It's noon time in the Kalahari Winter and I'm watching a manic ant panic around in circles on my front porch. It reminds me of a donkey that got shot in the ass and is running around in circles unsure of where the shot came from and why his ass hurts. I'm afraid it's D-Day for this ant, I wonder if ants can go insane.
It's too hot to sit outside anymore, but it's way too cold to sit inside. So I mosey inbetween the two. I sit outside with my book until I'm so hot I sweat and break out in rashes, then I sit inside and wrap myself up in a scarf, hat, and gloves until I think my neighbors must think I'm crazy for sitting inside. Usually it's 2 minutes in and 2 minutes out. I'm not getting much done.
Well, I just got back from our MST, or "Mid-service training" with the peace corps in gaborone. Afterthat, I helped a friend to start off a map project in a Baobab school in Gabs, and then after that, I went to a Meet n Greet with Michelle Obama, and then collected 12 boxes of books for my village. Then, it was back on the bus and off to New Xade. It was an exhausting week, but a productive one.
Unfortunately, no one in my village will ever really know what I've been doing. All the comments I ever get are, "Where have you been?" "How was the U.K.?" and "I thought you transferred." I dont know where they get these ideas. I haven't been on vacation for months. sigh. One lady even went so far as to deny me a ride home yesterday, saying the ambulance was full. What a degrading feeling. Sometimes I don't know why I'm here or why I even try to work so hard. That's the biggest problem with being from the states, we try so hard to be efficient and effective, but in this particular post, there are so few resources and projects to work with, it's hard to be efficient and effective. A lot of the work we do as Peace Corps volunteers is behind the scenes, maybe even not "work" but just getting to know people at our own houses. Just because people don't seem me throwing big events and at the front of a large crowd doesnt mean that I haven't given up a lot to be here. What they really want here, I guess, is for me to sit outside and shoot the shit with the locals.
In other news, I have internet access now, after months of running around, gathering bank statements, residence permits, photocopies of passports, making phone calls, visiting the Botswana Telecommunications Center, and calling the lady at the Be-mobile store in the mall (who knows me by name and account number now-- she has photographic memory). I was so happy the day I submitted my contract, then months later, I received my mobile modem, today 4 days later, the modem actually works. Now, for the small price of P290 a month, I can connect with friends and family across the world, submit reports as timely as possible, and look up grant and project opportunities from the ease and comfort of my own (cold) couch. My friend fears I will become addicted soon-- I think she's right. I already feel my mind running 5x faster than normal, running through the possibilities, making lists of people to email, sites to visit, and things to research. Of course it isn't nearly all work, a lot of fun and games too. Let's just say facebook and gmail haven't seen this much activity on my account in one year.
I don't regret not having internet for the past year. In a way, I almost regret getting internet now. My respect goes out to those who still don't have internet or cell phone service and chooose to live that way. I'm not going to sound needlessly down on myself, I have to admit that honestly, my site is one of the more challenging ones, but I have friends here who still don't have electricity or running water. WIth this one development, such a weight has been lifted and I realize just how posh my life is, aside from the terrible transportation situation and the misconceptions (or cynisicm) of my community, I'm pretty well off.
I've picked up a project that I think is much more worth my time now. The New Xade Craft Shop. The Shop is called "Khimahe," in seganacui it means, "To stand on one's own." This enterprise if the baby of a group of people in New Xade how form the board for this organization. The shop buys up products such as eggshells from an ostrich farm nearby and hires local craftmakers to turn the products into jewelry, hunting sets, costumes, or skins such as these:
A peace corps volunteer in Maun has set up an online craft shop with the help of a company in the states. If we can get our quality of goods up, we'll post some things on there soon.
As usual, thanks for all the encouraging letters, comments, emails, and postcards. It's really great to hear from you all and I miss you a lot. Thanks for keeping up with my blog! Given that I'm just over the 1 year mark, I expect I should be writing something a little more introspective and dramatic soon, once I've had some time to digest what's happened to me. For now, i'll just leave you with this haiku:
5 months, no cell phone
12 months, without internet
See you in one year!