2/5-9: A few days before Peace Corps’s 50th anniversary event at the Consul General’s house in Durban the Country Director called to ask me if I would speak at the event representing the PCVs in the health sector. So I spent the majority of the few days before the event on the deck of the hostel overlooking the Indian Ocean trying to think of something profound, noteworthy or as the hours waned on just mildly interesting to say. I started to panic when I discovered that the PCV speaking on behalf of the education volunteers was given completely different guidelines. I then spent an embarrassing amount of time in an internal debate over whose guidelines I would follow. I then expanded my debate outward and started taking a poll of my fellow PCVs. Of course being surrounded by friends I rarely see was also a distraction, as was the fact that it was Super Bowl weekend and despite having no idea who was playing beforehand, I watched the game from 1:30-5:00 Sunday night/Monday morning. Somehow I found a few spare minutes to jot some things down.
The Consul General’s house was beautiful. Not only did it have a pool and tennis court but was complete with monkeys roaming the property. And don’t get me started on the food! I forgot food could be so varied and flavorful. It was wonderful. Next time I go to an Embassy related event I’m bringing a Tupperware.
2/19-26: After a week of stress and running around in my village I was back on the road to facilitate sessions at Pre-Service Training. I realized I had truly embraced this culture when, not knowing how long my first session was suppose to be and not wearing a watch caused me to be 45 minutes late for my next session. I was confused when the trainees, who’ve been in this country a few weeks, were so flustered and irritated until I remembered I had reacted the same way only a year before. Things like finding out two of my sessions were given to other facilitators the day I was scheduled to present them didn’t even faze me despite the fact that I spent hours preparing them. The fact that it was impossible to get a hold of anyone concerning transport and other logistics now seems so ordinary it’s hardly worth mentioning.
2/27-3/5: It’s hard to not be discouraged when you walk into my org. Our funding is getting cut at the end of the month so all efforts to pretend to work or care went out the window in January. Now on a typical day you will find the two go gos who cook the daily hot meal for the kids, myself and one wild card. Sometimes it’s Mpostol who, when present physically, is usually slumped over a chair somewhere sleeping off the past night’s escapades. Sometimes it’s one of a handful of women who join the two go gos in gossiping about the eminent demise of Zamimpilo while watching soap operas on TV. But I look forward to the days when the wild card is Tshengie who gets upset when I do any aspect of a project without her. “But we’re partners Lindelwa?!”
Lately I’ve been circling the village going from school to school trying to organize Camp GLOW. It has been so draining to have kids constantly yelling ‘umalungu’ while pointing and laughing, guys who won’t leave me alone and women in taxis talking about me in front of me. I think the fact that I’m burning the candle at both ends work wise makes these issues which have been present since the beginning that much more frustrating. But honestly, I thought the novelty of my nationality and skin color would have worn off a long time ago as would the feeling of being in a zoo with all the world watching my every move.
When I noticed the deafening gospel music at my host family’s house was even getting on my nerves I knew I needed to give myself a time out. There’s only so much Daria-esque behavior one person can get away with. I was lavishing in my hermit-dom when two of my host siblings knocked on my door. I dragged myself out of my room and saw all eight members of my host family camped directly under my window. I figured they were performing a ceremony to the ancestors to rid me/my home of all the evil spirits that have been inside me as of late. Thankfully I quickly noted the stack of freshly harvested corn and realized the fire was solely for cooking purposes. So with two host siblings on my lap I helped cook corn under a blanket of stars seemingly at x100 magnification. I had tears in my eyes as I listened to Zulu music while tickling my two year old host sister thinking they’re going to have to drag me out of here next year.