Saturday, February 19, 2011

Louisville RPCVs Lettie and Sally visit

Lettie and I in front of my "guest room."

Lettie and Sally with the college kids

Lettie with my primary school children
 Wow! What fun! My friends Lettie and Sally came to visit me this week and I had an exceptionally good time! It was fun to have friends from Louisville visit and as a bonus, friends from Louisville who happen to be Returned Peace Corps Volunteers! (RPCVs are volunteers who have previously served and have since returned to their lives in the States.) Lettie served Senegal from 2000-2003 and returns to Senegal each year. Sally served Ecuador, South America in the mid-70s.

I met these wonderful women about a year before I came to Africa. My recruiter for Peace Corps had told me that Louisville had a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer group in Louisville and I began attending their monthly dinners to meet former volunteers and hear all the Peace Corps stories. I learned very quickly that it’s great fun to be around former volunteers, as Peace Corps Volunteers share a special bond formed by our unique experiences.

And Sally happens to teach at Jefferson Community and Technical College—so we share employers as well!

Lettie and Sally are here only for a few weeks, so they could only stay a few days. However, I don’t think our visit could have been any more exciting:

• Lettie and Sally rode a bonafide Northwest Province taxi from Vryburg to my site. One asked, “Should we wait for another one?” as we spied a particularly dilapidated vehicle; I replied, “This is as good as it gets.” W were all crammed into the very back seat for our 50K ride to my site in true South African style!

• I had not before accommodated a whopping two guests at a time, but we managed beautifully and were a bit creative with sheets and towels and bed linens. Although I was worried that I had fed my guests too many eggs: fried eggs, boiled eggs, and French toast, they were very gracious and tried a lentil/rice dish and my chakalaka! I was sure to feed them fresh vegetables and fruit, and we delighted in a very ripe mango. Scrumptious!

• We visited my primary school and it was great fun to watch the kids swarm Lettie and Sally like a little hive of bees—and I remembered how it felt to be surrounded by so many school children at one time when I first arrived. There really isn’t anything quite like it! The children sang for us and the educators were very pleased to be meeting my guests from the USA.

For more pictures of our primary school visit, see my public Facebook page (click on the link). You need not be a FB member to see the photos:

• The next day we visited my college. Sally was especially excited about my college, because she works for a technical school in the States. She has a great idea about both schools collaborating and was excited to find her very own counterpart in Mr. S to help facilitate a cross-cultural exchange between the South African college kids and the USA college kids. (I will, of course, help until I leave South Africa.)

• For more pictures of our college visit, see my public Facebook page (click on the link). You need not be a FB member to see the photos:

• Just to add a bit of dazzle to our visit, we had rioting in a nearby town. The residents were protesting for better water services, the police came and fired rubber bullets into the crowd, and two little girls fled the scene to be later found drowned in a nearby dam (dam is the SA word for pond or lake). The drowning of the girls made the crowd even more upset, of course, and the police ended up arresting 42 citizens. We were fine, and the conflict has since resolved, but it was interesting to be hosting guests all the while receiving text messages from my PC security advisor giving me updates on the volatile situation.

• We were able to walk about the village one afternoon on a sizzling hot day. We encountered a family keeping a young Chacma baboon as a pet, a village cemetery, and a wonderful “pink apartment complex” where the landlord grows pomegranates, grapes, limes, lemons, and figs.

It was a lovely, lovely visit and my only regret is they couldn’t stay longer. Lettie and Sally were off to KwaZulu Natal to visit another Peace Corps Volunteer—another PCV from KY!  We had a blast!


During our village walk-about we spot a donkey cart

Sally with a Gogo and baby

The sun was sweltering this day.
Karen, Lettie, Sally, Ounaai, and the threatening African sky

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