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 well...in 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.