Monday, January 16, 2006

September 15th 2002

Well it seems like once again another week has gone by. What makes this one different is that it seems like it is a normal week. A normal week Africa style though. I feel like I am getting settled and it is boosting comfortabillity level having a place to myself, especially in how I center myself in relation to the world. For a while in training about the two months of it I felt like I was being moved around a lot. I was, from Alanta to South Africa to Roma to stay with the nuns, to the village, to Roma again, to stay with a Peace Corps Volunteer in the field, to village, back to Roma, to my site visit, back to Roma, to a lodge for graduation. I think Bob Dylan sings about a person being a rolling stone with no direction home. Meaning a person that doesn’t really belong anywhere and has no home but just goes here and there with their meager possessions which was of course two bags and a backpack that was packed jam full. So it is an experience during the last three months seeing the third world and even living like a person lives in the third world (kind of) but I am not too upset to know there is a place that I can come to a rest at the end of the day.
Some work was accomplished by me this week. The regular thing during a week is that there is going to be interruptions. This week they included power outages and social functions. My regular work week’s set hours might not really be that much in theory and even with many distractions it does not take too much out of me and the pace is fine. Even though I am still a very busy person it seems. I at first thought that I would have a lot of time to myself and would spend it reading but it seems like that is not going to be so. I am having visitors and cultural exchanges. So many people want to talk with me and so far I have been very friendly in stopping and talking when they want me to stop and talk. So often I am just walking down the street and someone comes up to talk with me usually it seems the talks last about five minutes and include where I came from my, where I am staying, what I am doing, if I am married, who is my mother, father, brother and sisters, how long I will stay and such questions that in America a complete stranger would not just walk up to you and ask but here is protocol if you want to talk about something more serious maybe the next time they see me. But after about five minutes and the Basotho feel like they have gotten an idea of who I am then just like they stopped me then they let me go and say good bye. The level of friendliness varies dramatically from person and person and city to city. Some people just want to be left alone or might hold a grudge in general with white people but it seems like most do not and of course there are the people that on any other day would be very friendly but are just having one of those days. But maybe about half of the people I see on the street say hi to me on a good day. I still have not been able to figure out who I am supposed to greet as sometimes when I try to greet everyone most people greet back but some do not. It is just a way here I guess but is more of a rural thing where farther out a person is the more they must greet and if they do not greet someone they see then that country person will think they are mad at them at times.
I did have my first two house guests stay the night. A girl that lives in my district (there are eight of us) was planning a birthday party. So volunteers came from around the country two of which decided to stay with me. We all then met up in South Africa and spent the day having a lunch and then time at the bar. Most of the volunteers stayed in South Africa that night but I did not as until my first three months are up I am not supposed to stay away from my site unless approved by the office and school. As it was it was nice to see such a big group of volunteers. It also seemed like people got along quite a bit better than after a couple weeks of not having to share rooms and all live together.
I also got some shopping done and while I was especially pleased to find things like vegetarian hot dogs I was disappointed when it came to other things like soy milk. As it is though maybe I will be able to find it in another store. The city in South Africa while that I went to and plan on going to many more times is even smaller than Stillwater. I think though it has many things that I want. Ah, if it only had a Walmart though, oh well. :-)
I still have not been able to get my land line fixed just right but I really feel like it will be fixed by the end of the week (crossing fingers). I can though still receive calls on my land line which is quite nice.
I am not sure if I wrote about it but last week I had an assembly at the school I teach at to introduce myself to the staff. It was really neat the students but on plays and sang songs. Afterwards the teachers went to the teachers lounge and we ate food cooked by the students.
I also for the first time in three months ate meat besides fish. We went to a restaurant and this was after a long day of me bustling here and there. We went in and looked at the menu. The waiter/host/busboy/money taker/bartender came over and asked us what we wanted. Well there was only about six things on the menu so I picked the thing with fish. He said "no, we don’t have that" my buddy tried to order. They did not have that either. We asked them what they did have. One thing which was the baked chicken and rice. We ordered two and started to feel lucky that they even had something as nice as baked chicken after all it could of been fried. Of about the eating places/stores/gas stations around the town I stay in all that sell food sell fried chicken. Most also sell fried fish and french fries which they call here chips.
As it is I also have been sick this week but I planning on feeling better soon. I know though that I have spent more time spent sick from colds and bronchitis in the last couple months than I did in a couple years before. Maybe it is the stress, maybe the altitude, who knows? After this goes away I am going to be healthy enough and it is going to be warm enough for me to start exercising and running so that should make me even that much stronger.
Love ya, jeff


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