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.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Part Two- new pants and back to reality

View from our room
our own beach!!! just watch out for cow pies!
After a week of being a mountain person and enjoying the company of Charlie, Kelley, and Cathy it was time for me to join up with another group for my second vacation. I joined with another group of PCVs and we spent some time jumping around from backpackers and places seeing the most spectacular views and enjoying each other’s company. Two of the backapckers we stayed were rather remote, one of which we had to be picked up from a worker in a hefty bakkie- and was one of the bumpiest rides I have ever had the pleasure to be on. This BPs was probably my favourite; the staff and other guests were all great and had a very chill and friendly attitude. The best part was the view, making the rough ride worth it. We were on top of a hill looking over a beach, and since I know my words could never do it justice hopefully the pictures will give a glimpse of the awesome-ness! 

Anything But Clothes party!
We had several relaxing days a couple of random nights. One backpackers threw an ABC party, meaning Anything But Clothes. Given the crowd that was at the BP we were not worried too much about looking ridiculous or not wearing enough. Most of us decided to use trash bags and duct tape, sounded simple and that it would properly cover the essentials, however, with the high temps and humidity it proved to be a bit…sticky!  

oh yea, I also got awesome pants. 

the owner...
looking a bit...trashy

bunny chow, and my new hat!
the gang!
Durban was a great time, consistent hot showers and a bed and going out in the city with friends makes me feel almost like I am a normal person. Wearing clothes similar to what I would wear in the states, and being able to walk in the city at night- speak English quickly and drink beer from a bottle and not skirt around cultural issues- very refreshing! We also ate aweome Bunny Chow (Indian food, bread and curry stuff- 1/4 loaf for 8rand!) oh and i bought the best hat EVER at the indian market! 

It was wonderful being around so many PCVs and seeing so much of this beautiful country. I was sad to leave Durban knowing that many of the friends I was leaving I would not see again until April, but ready to get back to site. I didn’t necessarily miss my org or the village but feeling a bit guilty being away for so long, running low on Rand, a bit sick of packing and unpacking and lugging Diego around- and my towel was really dirty…
view on the way home...
Getting back to Sandsloot was not nearly a as dreadful as I imagined in my head. Because I high tailed out of the village after a couple of bad weeks I was afraid that feeling would come back as soon as I stepped off the taxi. I entered the rank with my huge bag, sweating and wearing my awesome new hat and pants, passed through the first gauntlet ignoring the propositions and obnoxious comments and smiled when I saw the friendly Gogo who never lets me pass without a smile and a greeting. I walked to my section of the rank which is much more enjoyable than the first because all of the drivers know me and make sure to put me on the correct taxi. I greeted Man (yes a man, but that is his name, Man) who was happy to see me because according to him, “aaaaaaaaaaaah it has been tooooooo long” and was pleased when everyone escorted me to an almost full taxi (meaning not a long waiting time until departure) and I got a decent seat for all of my stuff (meaning not the back row). On the way back to the Mapela area, I hoped we would turn into Sandsloot- but apparently my taxi karma is running low and we zoomed passed the Sandsloot dirt road and headed to a village across the tar road. Damn. I was going to have to walk. I reached my house an hour later and was quick to throw my bag off. I saw my host sister Matletlula- only living at this new house two weeks before leaving she is still apprehensive with me, but I managed to keep a conversation going with her for a record 4 minutes. After searching Diego for my keys which is now dirty and smelly I entered my room and took a deep breath.

It was a very hot day and I just wanted to sit in my bucket bath drinking water until bed time. I went in the main house in hopes to put a water bottle in their freezer and after the customary “gogo” (kind of like saying ‘knock knock’) I entered and looked around, then, I scared a Gogo (yes-same word but means grandmother). After 20 minutes talking to her I learn she is Linky’s (the woman I live with) mother, and she is super cute. 

After some time trying to lower my body temp by squatting in my bucket bath I decided it would be a good idea to face the sun again and go get some cold drink. Still being loyal to the tuck shop where I used to live I reached the river separating Sandsloot (new home) and Danisane (old home) and realized it is, in fact, rainy season and the river is significantly higher than when I left, meaning my normal rocks I jump on were covered. Well, after my hike I consider myself a pro at crossing rivers so I went for it…and slipped. By the time I made it to the tuck shop I was pretty covered in mud and could care less when I saw a beautiful site…an ICE CREAM MACHINE! Yes, in fact this tuck shop in a village of 1300 now has a soft serve ice cream machine, R2.50 a cone. SCORE! 

I enjoyed a simple conversation with the worker Nora and was sad to find out the other worker was in the hospital after being sick and losing her unborn child. I had a couple conversations about her baby before leaving and when she said she was going to the doctor over the holidays (a day when the tuck shop was closed, because she has been working every day for months so could not go) and was hopeful when I got back that everyone would know how far along she was, and of course hoping her health was better. She was not sure how long she had been pregnant, but by the size of her stomach and when I first noticed a bump I was guessing about 5-6 months. After trying to ask questions, trying to figure out how a pregnancy that far a long could go so wrong when she has been regularly visiting the local clinic, I realized the questions were far too technical for anyone to understand what I was saying- and those questions normally are never asked. It was simple, she got sick and the baby died, it happens, it’s sad but she will be ok. And that is that. 

I still have not been able to talk to her and will not bombard into her home asking questions as that would be incredibly intrusive and very far from the cultural norm. The normal thing to do with a death is simply give money for the funeral costs, but in this case I am not sure what will happen but will certainly try and keep in the loop. 

On the way back to my house I enjoyed greeting the old man I used to live with and all of the people on the way. As I almost hopped on the first rock to cross the river I heard yelling from the centre, and saw two people waving me to come to them… it was one of the coordinators and one of the caregivers. This was my first day back and the last place I wanted to be was the centre, but, I had to go. When I got up to the centre with my fake smile and happy greetings I learned they wanted me because a report was due to the department and they couldn’t figure out how to make the house work. They also needed in another room which they could not figure out how to open, so essentially I was there to plug in a mouse and unlock a door. What can I say, Peace Corps, doing valuable work daily. 

As soon as they were set I went back to my house. Now I remembered why on my travel days I normally hibernate in my room! 

A friend welcoming me back...
Anyway, the previous couple weeks had been a world wind of all sorts of stuff. Although the first day back brought bad news and annoyance, it also brought an unexpected good feeling about my site. I actually enjoyed it. The stress and BS from the weeks before vacation had faded away and I was glad to be there. I was also excited to go to work, mostly because I was and still am anxious to see if any of the threats of people quitting be followed through and to see how everyone’s attitudes would be. I have learned a lot the past year and my romantic view and expectations about my service came crumbling down, which is a good thing. Now that I have a better idea of who I am working with and what I am up against- I am excited about 2012!! 


  1. Hello from Ghana! I am a PCV serving in Ghana. I loved reading your post! I am planning a trip to South Africa and I was wondering if I could contact you with some questions? I would be eternally grateful!

    1. Hello! I would love to give some travel tips or answer questions, you can FB me (sami irene) or e mail me at sispud@gmail.com- whatever is easiest.