Ok maybe not super eventful, but there’s not a lot going on here in rural Africa. I had my site visit from peace corps on Tuesday and my furniture arrived at exactly the same time. So nice to see some familiar faces and also have furniture finally. The rest of the week was pretty low key. I was sick on Thursday so unfortunately I missed the farewell to the seventh graders at my school. I was really disappointed but after my third time sprinting to the pit latrine before 730 am, I decided it was best if I stayed home. My body is still adjusting to africa, to say the least.
Saturday I woke up early to do laundry. Did that, cleaned my room, did dishes, and burned my trash. Then I realized it wasn’t even noon yet. I spent my afternoon drawing. It was so nice to be able to relax and do something I enjoy. Drawing is definitely my way of destressing. Below is the picture I finished.
Saturday night I realized my cousins wedding was that day. All my homesickness hit me at once like a ton of bricks. I like it here and I’m happy, but last night there is no place I would have rather been than at Jackie and Mark’s wedding. I never in a million years would have thought I’d miss her wedding. Obviously part of being here is making sacrifices, and missing events like that are my sacrifices. Thankfully I was able to talk to my mom on the phone and I have some amazingly supportive friends who are going through the same things as me. I don’t know how I would do this without their support.
This morning I slept in, then went to town to buy food and a fan. Its been getting pretty hot lately and i was in desperate need of a fan. I realized Sunday is a great day to go shopping in my town since most of the stores are closed which means fewer people to harass me. I really only shop in the two grocery stores and those were both open. I bought my food and fan and headed home, sweaty but excited about possibly not melting in my room anymore. As I got off of the taxi and walked past my main school, I heard some people calling my African name (Refilwe) from the school. I saw two older women and a man sitting outside the computer lab. I didn’t recognize them but that doesn’t mean much, I don’t really recognize anyone. My immediate thought was that someone had broken into the computer lab and stolen the computers (not at all an uncommon occurance in schools here). My heart sank because that’s my main project in that school and I’ve been working on those computers for the past two months. Luckily that was not the case, which I found out after a lengthy and confusing conversation with the man who had run up to the gate and said he had come to collect me but I wasn’t home. I realized I had forgotten about a wedding I had been invited to when I first arrived in my village two months ago. I really didn’t want to go but finally decided it must have been important to the man who invited me if he sent his son in a car to pick me up. I called my host dad and had him talk to the man to verify if was ok to go with him. So the man, a little girl who was with him and I drove to my house where I dropped off my groceries and headed to the wedding. May I remind you I had just come from the store so I was wearing a peace corps tshirt, cotton skirt, flip flops, and had a bandana tied around my head. Also sweating buckets and hadn’t even washed my face yet that day. If I’ve learned anything here though, its to just go with it. We got to the wedding where I was promptly abandoned in a crowd of people I don’t know and awkwardly sat down and watched the ceremony. Once the bridal party started dancing in to the tent I was left trying to awkwardly make conversation with some gogos (grandmothers, really a term that applies to any woman over 35). Then a woman who appeared to be a few years older than me came up and asked me to sit with her. After talking for a while I learned that she and her husband are doctors at the hospital that’s about 2 km from my house. The same hospital that my host mom works in as a nurse. They have a newborn baby who I held for a while and burped. They are an extremely nice couple, and only a couple years older than me. The husband is working at the hospital for another year so they will be staying in the doctors quarters until this time next year. We exchanged numbers and I’m sure I will visit them soon. Its so nice to be making friends who are closer to my age in my village. I also met a woman this week who volunteers in the library of my main school who is my age.
After the wedding I finally returned home. I spoke to my host parents for a while then went to my room. My host dad came in later and started asking about my furniture. I couldn’t figure out why until he told me my host mom wanted to give me a chair. I said ok, then realized it was a sofa chair. Some serious rearranging had to happen but everything now fits. He also gave me two metal chairs since I broke the plastic one I had before by sitting in it. Not one of my more graceful moments of the week. The leg shot off and I fell flat on my back. I love my host family so much. They are the most gracious, kind, hospitable, friendly people you could ever hope to meet. They took a total stranger in to their home for two years and are keeping me even after they realized how socially awkward and dense I can be in this new culture. They’re also saints for not kicking me out even though I’ve been here two months and they still haven’t been paid by the department of education. Oh and I’m breaking their furniture.
All in all, a pretty good week. One more week of school, then visits to and from my neighboring volunteers for thanksgiving week, then thanksgiving in polokwane with volunteers from all groups, then one more week of work followed by in service training in pretoria for a week and a half, another week hanging out at site, then vacation in eastern cape and durban for Christmas and new years! I can’t wait to see my fellow volunteers and have a break from village life.
Final thought of the week, a quote from a book called “Americans do their business abroad” which is a great collection of short stories by volunteers about their experiences in their countries of service. One story says “cross cultural experience is the polite way of saying, ‘playing the fool.’” I can’t even tell you how true that is. Bless all the people here who have had to put up with the awkward nonsense I do every day.