During my shadowing week in Gaberone we got to do some house sitting for someone at the US embassy. They had a pool and it was awesome. I will let the pictures do the talking but while swimming I got to see monkeys wrestling. My friend Dana from Oakland made us some “Mexiacan Lasagna” and I got to have cheese for the first time in months. I got to the movies “teeth” and “The room” back to back. Best week ever.
Lekgowa means white person. I hear it ten times a day. Well it actually means “vomit from the sea” but that is another blog post entirely. So this week I get to go to the capital city and shadow another volunteer. I was waiting for my bus at 6am when the first neighbors came by to say hello. He said “oh it’s the LeKgowa who visted the witches and lived!” WHAT? I talked to him and he said I was very lucky to be alive. Then another visitor talked to me and said “don’t you know they steal babies?” My rasta neighbor said that they drink blood. I told them that I only saw them drink Chibuku (traditional beer). In that morning alone I had six separate people talk to me about surviving the witches. Each conversation I tried to dispel any rumors about the Zulu group and told them how nice they were and what a great meal they had served us.
Weeks later: Peace Corps staff, after a meeting with the host parents, had to mention in front of everyone to not go see the witches after dark. I never got the chance to hang out with them again but sometimes at 2am and after I would hear their whistles and drums and want to sneak out of the house to watch them dance.
I called my friend to have her join me and once again we were waved in to sit next to the chief. Now it was the guys turn (well a 20something and a kid that was probably 12). They beat the ground and kicked up the red earth. Then instead of spitting on the crowd they cried and pleaded for mercy. The kid was pretty cute- he would get tuckered out pretty quick and just cry for a while. After only 20 minutes or so the man ran out of the tent and no crowd member was brave enough to try and drag him back in.
Just as we were about to leave the host of the gathering asked us to stay for dinner. She explained that we had seen the graduation ceremony for a group of Zulu witch doctors. The witches washed our hands and served us a huge plate of goat meat and samp. It was one of the best meals I have had in Botswana.
As we were leaving my friend had a funny grin on her face and she said “check it out”. She pulled out a goat tooth that apparently was mixed in with her goat meat. Now the only question is should be make a bitchin goat tooth necklace or earring to commemorate one of the coolest things we have ever seen?
Okay so for weeks I have heard whistles and drums going all night long. When I asked Mma Kay-bah-dee-rey what the sound was she said “They are not Christians.” That is all I could get out of her about it. So when one afternoon I heard the drums, I had to just see what it was all about. So I walked down the street and there was a huge green tent and most of the neighborhood trying to peek in from the neighbor’s yard. I was waved in from the tent and shown a seat amongst the drumming section. Okay for the 10th time in three weeks I am going to have to tell you about what I saw instead of just showing you with pictures and video. At first there were four women dancing in leather tribal outfits. There were bottlecaps tied around their legs so that every dance step sounded like a tambourine. It was like a lot of the traditional dancing I have seen here till…. One of the women started sprinting out of the tent. Then five or so audience members ran out and tackled her and dragged her back in the tent. They all tried to escape. Some would lay on the drums so they would not have to dance any more. Others would try and jump over me to slip under the tent walls. They would get traditional beer and spit all over the audience. But mainly they would dance. They Danced so hard that the red dirt would fly 30 feet. It must have been kind of like a sweat lodge experience. They danced for hours and cried and yelled… it was so sweet.
So there are going to be a couple weeks of stories missing. While I was getting ready to teach a couple of volunteers how to record and cut audio to create our new Podcast “This Botswana Life” I shut the headphone jack on my microphone on my laptop screen and it busted the screen. So for two weeks I was pretty bummed that I would have to send it to America and wait several months for it to return. BUT my brother (who owns the internet café) sent me to a place that fixed it in thirty minutes. I am back in the blogging game and I have witches, monkeys, and boybands to tell you about.
The last couple of days we have been learning about Permagardening. So our training group went to a long term care center and built them a garden.
- We marked off beds a meter wide and a half meter apart so there was room to walk between them. Ours happened to be about 10 feet long but they can be as long as you want.
- We got hoes and shovels and did a “first dig” probably 8 inches deep. We took out any roots and made sure the dirt was clean and clump free.
- Next we did a “Second dig.” We shoveled out our loose dirt a section at a time and hoed another 5-8 inches. Make sure your two digs form a squared bed and that all sides are straight down. This will help with erosion and beds will require less water.
- Next we declumped the second layer of loose dirt and mixed it with ashes and charcoal.
- Then put the original first layer of dirt back on top. This deep bed will allow for roots to grow down rather than hit the hard soil below and fight for nutrients
- Mixed compost with the top layer of dirt and mix well
- We formed a raised bed with sharp slopes for water erosion and watered the soil
- Planted seedlings about a hand with apart diagonally…. AND GARDEN DONE
- One cool trick we learnt was burying plastic water bottles (bottle cap side sticking out, with bottle cap off) in the bed with three small pinholes in the bottom part. As the plants need water it will slowly drain from the bottle. Then just refill the bottles when they are empty.
My hands are raw between that and doing my laundry by hand. But it was fun to actually do some work and hopefully the center we worked at will have some veggies for years to come.
I have been talking a lot about my family and living conditions but I guess I should mention the Peace Corps. First I will tell you a bit about our group. There are 35 of us. We have volunteers right out of college, retirees, an ex-marine, a volunteer who served in the 1960’s, Phds, a college dean, clinical psychologists, Two Kansas Jayhawks (boo!), four married couples, and most impressively an ex-fraternity house father.
Most everyone is in the trenches teaching life skills to children in schools, others work in health clinics, others work with NGOs (not-for-profits). I am one of only four District Aids Coordinators or the new title District Community Liaisons. To my best understanding I will have 10-15 cities/villages in my district and will be working directly with Botswana government in capacity building. Getting funding for projects they want to do, long-term planning, creating action plans, and in general helping Batswana (people of Botswana) do effective/sustainable HIV programs.
From 8am-5pm we study Setswana, Botswana culture, learn about health concerns (I learned getting malaria is a bad thing), learn about The Peace Corps, HIV/AIDS, and a ton about how to be safe.