Friday, July 23, 2010

7/14: I tried to will the Internet to work for the better part of four hours at the library today, to no avail. But all was right again in the world when I stumbled into one of the home based carers with her two month old baby. I proceeded to invite myself into her home and pretended not to notice her scrambling to straighten it up as I lunged for the newborn. Eventually she began to hint at the need for her confiscated baby to eat, I ignored her. I grudgingly gave her up only when Fikile started to look alarmed and not a moment before. I then walked to my org to the daily cheers and fist pumps from a myriad of children, the novelty of which has yet to wear off. There I created yet another cultural snafu when I heard one of the few men employed at Zamimpilo yelling from our one office. Busi and I both went in to find him sprawled in one of the chairs, seemingly flaunting his protruding belly, with his arm outstretched with an empty plate demanding a refill. This scene is one that occurs almost daily but for whatever reason in choosing my battles, today I chose to fight. So when he said (all of which is translated), "Get me more food, oh and I want some tea too," I said, "Get up, why are you so lazy, you are closer to the tea and food than I am." While he looks at me with disdain, Busi scurries over to fill his demands. I tell her, "Busi, stop. Don't help him. He can do it himself." He then calls Sonto. I'm now creating a scene that all members of my org are watching with baited breath. I say, "Sonto, no, no, just stop. He can do it, really." You could here a pin drop, nobody's moving. Busi starts to grab the plate from me and knowing that I've more than made my cultural point, I went ahead and did what he asked. Only because I didn't want anyone else to feel as demeaned by someone barking orders through a door while propping his legs up to watch a poorly dubbed kung fu movie then I felt in that moment. I then sat down to eat after all of the men had finished and just got my first spoonful of pap near my mouth when another man, who just walked in, asked for some tea. I ignored him and he so generously reassured me that he could wait until I finished. I truly forgot when Busi came into the kitchen to ask why I didn't give him his tea, saying "Did you forget?! I'll hit you." I know she really wouldn't hit me but I realized then how hard I rocked the boat. None of the men talked to me for the rest of the day in some sort of silent protest to mark their scorn for my outspokenness. Point taken.

7/15: So I've been doing all Internet research for my org and Peace Corps business after work hours. Even though (and perhaps because) I don't do anything productive at work I still come home exhausted. This could be attributed to a myriad of things including but not limited to: my constant balancing act between respecting cultural habits and wanting to get something/anything done, the mental drain of being surrounded by a language I barely know and the absurd amount of MSG I'm forced to ingest daily. Regardless, it's dawned on me just today to work at home when I have PC reports or research for funding sources etc. so my time at home after work hours can be spent doing something other than working. Yes, that was truly a light bulb moment for me today.

7/16: I had a revelation a few weeks back that I can only control myself. It's fruitless to get frustrated by other people's definition of work especially when that time could be far better spent doing something productive myself. So today I took that to heart and cranked out all sorts of monitoring and evaluation forms for my organization and I even had tons of time left over for the afternoon round of gossip.

7/17: So today what should have been a four hour taxi ride to Pietermaritzburg turned into a better than fiction eleven hour epic journey. Waiting almost five hours for a taxi to fill up could legitimately cause someone to do unspeakable things. While in other circumstances a straight jacket would have been rightly called for, today I was so entertained by the enigma I sat next to I almost forgot that after this eleven hour jaunt I would have to turn back early the next morning to do it all over again. This fascinating man of only 21 spoke perfect English and knew more about American pop culture than any American I know. This was evidenced by questions like, "Do you know Rhianna? What about Chris Brown? Beyonce? Lady GaGa? Naz? Is he dead, I think he's dead. Do you know Madonna?" I swear this poor guy breathed four times in eleven hours, it was mind-boggling. Lucky for me, he would rattle off so many questions but never give me time to respond, which was fine with me because even though he was a fascinating specimen to watch I didn't necessarily want to play 20 questions all day. What was also clearly evident was the fact that he became proficient in English by watching television. Examples include, "I would never want to go to America." Now this I didn't believe. "Why not," I ask. "Okay I really really really want to go there but I wouldn't if I was an enemy of the State." "Why not?" "Because then I would have to fight the FBI and CIA by running through the streets with guns and doing covert ops." "Yes, it's best to avoid things like that." Another example: he asked me, "What do you think of the war in Iraq and Afganistan?" In typical Zangu fashion he answers his own question, "I think it was a matter of national security." "What?" "You know, it's like the Russian spies. Obama had to kick'em out, it was a matter of national security." So in the end we take an unprecedented lunch break during the taxi extravaganza, which was fine with me because I ate breakfast at 5:00 and it was 3:00. By the time I got there it was almost dark and I missed my Zulu teacher's family's tombstone unveiling ceremony (the reason why I came). I was, however, treated to a wonderful meal and good company. Amongst half a dozen hanging cow carcasses, I sat in a hut lined with men drinking a thick grey liquid out of white buckets which apparently is what 'Zulu beer' is. I then ate for the third time in three hours though this last one topped the rest as I went to an amazing- for-American-standards Italian restaurant with three other Americans. So fun.

7/18: I had a lovely, relaxing brunch on the porch of two former PCVs. Everyone was having such a good time that my insistence to get an early start after my marathon journey the day before went unanswered. I finally resorted to as close to begging as you can get with people you barely know. Eventually we get to the taxi rank but I knew, even in the best case scenario, how unlikely it was that I was making it to Nondweni tonight. So I got to Dundee when it was pitch black, which almost always signifies the end of the work day for taxi drivers, and still had two taxis to go to get back home. I opened the taxi when it was still moving to try to catch the last taxi to Nqutu. I soon realized this dramatic stunt, much to the cheers of my fellow passengers, was completely unnecessary when I found the taxi empty. I could have any seat in the house. I called my go go to tell her I was on my way home but I was going to come home after dark (after her bed time). I could tell when she picked up the phone that she'd been crying. I asked her what was wrong and she was so worried about me. When I called her back when I got to Nqutu to say that everything's fine but I'm going to stay with my American friend tonight because there aren't any taxis, she was hysterical. I tried my best to say that I will see her tomorrow morning, I promise, and she doesn't need to worry. 'I'm staying with another American and she's very good and nice.' She eventually calmed down but it just broke my heart that I caused her so much anxiety. Unfortunately, I wasn't so lucky in Nqutu. When I got to the taxi rank it was completely deserted. So I called the PCV who stays in Nqutu begging to stay at her place. She, of course, complies but explained that I needed to take a taxi to get there. I was under the impression that she lived in town so I started to panic. Okay, I'd been panicking about this exact scenario all day but now it was really happening. She actually just lived five minutes out of town so I swallowed all semblance of pride I had left after I offered the taxi driver a substantial sum to drive me to Nondweni which he proceeded to scoff at, to drive me just a ways down the street. Please. Please. Plllleeeeaaaasssseee. I think he just got fed up with me making a fool out of myself so he eventually agreed though just for suspense we sat in the taxi for literally ten minutes while he thought about it. Anyway, it worked out and even though it was quite traumatic it was nice to see a PCV I hadn't seen in a while.

7/19: I had quite the prodigal son homecoming today with people coming out of the wood work, running down the path to greet me. There were hugs all around from every lovely lady at my org. Our weekly meeting in the closet (office) was so full of women today that I literally couldn't fit another chair in so I happily sat on another grown woman's lap. It's so good to be home.

7/20: Today my supervisor seemed very excited about starting several projects, unfortunately the timing was horrible because I'll be in Pretoria for two weeks for training but i was excited that she was excited.

7/21: Several of the neighborhood children followed me home today so we all got out every People magazine I've hoarded since stepping on African soil six months ago. This meant a handful of five year olds and one older sister of about ten reading Hollywood trash in a foreign language for hours on end. But all hell broke loose when the older girl, Zanele, saw a picture of Justin Bieber. There was so much screaming in my tiny hut I was counting limbs. Never in a million years did I think anyone in my village would be aware of the tween pop tart. Ever so ironically, I searched under my bed and brushed the dust and bugs off of the Justin Bieber poster given to me by fourth graders at the American elementary school I'm corresponding with. She just about died. Lots more screaming. Now, of course, her younger sister and her are blowing kisses to the heart throb. I'm dumbfounded. Seriously speechless. When they turn to leave she regretfully hands me back the poster. I thought she was going to faint when I said she could keep it. Who would have thought?

7/22: So I was booty shakin' to 'put your a** into it' when a woman from my org stopped by. Luckily I saw her through the window before she saw me flailing my arms with my ipod blasting. She's taking an adult education class to study for the metric exam to pass 12th grade. It wasn't easy to explain 2nd grade level math problems to someone in a second language but I think we made it work. So two men with mental health issues tried to visit me at work today. This was very exciting to everyone but me. Apparently, if you have a 'crazy' man in love with you it's good luck and I have two that are ready to marry me! Everyone was congratulating me. Here's a little fun fact for you, so I spent the better part of this afternoon taking out my supervisor's weave, which by the way is not for the faint of heart. Because of the sheer expense of such a luxury, women here leave their weaves in until the edge starts halfway down their scalp. Another unfortunate casuality of the weave expense is the absurd amount of build up and stench associated with not washing your hair for months on end. All ten of my fingernails were filled with gunk about thirty seconds in. Also of note today was how I was washing my dishes in the bucket system I now have down pat with Zindle tied to my back jamming to a local radio station. I then stepped back and wondered how I will ever fit back into American society.

7/23: So one of the women I work with, Sindi, asked me to bring shampoo and a towel to work today, she was going to make me pretty. This prospect was very exciting. When the time was right she put about two inches of boiling water into a bucket and said she was ready. I tried to pantomine that the length and thickness of my hair is really not very condusive to such a small amount of water. She begged to differ. She then started to put shampoo on my dry hair which I tried, in vain, to tell her is skipping a step. Again, she politely disagreed. After she poured a good quarter of the bottle on my head she realized, a bit too late, that there wasn't, in fact, enough water. She then tried to just comb out the soap, which was only partly effective. At this point, several other ladies got involved toward their mutual goal of the perfect coif. They then used the pee bucket to pour gallons more almost boiling water on my head. This was a little overboard but got the job done. She surprised me with a blow dryer and started to dry one patch of my scalp until I thought all the hair was singed off. (I checked and all my hair is accounted for). She then gets out the baby oil. At this point, I've definitely learned my lesson in trying to voice my opinion about our beauty parlor play-date, so I just let this one go. She was shocked that the baby oil just did not seem to be working. I told her that no matter how much oil you put on my hair, it will never feel like yours. This again, was met with objections. Half the bottle was gone and my hair was wet with oil, dripping in fact. Everyone saw this as a really good sign. She then slicked it back into such a tight ponytail it almost hurt. I step out of the office to cheers from everybody. One of the men is breathless. Sindi then says, "I'm so tired from trying to make you pretty." Everybody was so relieved that I was going to look nice for my Peace Corps training in three days. I might even get a boyfriend, they said, if I was really really lucky. After that ordeal, which lasted the better part of the afternoon, I tutored the woman I helped yesterday with her homework. She seemed excited to learn and we stayed hours after everyone else left to finish. She was just starting to get it at the end, which was pretty awesome too.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

7/2: So after several weeks of English Club behind me, I've finally decided to embrace African Time and arrive a bit late. To my dismay, the librarian calls me wondering where I am and I have kids literally lining all four walls of the room as I walk in...and I was only 20 minutes late which is borderline early here. Well with the initial trauma of my tardiness aside I decided to completely forego my lesson plan. The kids were entirely too young, aged 4-8, and I knew they just wanted to play. So play we did. The outdoor games were received with varying levels of success depending on how complex the Zulu needed to be in the explanation. For example, in explaining melting butter, where when you get tagged you 'melt' down for ten seconds but someone on your team can tag you before you reach the ground to save you or you're out, the tagged kids squatted like they were on the pit toilet then after some indiscriminate amount of time stood up again and kept playing. Red Rover was enjoyed by all though duck duck goose got the most cheers. Even though no English was learned, I considered it a huge success and an absolute blast.

7/3: Apparently Zindle's fifth birthday was two weeks ago but seeing as though I was not informed and she didn't have a party I designated today as the day we would celebrate. So I felt like I needed to do the significance of her passing year justice especially since she has been my shadow for quite some time now. (I literally step on her feet regularly she's always that close to me). So I baked a cake and brainstormed for quite some time on potential gifts. Seeing as though there is very little in the realm of industry here my options were quite limited. Think Halls cough drops advertised as candy. But luckily I made it to the post office the other day to find quite a stack of mail waiting for me. I was able to use the 'happy birthday' banner my mom sent for my birthday for Zindle and a coloring book, crayons and tons of stickers as gifts which were given to me by a friend for the kids in the village. My go go got out the special glasses and the nice (white) sugar for tea as they rolled the chocolate cake in balls with their hands. Of course this is how they eat everything so I don't know why this surprised me. Zindle was elated at her new toys. A few weeks ago I gave her a sheet of paper and a pen to occupy her during an especially riveting episode of the BBC World Service and she covered every millimeter of both sides of that paper, not knowing that I had a whole spiral full of paper just like that. We had a day long dance party, thankfully pre-cake. Unfortunately, my go go came running out saying, "Stop, stop running, you'll make her hungry." Anyway, I'm marking down Zindle's 5th birthday in the history books as a great way to celebrate turning 'one whole hand.'

7/4: So I was a little worker bee today, I washed every article of clothing I brought to this country...and my body...and my hair...and my dishes and floor. Needless to say I went a little crazy with the scrub brush today. And I found a top 40 radio station so I was able to shake my groove thang while doing it. I have to give credit to Zindle who was a great helper bee.

7/5: I cannot in good conscience say that I did anything productive today. I knew my plan to cure AIDS would be tabled for another day when 1. I realized how cold it was outside (no one could be expected to work with a chill) 2. my supervisor had a bit of a headache... or a stomachache...or some sort of phatom pain somewhere. So I grabbed my tea like a good Zulu and got to gabbing. Here's a sample of a few of my conversations: Tshengie: "You look pretty today, why?" Me: "Don't I look pretty every day haha?" Tshengie: "No." Me: "Oh." A completely unrelated conversation: Me: "So do you think anything has changed between (blacks) and Afrikaaners since 1994 (when the first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, was installed)?" Siyabonga (age: 24): "They broke our fathers spirits; they broke their hearts and for that I hate them. I. hate. them." And yet another: Sindi: "Why are you smiling today?" Me: "I don't know, I'm just happy." Sindi: "Ohhhhh ok you finally got a boyfriend, good." Me: "Oh, no, I didn't." Sindi: "Yes you did." Me: "Did I?" Sindi: "YES and I'm SO happy for you!"

7/6: So I noticed today that both pairs of my leggings, which I wear everyday in the Arctic Circle, have multiple holes at the seams. Also of note, the lovely ladies at my org today were discussing the brevity of my rear, with four sets of hands copping a feel in a debate like that akin to the analysis of an ancient aritifact. I feel like it is no longer possible for me to remain in denial about what effects daily carb loading can have on a body. Please do not let this message deter you from sending me peanut m&ms.

7/7: So as I was crammed in a closet sized office with ten morbidly obese women for yet another marathon meeting, two of which were sleeping, another two having separate conversations on their respective cell phones, I stand up, three hours into the meeting, flailing my arms with the agenda I so efficiently prepared in my hands, begging for some focus. I got laughter and head shakes. Crazy American.

7/8: I trekked through prairie grass and rolling hills to go on home visits all day today. My day started when the Home Based Carer I was working with made me tea and breakfast. I already ate breakfast but I think hell would freeze over if I would refuse food in this country (hence seams being popped right and left). My two breakfasts did not sit well as we went to a record breaking number of home visits to talk to people who have no source of income in a village with a 90% unemployment rate with no hope of industry. This coupled with a diagnosis of either TB or HIV has many of them choosing to default on their medication knowing full well that they can't survive without it. The extent of their suffering is no less than that of my own home stay family or neighbors but when it's seen with fresh eyes there becomes a renewed sense of urgency. The deplorable poverty surrounding me has become like wallpaper. Something that you know is there but you never really see. And it has to be this way. It's some sort of survival mechanism my mind has concocted to not be in constant pain. But invariably the curtain has to be lifted and what is seen is a cycle so impossible to escape that it renders the most optimistic hopeless. But lucky for them they have someone that is the most idealistic of optimists. This character trait of mine can also be described as delusional or crazy. Regardless of the adjective, I now believe more than ever, that income generating projects need to be my focus here. So stay tuned for what that will look like.

7/9: Today was the last day of my English Club as the kids go back to school on Monday. Even though my attempt at teaching them red light, green light was a total bust we had a ton of fun playing this game they made up called cats and dogs. Basically, you meow or bark as you try to catch the opposite animal. This game should definitely be brought state side. After that, I tried to help a young girl apply to university, with only minimal success. We resorted to printing out paper applications and hoping for the best. I have my fingers crossed.

7/10: So I'm somewhat concerned that two waterbottles in a row had a few unwelcome bugs in them. This is disconcerting because of the Peace Corps issued water filter that the water (and bugs) went through to get to my water bottle. Now if a water filter can't filter out something as large as a well is it really doing its job? Sigh. Well, I got a call this morning from my co worker saying they were playing with some orphans and vulnerable children in a clearing and having a brie (barbecue) to celebrate the end of the World Cup and that I needed to come, yep needed. This all sounded wonderful but I was still in my pajamas (and planning on staying that way all day) just baked some fresh bread and had a pot of hot tea waiting for me and amazingly the BBC World Service was crystal clear over my short wave radio, which was basically how I planned my whole Saturday on going in a nutshell. But I went and of course it was a lot of fun. I even attempted net ball which is yet another thing that everyone on the planet seems to know about except Americans. Well, for all you Americans out there it's a lot like basketball.

7/11: So I moved my day of relaxation to today, no harm done, and I can never get over how decadent it feels to do absolutely nothing. Though my go go tried to drop zindle off for another all day stint and bolt I tracked her down and pushed my guilt aside when I explained my need for some personal time. She then pretended she didn't understand me and plopped Zindle down. I repeated myself, "Ngicela ukuphumula oyedwa namhlanje, go go." She didn't talk to me the rest of the day. Other than the iron curtain, it was an absolutely wonderful day of nothingness.

7/12: I spent all day doing my quarterly report for Peace Corps, they don't call the American government the biggest bureaucracy in the world for nothing.

7/13: Today I visited a Dutch youth group who's building a church down the path from my organization. It's interesting because they're cycling groups in to build it but Nondweni has a 90% unemployment rate and a huge pool of competent unemployed construction workers. I, of course, have taken jobs out of an un/underemployed workforce to do the very same thing several times over so I am in no place to judge. I guess it just looks different when you're (almost) on the other side. After three days of my go go giving me the cold shoulder I asked her what was wrong. She was pretty short with me so when she went to my organization for the weekly go go summit I asked my supervisor to talk to her. I thought for sure I was doing something that was offending her and with a culture that couldn't get more indirect, she would never tell me. Well I found out that she was upset that she didn't have the money to perform a ceremony for her son that passed away, which is done a year after the death. This involves several sacrifices to the ancestors, lots of food and relatives and a sangoma (witch doctor). She was heart sick for her dead son and was reminded of her loss on the one year anniversary of his death. So she doesn't hate me, she just misses her babies (another one of her sons passed away a few years ago).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

6/25: So I just found out that the reason why my English classes every Friday have had pretty low attendance is because the person who was suppose to hand out the flyers to all the schools forgot sticky tack to hang them so he just didn't hand any out... I made sure that if he was ever in that situation again he could a: request a small amount from the school secretary who would likely oblige a small ration or b: I would abandon my post as AIDS curer to come to the sticky tack rescue. Luckily, the message got out regardless and I had a packed class who didn't learn any English but did have fun playing duck duck goose and hangman.

6/26: So today I woke up on the right side of the bed and saw silver linings everywhere I went. I even checked my mail to find not one but two packages; one of which being individual letters from the fourth grade class I'm corresponding with at Ogden Ave. Questions included, "My name's Meg, is there anyone named Meg in your village?" and "why do they have little math and science in schools? Don't they have knowledgable teachers? Or were the teachers living in this poor schooling process during their childhood?" And statements like, "I think I'm the luckiest" and "I wish the kids could have a better life and have as much as we do but they would not want to leave their home town." After informing them of the lack of math education in schools here one student sent a whole page of math facts to give them. Another gift was a Justin Bieber poster which the girls at Ogden thought the girls in the village would appreciate, I mean he's sooooooooo hot! Ha! It was fascinating to hear the questions they came up with. Then, I was off to Johannesburg for a World Cup game. It took eleven hours to get there on public transport but I was absolutely giddy the entire time and was quite literally dancing in my seat to Britney for the last four. I was met by a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer and a wonderful English South African family who took both me and my Peace Corps friend, Wendy, to dinner at a real restaurant in a real mall. If that wasn't great enough we watched the US vs. Ghana game on the big screen over dessert!! I also managed to humiliate my new, adopted family by being a completely obnoxious US supporter in a restaurant packed with Africa fans. Even the loss by my beloved country wasn't enough to dampen my spirits. I was then able to catch up with my friend who I haven't seen since we went to site three months before.

6/27: Today brought more fun and excitement with game day. Before the game even began, I ate another wonderfully balanced meal that did not consist of rice or boiled chicken and was taken by another English South African to watch the England vs. Germany match at a bar before our game started. This was made even more enjoyable as Wendy and I were quickly joined by a posse of American men. I couldn't even believe our luck. Lucky for them I did a full body scrub down for fear the jumbo tron would have a gut feeling about a really dirty American needing a good public scare to get her hygiene back in check. I even got a few emails of guys feigning interest in some soccer donations that I'm going to guilt them into following through on. Perfect. Next up, game time. So Wendy and I got to the game early due to our VIP parking and we started to pace outside the stadium waiting for our bookie (another Peace Corps Volunteer). The pacing was initially due to the sheer cold factor but quickly grew more about impatience than blood circulation. We had a list of things we wanted to accomplish before the opening whistle: bathroom, food, people watch and souvenir purchases. Apparently they don't sell programs. What?! How am I suppose to know the players names and a litle background about the teams? What about the poor kid who never gave up? Or the coach who after 12923874 years on the job still hasn't won a World Cup...and this is his last year? I realize some strange people have things like ESPN for such motivational stories but some of us who live in huts would like this stuff on paper. I just might copy and paste this little commentary to FIFA. Yep. Consider it done. Another fascinating little fun fact about my World Cup experience is the food offered, most of which was sold out before the game started: muffins, sandwiches and tea were all unavailable. Food you could purchase included: chips, beef jerky, a chocolate bar, Coke and Budweiser. So my dinner included a family sized bag of chips, Coke and half a chocolate bar which I totaled at about 3000 calories...and I was still hungry. Nothing like 3000 calories worth of pure sugar and salt to make you wish you could have rice and boiled chicken. But I didn't know anything about the food selection or the shocking lack of souvenirs because Wendy and I were still stuck outside the stadium. Two hours later we were still outside looking in. The game had not yet started but the likelihood of us doing anything on our list before kickoff was looking very unlikely. After going a little crazy out of hunger, exhaustion and hypothermia we started to discuss what we planned on doing to our bookie Peace Corps Volunteer once he mosied on over. Most of it involved punching his face and pouring our dirty bucket bath water on him in his sleep...along with our pee bucket. Basically any bucket we used for any liquid was going on his body as soon as we saw him and were reunited with our buckets. He ended up coming fifteen minutes before the game started and even though I had some questions about a few of the calls made during the game I refused to ask him because I was giving him the cold shoulder. We had amazing seats three rows back; I felt like I could reach out and touch the players. Soccer City seats almost 100,000 and I think 99,000 of them were occupied by Argentinians. I felt I should be loyal to our neighbors to the south and fortunately I was able to celebrate with the five other Mexican fans when they scored one. Clearly our bookie was not very experienced because as we discreetly handed him our payment for the tickets he proceeded to flash around his new wad of cash counting it and re-counting it. People were staring. I started to scurry away so that when, not if, he got mugged I wouldn't be caught in the cross hairs. Obviously it was only a matter of time before a police officer came over to ask him what the heck he was doing. I don't know what he told him because I was pretending I didn't know him (as I did throughout the match as punishment for his tardiness) but I guess it worked out. It was clear that it looked like we were gambling on the game. So whatever he said, hopefully the truth, must have been pretty convincing. But I was floating on a three day long cloud so it didn't faze me.

6/28: Today I made the eleven hour return trip and I was pretty exhausted though still in good spirits. My bus was late and I had to travel at night which is a big Peace Corps no no. Just as I started to panic a fellow Zamimpilo worker walked up into the taxi I was in. I almost started crying I was so relieved. I made it safe and sound and went straight to bed.

6/29: Tomorrow I need to turn in my community needs assessment which, you guessed it, is a report I'm suppose to write for Peace Corps assessing the needs of my community. I did all the work a long time ago but I need to put it all together. It was the perfect combination of being able to recover after the long trip while being productive as well. I also got a whole stack of mail today, all of which I read five times each. It was so wonderful and a great pick me up.

6/30: Just turned in my 16 page community needs assessment and I'm feeling pretty darn good about it.

7/1: So my bugs have stopped their kamakaze act and for a few days now have been alive and my bed, on my milk crate book shelf, my water filter...everywhere. I used my old stand-by band-aid Doom fogger. This will keep them at bay for a week until I find an AutoZone. An AutoZone, really? Will that be near the goat carcass or the prairie grass brooms? Peace Corps, where exactly do you expect me to find that large American car part retailer 'an hour away from the middle of nowhere?' Regardless I had the Peace Corps Medical Officer translate 'used motor oil' into Zulu which is what the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) turned Admin Assistant suggested I use which apparently worked in whatever country he served in ten years ago. I'll keep you posted. My positive moment would be the utter horror expressed by all members of my org and my go go at the sheer thought of me having a 'muhlwa' invasion. They were mortified. My go go says she hasn't slept since I told her my bugs were back...four days ago. 'I love yous' are tossed around to the point where those three words lack any meaning at all in this culture anymore but I threw a few dozen ngimuthandas out there to add to the stack except these were filled to the brim with authenticity.