Thursday, November 24, 2011

SA Pictures

A car-tripping, wine-tasting, chocolate-eating, hill-rolling, garden-browsing, trampoline-jumping, beach-walking, penguin petting, zebra seeing, warthog watching, french-food eating, fashion shopping, mountain climbing- great time!

Photos of vacation days in Durban, Addo, Franschoek, Stellenbosch, and Capetown, South Africa. Damn straight, you better be jealous ;)

I am traveling to a larger town to purchase some items this weekend. Normally, out of necessity, I split the trip into 2 days because of the bus schedule, but it just so happened that my first lift said he was going almost all the way to my final destination, according to his schedule, we would arrive no later than 8PM. So I decided to go with him.

We would have arrived at 8PM, except that along the way we stopped to help a truck who was stuck in the mud. My lift, a naked American Semi-truck was a powerful machine with no cargo. The truck that was a stuck was a flatbed truck with 3 trailors (not as powerful but still pretty damn big). It had tried to make a u-turn and got stuck in deep deep sand. So, my driver, me, and a fellow hitchhiker set to towing this guy (and all his cargo) out using only a neon orange nylon packing rope (no tow rope?). Naturally, 2 hours later, the rope was ripped to shreds, the victim truck moved about 3 inches, and we had attracted an impressive gathering of male egos (and their tiny little sedans) all attempting to help by shouting out advice: Attach the rope there! Why don't you try wedging rocks under that tire? No, attach the rope to the trailor? Use larger rocks! Give it more power! No rock the truck back and forth. Move forward! FORWARD! Support the horse! Anyone have a chain? Anyone have a chain, indeed. By our calculations, the tow would've taken less than 10 minutes had we had a proper chain to begin with.

As night fell and the truck and all its cargo came no closer to freedom, my driver decided to abandon this guy to the crowd of useless dogooders and get on our way. Rain clouds grew thick, the sun went down, and wild animals began to emerge from the bush to drink from the cool puddles in the pavement. I arrived at my final destination at midnight after driving countless goats and bulls off the road and stopping for a moment to admire the illuminated bulk of a large elephant (complete with curving white tusks) as it ambled its way across the highway.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A friend sent this to me, New Xade in National Geographic

Monday, November 21, 2011


I dont know why, but for some deluded reason when I'm lying in bed at night and I hear a mosquito next to my face, i think that somehow if I flail my arms around until I sweat, I stand a chance of squashing said bug. It never works.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

As i stepped out this of my house at 6AM in the refreshingly cool morning air and I saw a thin metal tipped arrow sitting in my front yard, I couldn't help but realize how exceptionally unique my peace corps site is. Yeah, things don't work as well in a settlement as they do in proper villages, we may not have tarred roads, grocery stories, reliable water, or a post office, but not many people have the opportunity to live for 2 years in an area with a unique group of people with a unique set of challenges. Yeah, these challenges are often not overcome, but sometimes, I allow myself the slightest peep of hope when I see a bright young student exhibit faithfulness in a small responsibility, or a government worker look at a person I've been working with and say, "hey, that kid. he's special. he's going to make it."

My solar panels were unceremoniously torn from my walls and roof yesterday in preparation for proper electricity. For the time being, I am living in the dark, relying on headlamps, candles, friends and neighbors and my previously -charged AA batteries (thank you dear brother for having the foresight to send me with those). Other than the extreme heat and multiple bouts of boredom, I'm getting along fairly well. I'm EXTREMELY lucky that the rain has come this weekend or I would be crying in my bathtub trying to get cool. Someone here said that God has heard my cries. I'm trying to just take it for what it's worth and not think skeptically, well if God heard this white person's cries for weather relief, what about all those other cries for things like food, water, poverty and pain relief? When things get really bad (and so far they haven't, even when I was lying in bed at 7PM last night wondering what on earth I could do without electricity), I can always sit and ponder the hope that one day soon I will have proper electricity, enough to run lights, high-velocity fans, and best of all, run a refrigerator. (Cold water, iced coffee, unspoilt milk, and the ability to preserve leftovers! HERE I COME baby!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Water To Wine

A few weeks ago, I went to Gaborone City to celebrate the Peace Corps' 50th Anniversary with a bunch of volunteers and Peace Corps friends. The celebration involved lots of inspirational videos, an open bar, and a craft shop. I brought a bunch of stuff from artisans that I'm friends with, sold a lot of it, then had a drink, and promptly felt woozy and dizzy from the heat and dehydration. I spent the activity lying in the shade of a very nice American home in Gabs.

The next day, I traveled to Kanye, a large village nearby, to hang out with the new group of peace corps trainees. I answered questions about living in the bush, being a volunteer, and other things (activities, technology, the San, food and travel options...) and then back to Gabs for a day of medical appointments (Good news, my teeth are not going to fall out but apparently I clench my teeth so hard that I popped out a filling. I have to continue wearing a mouth guard for the foreseeable future.)

Finally, finally, when all this was over, I boarded an early morning bus to Johannesburg, South Africa for a nice long vacation. From Jo'burg, my friends and I argued over taxi fare with a taxi driver who drove us to the airport where we caught a flight to Durban. At Durban, we rented a car and spent a week relaxing on the beachfront (thanks to Amanda and Todd's family for the timeshare!).

From there, we drove to the Addo Elephant sanctuary where we stayed in a converted (haunted) castle-tower B&B in an orange orchard, picked citrus, and drove through the animal reserve watching elephants spray each other with water and warthogs run. We even got to see lions...

From Addo, we drove to Franchoek, a wine making french inspired village situated in the valley of 2 gorgeous mountains. We tasted wine, ate good food, and walked around the neatly trimmed streets admiring the local crafts. It was at Franchoek that one of us noticed just how clear and gorgeous the tap water was, and we cheered over glasses of it during our fancy seafood dinner.

From Franchoek, we wine-tasted our way to Stellenbosch, another wine making community that was also home to a SA university. It had a very university campus feel. Coffee shops, art stores, gelato, clothing, fashion, bikers and runners, liquor stores, and the occasional street-man asking for change.

Then from Stellenbosch we drove to Capetown where we hiked table mountain, met the penguin colony on boulder beach, and said goodbye to civilization. A flight, bus drive, overnight, early morning taxi, and bus drive away, I arrived exhausted in Ghanzi only to be met by the harassing street kids, a man who shoved his penis in my face, and an old man who begged away half of my lunch. Back in Ghanzi.

My stomach has been completely spoiled the past 2 weeks and I couldn't bring myself to buy anything other than the basics for food which is fine cause I still dont have a fridge and it is so f*ing hot here that I don't want to eat anyway. I waited 6 hours for a hitch, crammed in the back of a truck with my souveniers of wine and olives, and arrived at home at 9PM exhausted and gross after the long truck ride (with at least 3 pairs of dirty feet shoved into my new linen shorts the whole way). Sunny can't have nice things. Sipping on tap water here, my first reaction was to wretch. It tasted like sewage. Since when did I get so picky?

Back at site today, a lot has happened while I was gone. For 1, 3 teachers have transferred out. Our boarding master is being replaced by another man and a matron, and my friend Thato received a transfer notice for Ghanzi. The electricians are also making quick work of our solar panels to make way for proper electricity. Which means that they're taking away my precious electricity and replacing it who knows when. I'm devastated. I'm planning on hiding from these guys until the very very last minute.

A rumor has reached the ears of New Xade residents. An herb trader in Maun has been turned into a snake via witchcraft. I am assured that the lady-victim has not COMPLETELY turned into a snake, rather, just her body from neck down (and phew, I was worried).