This is not a paper I would turn into grad school that was proofread, spell checked, and cared about but never or barely read. This is a blog that people will actually read but not grade. I write like I think and talk, which is not organized or correct in many ways. I was diagnosed with chronic sarcasm as a child, its genetic.

The views expressed on this website are entirely my own and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thu April 14
Well hello there, playaz.
Howzit? Thats slang. Bet ya cant guess what it means.
I starting running again this week, I ran a little during training but mainly did other stuff- so this was really the first week ive been running consistently since Ragnar-Key West. Let me tell you, there is a reason the old saying is “its like riding a bike” and not “its like running 5 miles”. Whatever. I did it. Go me. Nothing will be as bad as the hell of a bridge at high noon. F’in bridge.
Today’s run had record number of 13 kids following me at one point. I have to admit it made me smile, and the fact that when a little kid running next to asked where I was going I understood her, my response was a simply “run” in Tsonga, too bad she was speaking Sepedi. Whatever. Go me.
On Tuesday I got stuck behind a herd of cows, that was shitty, literally.
I told myself a week ago I was going to write something about my life and answer some questions some ppl have asked. But then I told myself that was overrated.
But here I am, here you are. Here we go.
I am working for an organization called Bathuseng. It is a drop in center for orphans and vulnerable children (DIC OVC) and home community based care (HCBC). So pretty much mostly orphans come after school, eat at the place, play, and I think they do other life skills and homework and stuff. If not, then maybe that’s why I am there? The HCBC has around 25 or so carers (care givers) who go around to different homes in the area, mostly ppl with HIV/AIDS, TB, mental issues, had strokes, and diabetes.
Oops, gotta go, will finish later
April 15, 2011

ok. more boring talk. 
Most carers are female, and older than me. They are mostly nice. Angie is an HCBC carer who lives near me, and is 28, she is very nice and “my friend” I am trying to help her with math so she can get her diploma and she will teach me how to live (ha) and is nice to me and speaks English so I love her. Her father has always been gone, mother and sister died in the same year. She is the next oldest so she takes care of her late sisters child, her two younger sisters, younger brother, and another child her younger sister has as a young teen. She is busy.
I have ventured out to try and befriend some other carers, I am around the OVC carers more, and they rock my world. So that is nice. They are mostly all older, and they speak more English than some of the HCBC carers, so I naturally gravitate toward them.
The staff consists of two men and two women. The founder is a middle aged female woman who I love more and more every day. The financial manager is a 27 yr old male assistant pastor who is hilarious! He is very helpful to me as well as patient. My ‘supervisor’ is a 28 yr old male who is the OVC coordinator. Yea... I think this other woman is staff, but I am confused.

It's pretty much two men in the office with me, so the dynamic is very interesting and poses certain challenged for someone like myself.

So the carers are all technically volunteers, and the gov’t gives them a stipend. So initially I thought, oh so they are like employees who get paid, right? Not at all. They get paid next to nothing! The org has a PEPFAR (form the US) grant which is great, but the place is hurting bad for money!
I really enjoy the people at the org, and the kids are adorable, semi scared of me, but I’m working on that.

As for what I do. That’s a great question.
I am living in a community (yes, it is a village, no I will not constantly call it ‘my village’) that is small, around 1300 ish, in Limpopo. They speak Sepedi which is really cool since I learned XiTsonga. I can’t remember how much of this I have already written in that rambling post from PST.
I live with an old man, madala (meaning, old man) who doesn’t speak English. Its super.
There are mountains all over, so that is wonderful.
What else? Oh, I am working on a needs assessment which is really cool, sense, ya know, it just is. Too bad the portion of PST that talked about the tools for doing a good needs assessment was somehow glazed over, but don’t worry, there is info on a jump drive we got. But I am super pumped to do it, <nerd alert> but this is the real deal- no more hypothetical mumbo jumbo in class.
What else? I got three packages from my family. I cant even describe how amazing it was. Came at the perfect time.
Today my org learned just how jumpy I am. I flipped my shit because of a grasshopper. We all laughed. Then since its Friday we all ate together. I helped cook the Pap as Kole (financial manager) tried to teach me, when we were both failing a Carer, Mokgadi, saved the day.
OH. Convo of the day:
<Mokgadi touched the pan to scrape pap off the side, its its boiling pap>
Me: OH MY GOD, how can you touch that!
Makgadi: African woman don’t burn
Me: I guess im not African, that crap is hot
Mokgadi: well, at least you got an African name
I love my life.
But anyway, we had pap and pig head. NOT PORK. Pork is meat. There is actually no meat on the pig head. The brain was really squishy and small. The eye balls are also really small. Turns out my stomach reacted the same way as it did with the chicken feet- not well. So my afternoon run turned into me not going far from the latrine. I just find it funny that the girl who wouldn’t even eat bacon is now chewing on hairy pig ear. Things that make ya go, uuuggghhhh…. My dad will be so proud.
But today when I was gardening with Kole and Jonas I had a ‘holy moly, im a PCV, this is awesome”
I wish I could describe the pure insane random stuff that goes on at my org, it’s wonderful. Always laughing…well…usually. This is really edited, but over all we laugh A LOT!

It was nice to think about the 3 years pre PC and take a second to appreciate everything! Despite GI issues, confusion, and awkwardness- i love it!
<i know some ppl will enjoy this story>
OH. So long story short- the worker at the tuck shop (convenient store-ish) that is on this compound is also my brothers girlfriend and I think they pay her to clean once a week. Oh yea, and the founder of the org is the daughter in law of the old man I live with. So she tell me the other day that Johanna will clean my room, I think its weird, but she says shell just mop. So I think, super. I get up extra early this morning to start sweeping the dirt outside and make sure my room is clean enough for her to mop. We have a lot to sweep, so when Johanna got here she was so surprised I sweept a lot and thanked me. No prob, you are about to clean my room! Least I can do! So, I think she is just gonna mop, right. Yea. So I get home from work and my shit is CLEAN. She re-made my bed (I just kind of throw the blanket on, I think making beds are completely pointless and stupid) she whipped everything down, moved everything to mop really well, redit my blinds (yea I broke something somehow) BUT what all this means…she met POLLY JULIA , PIGGLES, AND ELLY JR!!!!! yup. She sure did. I had them under my blanket, but they were front and center on the bed when i got home.

So I made some no bake cookies and took them to the tuck shop, I thanked her (yea, she gets paid but I think its weird) and we laughed about Polly Julia.
For those of you who don’t know Polly Julia, Piggles, or Elly Jr. you probably never will. (Elly jr is a little version of my Elly that my mom sent me, NO I did not bring elly!!!)
Ok. This is going nowhere. I have a lot more stories. But I think I met my rambling quota for the week.
Peace out homies!!!
Much love,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Taxi

So. My taxi. Walking in the taxi rank is always an experience- its way bigger than the one for Tshamahansi <my training site> and ppl REALLY aren’t used to seeing a lagoa <white person>. After being solicited a million times for people to help me with bags and shit, and people trying to point me to the Pretoria bus <clearly that’s where they think I want to go> I finally make it to the 4 taxis for Mapela. I am not sure if there is any rhyme or reason to where the Danisani one is, but I just always ask around. If the queue marshal dude sees me he immediately takes me to the right one, (my supervisor hooked it up and talked to them) but the place was a shit show.

I finally find the right one, look on it and thought it was full. I first noticed the suitcase sitting outside of the taxi, then saw the large number of bags full of produce and Jiggys <i cant even explain rt now>. Literally there was not one place to step b/c there was so much stuff. I went to put a folding seat down, thinking that was the last spot when the Gogo’s <Gogo- granny/older woman>  informed me ‘AOWA. BACK’ I look, and although there was no way to get back there through the piles of produce I counted only three adults and one child in the back. There was no physical room for me BUT I had to do it.

<please envision me, in a long skirt that I trip over with my two HUGE bags full of lettuce milk and chocolate to last 2 weeks, it was probably funny for them to watch, or painful, not sure>

I moved some of the plastic bags under a bench, put down my really really heavy bag, climbed over everything and everyone. Turned around to where the open seat SHOULD be, but that was occupied by a Gogo butt cheek, and plopped myself down, on her.

It was actually impressive how over the first ten minutes we all gelled together and I somehow mushed between the Gogos.

I had one bag on me, but the other was too heavy for anyone to pass back and it really wouldn’t have fit on me all things considered, so it stayed in the second row under some Jiggys, hoping that no one would steal anything in it, most importantly, my chocolate.  After the last person got on the taxi the driver lifted the suitcase, shoved it somewhere, and then managed to get 4 more bags and a flippin BIKE on there. I’m pretty sure the taxi could have flipped and no one would have budged, we were packed in there like pickles.

The best part was the wedgy the Gogo smush caused, my booty was hungry, as Hill would say. Oh. The pain. As I attempted to extract the material the Gogo’s didn’t budge, I think they must have known.

I noticed the seat/bench moving, thought it was weird, but whatever. Then when we took off I notice the bench move again, and realized it was, in fact, not attached to the ground. Details I suppose.

We stop for gas, which for some reason took about fifteen minutes, then we were off the Sandloot, Maseyna, and Danisani. Luckily for me I was not the first off, so when it was my stop it was only half the shit show that getting on was.

And that, my friends, is a typical ride home from town. Magical.

Someday i might post about my work and living situation. Maybe. Until then, these stories are more fun.

Also, tonight was the first time i cooked in 10 days. I want a gold star. Oh, and today at work we had an improptu Shangan dance session- big skirts and all. ya know, the usual.