachers offered to help; b) I couldn’t fathom the expense of hosting a house-warming party (or any other kind of) party, for that matter); and c) my new digs lacked a safe entrance, a flushing toilet, low water pressure, and (at the time) hot electrical wires located throughout my new digs. My new home was not quite guest-friendly. (The electrical problems—read: the threat of electrocution--have since been repaired.)

This weekend past, after returning from my week at Eduland, I spent time unpacking and moving in to my new place, since I hadn’t time before leaving. I basically carried all my belongings to the trailer and left. Another small “hitch” in my moving week was that the campus lost water—for the entire week.

So, I had a pile of dirty laundry waiting from before my departure and added to it the everything worn during my week at Eduland. In short, I needed to launder every thing I owned this weekend.

As the water pressure remains low (and I don’t expect it to be repaired), I washed every thing I owned this weekend in a trickle of cold water. (Nope, no hot water either.)

(I can’t, can’t, can’t complain about my new living conditions--although this note may seem entirely that—because many of my fellow PC volunteers are living as I did originally: hauling water from a community tap, using an outhouse, still awaiting furniture, etc. Believe me, I’m still living in “Posh Corps” standards! )

One thing that has changed for me since moving from the hostel (dormitory) is that I can now line-dry my clothes. YUMMY! I can line-dry my clothes in the sun! I love drying my clothes in the sun. So I was happy, happy, happy doing my laundry this weekend.

I was also “home” long enough to open the windows and air out my new home—this was very badly needed.

So, I spent my weekend washing, boiling, filtering, unpacking, moving furniture, etc., all to make my new home “mine.”

Even living with the water only as a trickle, even living needing to heat my water for a bath, even living needing to dash to a student toilet to go “number two,” my life here in rural South Africa is INFINITELY better than living in the hostel. 100% better, 100% better, 100% better!!

My psyche drank in the peace, quiet, and solitude that my new home provides and I finally feel as though I’ve found a sanctuary to repair my spirits on a daily basis. I love, love, love my new home!

Also this weekend I spent time practicing my “share American culture” talents. When approached by a woman I hadn’t seen in more than a week, as reply to her greeting statement (to me) of: GIVE ME A COLD DRINK, I replied, in my cheeriest self, “Hi there! I haven’t seen you in a week! How are you? Yes, I too would enjoy a cold drink. I wonder where we could get one?”

And lastly, I was enlightened as to the “why” of the urgency of the need of my hosting a house-warming party. In the culture of the people I live with, it is very important for me to host a party in honor of my move: I’m to slaughter a sheep and feed my neighbors to appease my ancestors.

For some reason, I can’t imagine my passed friends and family—especially the grandparents--finding pleasure at my slaughtering a sheep! But, whaddo I know?



PS.  Did I mention that I LOVE MY NEW HOME??!!


  1. I thought maybe a shee was the spider....what about the spider? It is so good to hear that you are happier and that you have some quiet. It has been very hard to imagine you surrounded by all of that noise and aggression. I hope this is a sign of good things to come. Love you and miss you.

  2. I feel more and more like myself with each passing day... The difference in my stress level (now versus then) is remarkable. I don't know how I managed as long as I did... I was living in (psychologically) unbearable conditions...

    I feel really, really, tired though... Am probably feeling worn out from "hanging in there" for so long...

    Blogged about the spider, finally! Just for you! Hope it doesn't creep you out too badly!