Saturday, August 30, 2008

I'm a PCV now. (Written 8/29/08)

I have 729 days of Peace Corps left. I’m not desperately counting down or anything, I just have lots of time to sit and think about things and the math is easy at this point (2 years minus 1 day). My big, exciting, much-anticipated, light-at-the-end-of-the-PST-tunnel week is over. But as long as I have bats dive-bombing my head, my life won’t be completely devoid of excitement. And I see (and hear…chirp chirp chirp) LOTS of that in my future.

We officially finished up our training on Tuesday morning after a rousing game of STI/HIV/diarrhea-related Jeopardy (I was on Team Flamingo which meant I got to wear a fantastic hat, most likely purchased by your tax dollars, throughout). After a series of awkward pictures in dumb hats (flamingos, frogs, crabs and parrots) and a decisive Team Flamingo victory (the Frogs cheated), all 35 of us loaded our masses of things into a surprisingly well-packed tour bus and trailer and headed to Mbabane (the capital city). I have to say that it’s probably the most impressive packing job I’ve ever seen…each of us has two big bathtub-sized washing basins, two smaller ones for dishes, etc., buckets for fetching water, a stove, a 9-liter gas tank (some are even bigger), huge water filter things, two suitcases, full pantries, pots and pans and assorted other things we’ve collected over the past 8 weeks. And we’ve been REALLY good at accumulating bulky items to be transported at Peace Corps’ expense rather than our own. The bus ride from Nhlangano to Mbabane takes about 2 hours, during which we watched some presumably made-for-TV movie called “Prey” about this family that gets stuck in some game park in Africa while on safari and are being hunted by lions because their broken-down jeep is painted like a zebra. Okay, not a good choice of movie for the occasion, but I suppose it’s only comparable to how they showed “Snakes on a Plane” on the flight over here. Then we got to see the first 20 minutes of “Commando” with such classic lines as “why don’t they just call him ‘Girl George’ and eliminate the confusion?” Excellent.

In Mbabane we were staying at a fabulous lodge within walking distance of the city so we were able to go out without spending too much on cab fare (you can’t walk anywhere in this country after dark…ever), and it was nice to feel normal for once. Well, as normal as it can be here in Swaziland. We went to a bar that felt very much like a bowling alley where they only had 5 songs on one CD to play the whole night, but I danced and watched a terrible South African soap called “Generations” while others humiliated themselves with their poor pool-playing skills. It was a good time, but if I never hear Avril Lavigne in Swaziland ever again I’ll be okay with that. On Wednesday we did a “walk-around” which was intended to give us an opportunity to do some speed-shopping in the big city for various housewares. I got the Group 5 stamp of approval for the efficient spending of money and managed to buy some nice linens, dishes, a Pyrex baking dish (ooh!) a water kettle and approximately 40 more pounds of stuff in one afternoon. And a hair straightener. Yeah, I’m roughing it. We also go to go to the Peace Corps office, which I will NEVER be able to find on my own, and raid the PCV library so we have something to do in the coming months. I stuffed my bag full of collections of short stories, Sudoku books, and classic novels that I have never managed to read. But now I have no alternative so hopefully I can cross them off my lifetime “to read” list.

On Thursday we had our big swear-in ceremony with the US Ambassador to Swaziland, the Inkhosikati (His Majesty’s wife), the Deputy Prime Minister and an assortment of other important folks. The Ambassador hosted it at his residence and they set up a big yellow and white-striped tent on the lawn for us. (The tent was on a hill leaning to the side and it was quite dizzying. We basically took the US Government oath in a Fun House.) There were about 100 people in attendance and fellow Group 6-ers gave speeches in both English and SiSwati. 12 of the 35 of us wore traditional garments, which essentially consists of a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist and another piece tied over one shoulder on the top. For a country that’s extremely conservative in dress (as in I’m not allowed to wear pants in my community), the traditional attire made me blush a bit. The skirt part is cut exactly 2 inches longer than it takes to overlap when standing and it’s just tied at the top so it’s basically got a big slit from about 2 inches below your waist ALL the way down. We were nearly blinded by the whiteness of all our thighs when we tried to take large steps, and it was even worse when we tried to sit. And to be culturally appropriate you’re not supposed to wear ANYTHING under it. Nothing at all. Boys too. (I cheated.) I’ll post some pictures when I get the chance to go to Manzini to use the internet and you can be the judge.

Anyway, we were sworn in and then in true Swazi style we gorged ourselves on inyama (meat) and emabiskiti (cookies) at a braai (cook-out) and then spent our evening getting to know the night-life in Malkerns. We went to a place called Malandala’s which is the restaurant of House on Fire (the only real concert hall slash club in Swaziland, I guess. Google it. It’s pretty.), which was populated mostly by middle-aged Afrikaaners (maybe white Swazis??) in matching two-tone, short-sleeved dress shirts. We still haven’t figured that one out, but we did all learn that they’re super awkward. Bars in Swaziland are odd because it’s culturally inappropriate for women to drink, especially in public, so all the bars are full of men and Peace Corps volunteers and I guess sometimes some MSF doctors. We also stopped by a reggae night at some other place in Mbabane and I woke up this morning with a dance club remix of “Red, Red Wine” stuck in my head. It was a good time.

So this morning we got up bright and early to haul everything we own and re-pack it and ourselves into a massive fleet of rented kombis (like a VW bus or matatus in Kenya) to take us out to our site. I was the second person dropped off at my permanent site, so I’ve been here since about 11am, basically doing nothing. I made a bed for myself on the cold cement floor out of my yoga mat, two blankets and my sleeping bag and took a nap for a few hours. I don’t know what to do with myself anymore since I’ve been getting 10 to 12 hours of sleep every night…last night’s 6 hours was wholly inadequate. I still don’t have a door (well, I do but it’s not attached), but I guess they’ll put it on tomorrow or something. Whatever…I have a burglar door with a massive padlock on it so it’s not like anyone can get in. Or out. Like me earlier when there were two bats repeatedly dive-bombing my head and I was trying to get out of my house and I all the screaming and swatting was impeding my ability to unlock the door. It was quite a scene. Then I just stood outside of my house for about 10 minutes trying to explain to my family what was going on in siSwati, but I don’t know the siSwati word for “bat” so basically we played charades. Maybe they guessed it, but I still don’t know the word for “bat” so I wouldn’t really know.

Tomorrow I’m heading to Nhlangano (pronounced inn-hlon-gone-oh, but that hl sound doesn’t exist in English so that’s not terribly helpful) to buy a bed, oven, table and maybe a wardrobe or chest of drawers or something. We’ll see. The furniture piece I liked most at the furniture store is apparently supposed to be for holding baby clothes, which means that the furniture salesman didn’t want to sell it to me since I don’t have a baby. I really don’t see what the difference is…he’d still make the same money off of me whether I had a kid or not. I actually drew up some plans for furniture to have it made, but since I already have to pay for bed delivery tomorrow it would be nice to just buy stuff in town so I don’t have to make two trips. And I really need something to organize all of my clothes and books and stuff into because scorpion season is rapidly approaching and I’m not allowed to have anything but furniture touching the floor, for obvious reasons. But apparently those suckers like to climb up bed legs and snuggle with you in bed…I have that to look forward to. And I need to buy a new radio because in a moment of overwhelming kindness I gave mine to my host family. My make (mother) cried she was so happy.

That’s all that’s going on in my life right now. For the next 3 months (until Thanksgiving or so) we’re not really allowed to leave our villages because we’re supposed to be “integrating.” I’m excited about the coming months, really, because I’ll finally have some idea of what the next two years will bring. I have a number of assignments, including a lengthy report on the history of the community and the current rate of HIV and other OVC- and HIV-related statistics and current activities in the area, and I have to teach a third-grade Life Skills class entirely in siSwati. That’s 45 minutes of siSwati. Hopefully I don’t need to say anything about bats in that 45 minutes. I’ll also be doing some surveys at the schools and exploring a bit more to get to know the NCPs and whether they’re ACTUALLY functioning (most just exist). And I’ll be painting my new house and hopefully cementing over the hole in the wall where the bats live. What fun.

Oh, and tonight there was a goat walking around on the tin roof of the house next to me. I still can’t figure out how in the world it got there. How high can goats jump? 12 feet?

That’s all for now. Happy Birthday (!!!!!) to my wonderful grandmother who sent me the most fantastically practical skirts (which I got yesterday). It’s hard for me to remember birthdays on time when I never know what day it is here.

Love to everyone and thanks for the packages and letters and stuff.

-Phindile (pen-DEE-lay)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Today I wrote a book.

Sanibonani Bonkhosi! So, hopefully, this (extremely long) blog entry will be more composed than the previous ones because I FINALLY got my computer fixed. That means that I don’t have the constant pressure of pay-by-the-minute internet while I’m writing this! (And more than once I’ve written a blog only to have it not post. I never thought I’d be so grateful for MS Word and a jump drive.) But still, don’t expect too much…I’m still under the pressure of a short-lived computer battery and I have Phil Collins blaring in my room. Just because I can…for about 2 hours a day (then my battery dies and I don’t have electricity). It’s a good life.

So the days have been going by SO fast! Last week I met my “counterpart” (his name is Vusi) and he took me to my permanent site, a place called Hhohho Emuva. So to clear up some confusion (Erin, you totally were dead on!) it’s a tiny village, population 6000 in the southern region of Swaziland (called Shiselweni, but maybe not spelled like that) near the town of Hluti. It’s confusing, I guess, because Hhohho is the name of the region in the north of the country, so that’s about like living in Colorado City, Texas. It’s still in Texas, but it’s called Colorado. Anyway…calling Hluti a “town” MAY be an overstatement because I visited for all of ten minutes and exhausted the town’s offerings. It consists of a hardware store which sells sugar, flour, rice, eggs, live chickens, and assorted “housewares” like mattress (not mattresses, just one), tea set and glasses (they had three of those, but one was cracked). And they had one can of paint. They weren’t sure what color it was. The grocery store offers standard fare and there’s a nice produce market there offering a wide array of tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, onions and beetroot, which is basically all the vegetables that exist in Swaziland. Creativity and tolerance for questionable culinary concoctions is something Peace Corps should stress as a requirement for applicants. And if you don’t like grilled cheese, you’d probably starve…it’s one of the few decent things you can make that requires no water.

Anyway, my permanent site host family is FANTASTIC. I have a cute little house that measures 478cm x 385cm and I have no idea what that is in inches/feet or anything, but just picture me measuring it with a yard-long measuring tape from my sewing kit. Whatever, it passes the time…and that I’ve got PLENTY of here in Swaziland. Note: if you need a few years to just contemplate life, join the Peace Corps. I think my favorite part of my house is that a goat clearly walked around in my room before the cement of the floor was dry, so I’ve got little baby goat hoof prints all over my house. My host family consists of my Babe (father) and Make (mother), who are really Mkhulu (grandfather) and Gogo (grandmother) to the children living at the homestead, but I haven’t really figured out the family structure yet so I don’t know for sure. Then I’ve got two bosisi (sisters) who are in their mid- to late-twenties and unmarried, which makes them spinsters by Swazi standards, and one bhuti (brother) who is high school-aged. And then younger than that I’ve got a collection of bobhuti (brothers) and bosisi (sisters) who don’t speak a word of English and who sometimes cry at the site of me, but they’ll get over it. There are probably 7 or 8 little kids under the age of 12, and the youngest is probably about 3. We played hide and seek, but I don’t think she understood the game because every time I found her she cried. Maybe she was just hiding and I didn’t get the game…

Oh, and at my permanent site I get the best radio station in the whole world—East Coast Radio out of Durban. If nothing else, that’s reason for other volunteers to visit me.

Vusi took me around the community for the three days I was staying there and I got to know where the sitolo (store) and market are, and he showed me how to use a hand-pump well and I pretended to be intrigued by this new skill. (Technically it was my first time, but it’s kind of self-explanatory.) His job is “kaGogo clerk” which means nothing to you, but essentially the kaGogo Centre is a place that’s been set up in each community by the government of Swaziland to coordinate HIV/AIDS mitigation efforts in the rural areas. The clerk, my counterpart, is responsible for surveying the community to determine the demographics of the area and the HIV/AIDS prevalence, organizing educational workshops on HIV/AIDS for school-aged children, and coordinating the activities of NCPs. An NCP is a neighborhood care point, which is essentially a building established by the government/UNICEF/the government of Japan to provide meals for orphans. All the food and labor is donated by local bomake (mothers), and some of the NCPs even offer classes for children who can’t afford to go to school. (School costs about E250 a term and there are three terms a year…that’s about $100 a year.) There are 9 NCPs in my village, which is a HUGE number for a community the size of mine, which directly reflects the population of orphans in my community. According to Vusi there are only two child-headed households in my community where the oldest acting parent is below the age of 10 (I say “only,” but by Swazi standards that’s good), but he still has to survey a huge portion of the community. My village is both low-, mid-, and high-veld, which means that to walk anywhere is up and down and up and down some mountains, so he hasn’t surveyed the lowest part of the lowveld community yet. And when he does, now he gets to drag me along too. But he’s been really fantastic in introducing me to the chief and the chief’s inner council (at which point I forgot every last word of siSwati I ever knew) and in warding off marriage proposals, and he speaks PERFECT English. It’s amazing. And he even threatened to beat some guy who insisted on calling me “umlungu,” which is a derogatory term for white people or foreigners.

After OJT (on the job training…that’s what that visit was) I even found my way back to my current homestay village all by myself and without incident. It’s a big step because Peace Corps likes us to learn by teeny tiny baby steps. I understand it’s for safety and all, but being able to ride on a kombi (mini-bus) by myself and being able to shop in Nhlangano (that’s the town I’m nearest) at my own pace was an exhilarating experience after 2 months of traveling in a pack. I could finally walk at Justine speed!

I’ve completely gotten used to the rhythm of my life here during pre-service training (PST). The family I’m staying with now, the Matses, are great, but it’s going to be nice to have a bit of privacy at my permanent site. It’s really awkward to have to walk through the kitchen with a bucket of dirty bath water every morning while all the kids are in there eating breakfast, and I only have another week of that before I’m truly on my own. And I definitely won’t miss the stupid geese at this homestead. I never realized before how terrible geese are, but for real they are the most obnoxious animals ever. They are constantly noisy (as in people who live several homesteads down the road complain about our geese), they’re aggressive (they hiss and flail their wings and if you let them get too close they will nibble on you with their creepy teeth-ed beaks), they smell and they poo just anywhere they want to. But mostly they’re scary, especially since it’s mating season. I guess Mr. Goose is just protecting his lady friends, but he’s a real jerk about it and my family likes to tell stories about Phindile and her fear of geese. The stories are reenacted complete with running and arm flailing, and they’re not really exaggerating. But I have stashed goose-hitting sticks a few places around the homestead so I’m never completely defenseless.

We also had our “mock LPI” (Language Proficiency Interview) the week before we left for OJT. Clearly, the Peace Corps loves acronyms. (Or I could say PC/SD…) Anyway, it’s essentially a 20-minute interview during which some guy I’d never met/heard speak siSwati before grilled me in siSwati on such questions as “what’s your name?” and “what do you like to do on the weekend?” and “what are the rules of Frisbee?” Right. Good thing I remembered how to say “run” and “throw” and “catch.” I ended up rating at intermediate low, which is as high as we have to be for our final exam and that was only a little more than half-way through our intensive language course. We had our final exam this afternoon (Thursday) and as long as I don’t do worse than my last test I get to stay, so I’m not terribly worried. I guess if we fail they send us to Mbabane, the capital city, for a week or two and make us study constantly until we pass. And if we still fail, they send us home, but I don’t think that’s ever happened in the Swaz. We’ll see.

We did have one of our trainees ET (early terminate) this past week, which was really sad for us. There’s an empty chair and an extra copy of every handout, but I know it was absolutely the right decision for her and in a lot of ways I think it’s better for both the trainee/volunteer and his/her potential community to realize that Peace Corps isn’t right this early in the game. The completion rate of Peace Corps in Swaziland is about 30% so there will be more, but for now we’re still at 35.

The past weekend was pretty exciting. One day we had two doctors from Baylor University come visit us and teach us everything there is to know about HIV/AIDS and the epidemic in Swaziland specifically. Baylor runs a few clinics (three?) in the country where they provide anti-retroviral therapy (ART or ARVs) to HIV-positive Swazis, breastfeeding education, pre- and post-natal care, and obviously HIV testing. I was surprised to learn some of the impacts of the disease on the age structure of the population and it seems that, now that rapidly-aging grandparents are caring for such a large segment of the under-15 population, that the social impact of HIV/AIDS is yet to be seen…those bogogo and bomkhulu won’t live forever. It’s sad to see, but at the same time we learned some of the amazing things that ARVs can do for people living with HIV. In Swaziland it’s free for people with a CD4 count lower than 250 to receive ART and many clinics provide HIV-positive pregnant women with the medications necessary to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the disease during labor, delivery and the first week of the child’s life. While it can’t completely eliminate the risk, it does significantly reduce it (from 50% to less than 3% or something like that). It’s amazing, really, but sad because the rate of transmission from HIV-positive mother to child is still about 14%--one of the highest in the world. The problem is that many of the medications are located only in the bigger cities so it’s financially impossible to pay for transport, or because women don’t wish to disclose their HIV status to their families for fear of being shunned (which is common) and, obviously, taking ARVs and giving ARVs to a newborn baby is a dead giveaway of HIV-positive status. But it’s not entirely hopeless…progress is happening. The first AIDS-related death in Swaziland was in the 1920s or 1930s so obviously AIDS has been here a lot longer than HIV/AIDS educators and epidemiologists…nothing is going to change overnight.

The next day we talked to three traditional healers (inyanga, plural tinyanga), all of whom were women. One of them, named Priscilla, was a doctor or nurse or something by profession and had a PhD in medical something and had previously lived in San Francisco, so she was an educated and well-traveled woman in addition to being a traditional healer. They talked about the role of traditional healers in Swazi society—there are over 20,000 in the country and more than 80% of people still visit them—and their role in mitigating the spread of HIV/AIDS. Of course we got into the specifics of “what about those healers who advertise that they can cure HIV?” which is obviously a concern of ours—it’s exactly what we’re working AGAINST. They answered for their audience and said that they don’t really believe they can “cure” it but they just want business, or they don’t really understand what “cure” means or something. Which I guess I understand. If a traditional healer who knows nothing about HIV/AIDS sees a woman with a skin rash one month and cures it with an ointment, then sees the same woman for diarrhea the next month and cures it with an herbal medicine, that healer may not assume that the two illnesses are related. But because the traditional healers have so much contact with the people it’s really crucial to educate them on what HIV looks like and to teach them that they should urge people to get tested. I guess that’s why we’re here. It’s encouraging, though, that when I was in my permanent village I saw a man that my counterpart said was an inyanga (traditional healer) dropping some of his patients off at a clinic, presumably as referrals. That’s exactly what needs to happen here!

Then of course there were a million things that the traditional healers said that I DIDN’T agree with…even the really educated woman. When we asked if they were searching for a cure for HIV/AIDS, one of the women said that she was sure that one existed but they just hadn’t found it yet. Another said there was a cure for HIV/AIDS, but that the ancestors said the “time wasn’t right” and if they let the secret out then people would lose their jobs and children would starve. WHAT? It’s some of those things that we’re here to dispel, too. The doctor lady also said that the reason that so many Africans are dying of AIDS is because ARVs were developed by Americans and so they only work for white people, which is entirely false. Yes, more Africans are dying of AIDS even on ARVs but that’s because Americans take ARVs much earlier in the illness, they have better nutrition, they aren’t continually re-infected with the virus, they aren’t exposed to opportunistic infections like malaria and TB, and they have a near-100% adherence rate to the medications so their bodies don’t develop resistance as quickly. And what about Black Americans on ARVs? (Most Swazis are absolutely flabbergasted when we tell them that there are black people in America. “What? You mean you have seen people with skin like me before?”) She also described a man who she said was a witch who, for E500 ($67), would cast a spell on someone to make them die. Um, that’s called a hitman. Or a really shady businessman—not a witch. It was frustrating, especially after the very Western, very logical, very American perspective of the Baylor doctors the previous afternoon, but it was good to see that those kinds of beliefs exist among all sectors of Swazi society. I guess that’s why we’re here…If I can convince one person to use condoms even after they’ve been “cured” by the inyanga, I will have done my job.

We also went to the Swazi Cultural Village at Mantenga this week. If you Google Swaziland, the first image that comes up is of a waterfall called Mantenga Falls…that’s where I was yesterday. It was GORGEOUS, despite the fact that I was wearing a long skirt and dress shoes…they didn’t tell us what we were doing so I hadn’t dressed for the occasion. We also got to see some traditional Swazi dances (complete with female toplessness and men wearing loin cloths made of animal skins) and if I ever get internet fast enough to post pictures I’ll show you some. (Not of the nudity, but I got a few that are internet-appropriate) We stopped over in Manzini and I bought a traditional dress for our swear-in ceremony (in 2 weeks!!!!!), a yoga mat and a jump rope. Last night I put on some “Eye of the Tiger” and jumped rope in true Rocky style in my bedroom while my family stared at me through the window. They think I’m crazy and my calves hurt like you wouldn’t believe, but it feels nice to do something other than sit in a classroom. It was pretty funny, though, to try to explain to my family what a yoga mat was for. It led to an impromptu yoga lesson in the grass outside my house. I was wearing a skirt.

Just so you know what's in my future, today I have my LPI (at 3:30 today, but I'm very very prepared). Saturday we're having a huge braai (cook-out) and I'm making potato salad to feed a million people. Sunday we have a family appreciation ceremony for our host families, then we go to Mbabane for a few days to decompress/hang out and buy some necessities like bedding and dishes. On the 28th we have our swear-in ceremony (assuming I do well enough on my LPI, which I will...) and on the 29th they drop us off at our sites. Then I may not post again until Thanksgiving because I won't be allowed to leave my site for longer than a few hours. I think I'm going to take up a hobby like knitting or something. I've already got yoga going for myself, but I guess I can't do that for 8 hours a day. I'm seriously considering buying a keyboard. I really don't know what I'm going to do with myself for 3 siSwati I guess is the correct answer...Really I'm planning on spending all of my time working on my farmer tan in my new GARDEN! I'm not really sure if I'm supposed to plant this time of year, but I'm going to because there's nowhere near my house to buy produce. And besides, gardening is good exercise (especially when you're plowing the field by hand!) and it passes the time. Oh, Africa.

Some other thoughts:
--I’m never going to remember to flush a toilet ever again in my life. And 2-ply toilet paper is going to be such a luxury when I get back to the US…it might just be the “best thing since sliced bread” which, incidentally, I now understand.
--Turns out, “when the cows come home” isn’t as abstract as I thought, either…it means “about 5:45.” Maybe it’s later in the summer, but I’m not sure yet.
--For some reason I’m absolutely incompetent at Swazi crossword puzzles. And they’re in English. There’s no excuse. But I’m getting really good at Sudoku (as if that’s an acquired skill)
--I’ve been listening to the Olympic updates days late on Swazi radio and Swazis really don’t know what the Olympics are. I DID go to a furniture store that sells TVs to watch diving the other day. If anyone wants to record the gymnastics and burn it on a DVD and send it to me, that’d be great. But I won’t get my hopes up.
--I also understand those two-part doors where the top can be open but the bottom is still shut. It’s to keep chickens out. I’ve learned that no amount of rock-throwing will teach them to stay out for more than 15 minutes. It’s a constant battle.
--Roosters don’t crow at sunrise. They crow about every 40 minutes, day and night.
--I found an ad in the newspaper from USAID. It says “Life rocks when abstaining!” That’s all. I tore it out because I thought it was funny and my family didn’t understand why it was funny.

Sengicedzile (“I’m done”…that c is a click sound)

Love to everyone and thanks to everyone who’s sent me mail/packages. I’m the envy of the training class with my Crystal Light and quality nail polish. Who knew you could barter with that stuff?

Salani Kahle (stay well),

(Oh, Phindile is pronounced like Pen-Dee-Lay. Just so you know.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Call Me Bat Girl

Sanibonani bonkhosi!

-So I just spent 4 days in Hhohho Emuva (HhohhoSouth) which is a tiny little village near the tiny little town of Hluti in the Shiselweni region of southern Swaziland. I am ridiculously excited about my future here in the Swaz...

-I'm living in my very own little cement house (it's 188"x155"...I don't know what that is in feet--I measured it with my measuring tape from my sewing kit) that my Babe (father, his name is Albert) built with his own two hands (literally) upon request of the chief of thearea who wanted to host a Peace Corps Volunteer. So it's got 3 gigantic windows and a door and three vent things that go to the outside and that's really all there is to it. Oh, and I currently have a bat for a roommate, but he's supposed to be gone by the time I move in for real, which will be on the 29th of this month. My family is fantastic, too. I've got a million bhutis and sisis and a Make and Babe and then some assorted family members that I haven't really figured out yet because they only speak this combination Zulu/SiSwati and NO English. So now I have real motivation to learn SiSwati...

-I currently don't have electricity, but my Babe Albert is going to have it put in for me over the next 2 weeks so that I can have an oven and I promised him I'd reward him for his hard work with brownies. He's not sure what brownies are, but, after all, expanding Swazis'
understanding of American culture is part of the reason why I'm here. My homestead has two or possibly 3 pigs, a dog named Boka who only has one eye, a kitten, lots of goats (including baby ones!), cows and SO many chickens I don't know what to do with them. And they sneak in my room all the time through the spaces between the bars on the doors.

-Anyway, I'm out of internet time and there's a line, but things here are going VERY well and thanks to all of you for the wonderful birthday wishes/phone calls. I'm 22 now!! And thanks to my lovely mother for posting this.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

My Permanent Site

Hey All! I only have a minute, but I'm moving to a place called Hhohho South in the southern region of Swaziland. Check it out!!!