Monday, May 9, 2011

Truck Breaks Down!


Home alone again for what feels like the first time in months. I’m falling into my old routine again, office, school, learning center, walking around, coming home, eating, eating, cleaning, swatting away little children. After an unwelcome visit by 10 children or so, who, for this first time since I’ve been here I actually see as children and not mysterious little creatures from the bush (which is actually not a good thing since now I’m not hesitant to just kick them out when I want), I’m sitting at home trying to decide what to write about for my first blog entry on I’m finding it difficult to figure out. Especially since another child just came over… He literally stood in my door talking and talking and talking while I physically took him by the shoulder and guided him out, then ignored him, then told him straight up to go on home (all of course with a lovely smile). But he didn’t leave. He kept popping his head in and out in and out, talking to me, begging me for things, asking me for things, not leaving, what is this, what is that, what is this called, who gave you that? Can I have a pen (I gave him one last week which he didn’t return) Can I have a book? Can I can I can I... GOOD GOD CHILD, LEAVE.

Thoughts like this one is why I’m finding it difficult to write a public blog… people would think I’m a child-hater.

AUGH. Good energy gone. The time for inspired writing is gone. Now I’m just sleepy and annoyed. Good mood bad. Poop.


What an exciting past few days. I went to Ghanzi yesterday to retrieve some packages. (Thanks so much Dan and Jeannie for the care packages!! I was in material heaven last night sitting a sea of ramen noodles, graham crackers, candy, and other goodies!) I only got like 6 hours of sleep the night before, so I decided to make this trip as simple as possible. Get in, get the packages, get out.

I arrived at the clinic around 7:30am to wait for a ride. I sat there watching cars go by until 9:30. We left some time later and arrived in Ghanzi around 10:30; except we arrived at the hospital which is at least 2k from town. So I and the policewoman had to find a lift into town. I finally got to the post office at 11:30 only to meet a huuugee line. Though the strike is technically over, the employees didn’t get what they wanted so they are continuing the strike, some, like our teachers, are still striking, others have returned to work but are doing a “slow down” that is, they’re sitting there but they’re not working. (I’m told that nationally, 4 people have already died in this country due to the strike. Not sure if that’s true). The post office must’ve been in slow down mode—or I hope so, but I’m not sure cause the post office is usually hella slow anyway. In any case, I waited at the clinic for 2 hours. I didn’t get out till 1:30PM. I’ve learned early on not to count the number of people waiting in line in front of you when you’re in Botswana. The Batswana have a habit of saving their spots, leaving the line, and returning once their spot is closer to the front, so for us that means that as soon as we get in front of the line, people start to appear out of the woodwork, cutting you, the people in front of you, and the people in front of them. It’s miserable if you’ve been waiting on your feet in a crowded, unventilated post office for over 2 hours.

I finally got my package and thought, well it took me 4 hours to get here, 2 hours to get my package, maybe I’ll only have to wait 1 hour for a lift, and then the drive will only take half an hour! Wishful thinking, but it’s nice to wish sometimes. Surprisingly, I really didn’t mind the wait except that my legs were hurting from standing and sitting in an uncomfortable position either on the floor or in a truck all day. I went to the hiking stop and sat down with my book and waited for the ambulance to come. The ambulance came and left and then came back again at 4PM. We departed Ghanzi, made a few obligatory stops at the gas station for paraffin and the grocery store for food, and then we were on our way. I fell asleep cause I was so exhausted and only woke up when the truck shook violently a few times, banging my head on a grab bar on the side of the truck and leaving a couple nasty bruises. About 1.5 hours into the ride the truck shoot again violently then rumbled to a stop on the side of the road. Soon the driver came and let us out of the truck. We stretched and some of us started walking in one direction, I didn’t know what was going on till I saw the truck. The wheel had spun clean off and the truck was at a crazy angle on the dirt road, the exposed gears dug into the sand. Shit, I thought. One of the men with me, who had sat in the front of the truck, said he had prayed to Jesus that we’d be ok in the accident. He told me this with a smile. Then he said, I am Jesus! I am Jesus! I think I knew what he meant but I couldn’t help but be a bit turned off by the way he was proclaiming himself.

The sun was setting a bright crimson red, a sphere of blinding light that I just couldn’t help but stare at as it disappeared beyond the dusty horizon. It was eerily quiet. No sound of animals or birds or insects, just quiet, until a lonely cricket began to chirp. Shortly before the sun completely disappeared, I began walking in the direction of Xade, leaving everyone else behind. I was looking at the wild melons growing on the side of the road and wondering if they were ripe to pick. I wasn’t thirsty though. After I was far enough away, I took a smoke, ate some cookies I had on me, and looked at my phone… 2 bars. I didn’t know who to call or how to ask for help, or even if anyone had called for help already. I glanced back at my company, some sitting and eating, tending their kids, and others wandering around with their phones stretched out like they were looking for water with a stick. I texted another Peace Corps volunteer, the last person I spoke to… “Ride broke down. I’m stuck on the road to Xade.” Useless. I didn’t know who else to call. A teacher? My counterpart? Peace Corps? Finally, I waved over a young girl. “Network!” I said. She replied with a shrug. “Network,” I said again, “e teng” (It is here). She shrugged again and gave me the Botswana sign for “there is nothing.” I insisted again. She responded. “No network.” Finally I waved at my phone, Tla Kwano, come here, Bona, see, Go na network, there is network. She came over, then waved at another girl who also came over. “Call someone” she said. “Who? I don’t know anyone” Call Ofense. She said. I don’t know Ofense’s number. She rattled off the numbers, I pushed them into my phone and then handed it to her, “You talk to him…” A brief conversation, and the girl hung up. He is calling someone to come for us. BX is coming, she said.

Moments later a car passed by headed toward Ghanzi. It stopped to talk to our driver and then kept going. Then another car passed, another, and then another—all in the wrong direction. Some stopped, others kept going. It was getting dark, I was cold, but the stars were out and I wasn’t anxious. Finally, an open pick up truck arrived and stopped. The back was empty. People started talking, The girl pointed at me. I grinned not knowing what to say and pointed to my phone. Was this Ofense? Or had someone called someone else? Did I cause trouble? We climbed in, I lugged my bag full of care packages and goodies with me, suddenly feeling very foolish when there was barely space enough for all of us to fit inside. An old man next to me with his knees up to his chin began coughing and spitting out foamy white sputum. He smoked. I was sure he had TB. His cane poked into my foot as we settled in, and then we started moving. Slowly at first, the wind was cold but the sky was gorgeous. Then a large flatbed rattled in. Pax. Someone had called Pax. The clinic driver jumped out and said he would go with him. Someone else wanted to go to, but one of the young men laughed, you want to sit in Pax’s truck? (I figured he was saying) You’ll freeze by yourself! There was a mumble of assent and we were on our way again. The wind whipping in my hair, the dust getting into my eyes. As we drove, Pax’s tall headlamps followed us all the way to Xade, illuminating the dust that the truck kicked up. Aside from an occasional rumble when the trucks hit gravel, the road was silent. For such a large vehicle, the quiet was odd to me. It was eery. At once the truck’s lights looked like a ghost following us, and an angel. I couldn’t decide which it was, then I decided it was best not to think of these things as I have lately been terrified of the dark.

We arrived in Xade around 7:30, everyone got out of the truck early on except me, the girl I was with, and another man. We stopped at the hostels, the girl came out and we appeared to be waiting for her. Should I get out here? I asked. No the man said. Then we waited some more. Someone came by and shone a flashlight into the truck. Who is there? He asked. The man answered “Roy Sesana, Sefofane, and lekhoa.” Lekhoa, that’s me. I double took—Roy Sesana? The Roy Sesana? Roy Sesana is a famous founding member of the First Peoples of The Kalagadi, the political group that first fought for the San’s rights against relocation. I was sitting in the truck this whole time with Roy Sesana? And Sefofane! A once incredibly active community leader for OVC activities! I was sitting in the truck with my personal heroes, my New Xade legends this whole time! For the rest of the ride, I barely uttered a peep, but when I got out of the truck, I bowed a lot and said a lot of gracious thank yous. They thought nothing of me, helped me out of the car, and were on their way. When I got home, I couldn’t help but shake my head and wonder what opportunities I missed—but then again, I realized that this is me. And I can’t help but be who I am in a place like this. The only things I have here is myself and I’ve to be true to that. I’m a shy, introverted, private person who does not do well with intimidating public figures. I did my best, I didn’t screw up. At least I wasn’t complaining.


We have a new teacher at the primary school. Her name is Mabubi (ma-boo-bee). I can not make this shit up.

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