Hump Day

9 Mar

So there isn’t really much to report on here at site. I am doing laundry today, so I’m pretty sweaty and gross from hauling water to my house from the store next door. I really hate doing laundry, but I’m trying to avoid being the smelly umlungu until winter comes and I stop bathing because it’s too cold. Hopefully baby wipes will suffice

Not going to lie, I’m a little homesick. Not cripplingly so, but just enough to longingly sigh in my room when I think about Taco Bell. I had a dream last night that I was eating a pasta dinner with all my family. So tonight I’m going to make baked ziti and watch 30 Rock to make it feel a little more like America. I also recently dreamed that I had a ponytail, but there’s not a lot I can do about that right now.

My projects are coming along well. Both my ideas for the secondary school got approved, so it’s just a matter of organizing the career fair, and waiting for a ride to town to get paint for the world map. The primary school’s little field trip to the training center went well with only a few incidents, and the learners really seemed to like learning to weave and make mats. I’m hoping that we can repeat it with another grade.

Long Tom Marathon coming up in a few weeks! If you haven’t seen my spiel on Facebook, here it goes:

Peace Corps volunteers here in South Africa have a long history of participating in the Long Tom Marathon. We use this opportunity to raise money for an organization called KLM. They give out scholarships to kids in rural communities to get better educations and tutoring on the side. It’s a great cause, and I only need about $20 USD until I reach my goal! Please, go to the site and give what you can. Don’t forget to add my name on the form. And thanks to everyone who has already donated!


Hope everything is good stateside!


Brief Updates…

22 Feb

Alright, so it’s been fantastic weather here on the border. It kind of feels like South Florida before Thanksgiving: Still a little humid and definitely sunny, but the air is really cool and crisp, and the sky is always a really lovely blue during the day. I expect turkey, green bean casserole and the special onion potatoes my mom makes any day. This afternoon it took a turn for the stormy, something that hasn’t happened in a couple of weeks. The wind picked up and was screaming outside right around 4:30, and I thought all those bright baby clothes my host sister hung up on the line were going to go flying into the black clouds. Weather like this is perfect for lazing about and not getting anything done, so I parked myself right in front of my laptop to write this and watch a few shows.

The rain only lasted a couple episodes of Mad Men, but even now I hear it creeping back on the tin roof. To give you a better picture, I’m in my pajamas, boiling water to avoid runny tummy, listening to some music from the Ring Cycle, though it’s all blotchy because my computer doesn’t want to cooperate, and the rain is tapping again. It’s quite the cacophony.

In other news, I recently spent a ridiculous amount of money on something non-vacation related. R221 for facial lotion with SPF 30 and sunscreen that’s worth a damn. That’s the most I’ve spent on any one purchase. Now, it’s only about $34 USD, but when you only make $300 USD a month, it’s a considerable investment. But I’m happy to spend it to avoid peeling now and shriveling up later.


To wrap things up, I leave you with this little anecdote:

On Friday, all the primary schools in the area competed in a track and field competition in Mayflower. My school brought 75 learners (which is ridiculous) from grades 4-7. I was trying to keep them together in the morning because one of the schools sitting near us had like the same uniform. So I reached back, deep into my high school marching band nerd days and taught them this cheer:


Q: “Hey, Ka-Duma (name of my school), how do you feel?”

A: “We feel great, oh we feel so great. Uh. Uh. Uh uh uh”


Which was cute until they realized that they could ask it back to me. So the next day when I went to the India shop, I was ambushed by about five kids clapping and yelling:


Q: “Hey, Fikile, how you feel?”


And of course, I was obliged to answer. In front of all the drunks from the home brew garage next door. They got a kick out of it. I hope a pattern does not emerge, or I will have to go back to gruff Fikile.

Getting Things Going

9 Feb

So I have been back at site after holiday break for over a month, and I am getting a few projects off the ground that I am pretty excited about. Aside from my constant pestering of the provincial sports department and other athletics agencies for equipment donation, I am looking for computers for my primary school. There is no way I am going to get those before the first quarter is done, but I am trying none the less. Here are some other things going on:

– Organizing a career day for my secondary school, so that the learners have an idea of what they want to do with their lives and what classes they need to take
– World Map Project at my secondary school. Basically, we paint a map on the wall (hopefully of the library). I am trying to partner with the geography teacher, so that his learners can help label the countries once it is all finished
– Organizing a mini-field trip to a training center in the village for my primary school. Gogos (grandmas) there make mats and other handicrafts, so the learners will watch and try to make their own. The gogos are pretty excited about it, so it’s really cute.

Of course now that I have put this out there, all of my projects will fall apart. But I’m really excited about it, and I thought you guys would like to have a better idea of exactly what the hell I’m doing over here. Hope all is well,


A Very SA Thanksgiving

27 Nov

You will all be happy to know that Thanksgiving does not cease to exist south of the Equator. Some fellow volunteers, a few nationals and I got together and had a delicious Thanksgiving meal in Fernie, hosted by the wonderful Sharon. There was turkey (made in an oven reminiscent of an easy bake), mashed potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, brussel sprouts and all kinds of wonderful for dessert.

Alan made the brussel sprouts, and proved what people in the south have known for a while: Anything cooked with bacon is automatically delicious. Jesse and Meg “made” a dutch apple pie and some cadbury chocolate. It oddly reminded me of a Checkers apple tart…

I brought cornbread muffins and cookies. The cornbread muffins were aight, but the cookies were a crowd pleaser, so that made me really happy.

After the dinner we tossed the ol’ pigskin around with some neighborhood kids. It was pretty hilarious, as they had no idea what was going on despite some quick directions. After the Americans stopped playing and the kids were left with the ball, they just started a game of netball, which was fun anyways.

It was really nice to see everyone, and even nicer to have such a huge meal. It was a great improvement on last Friday’s offal lunch at my primary school. The principal cooked up some cow innards for lunch, and being of an adventurous stomach I tried it. The lung and stomach was OK, but intestines is a little much.

Continuing with American tradition, I have continued to eat terribly in the days following Thanksgiving. I just got the package my mom sent me (thanks again!) and proceeded to eat an inappropriate amount of oreos for dinner, with immediate regret for dessert. Now I’m thumbing through the magazines and books she sent, and looking forward to watching the DVDs my stepdad sent as well.

All in all, good stuff. IST is coming up in the beginning of December, and I hope to update before that with an idea of my schedule for next year. Stay well!

About KwaNdebele

12 Nov

So as you might have noticed, there are huge gaps in my blog. I attribute this to a couple of things:

1. A lack of electricity and other minor annoyances that are now being sorted out at site.

2. A lack of Internet during the majority of training.

See? Totally not my fault, or due to my incredible lack of personal responsibility. As I have time now, I thought I would write a few words about the two months I spent on the other side of Mpumalanga province, in KwaNdebele.

For the majority of my stay, I lived with a very generous and very understanding host family around Siyabuswa. They were very patient with me, and some days I find myself missing them. I lived with a host mother (who was really a grandmother/gogo) and a little brother in grade 5. My host mom is a really lovely woman, who humored me when I tried to feed her banana bread and peanut butter and banana sandwiches. My last day she dressed up in traditional Ndebele bead work and took photos with me (which I hope to post sometime soon).

And then there are my fellow volunteers, who suffered in silence (and not so much silence) with me, and who I came to find are all great people. It’s bittersweet sometimes at site because I don’t get to see them as often as I used to, and am instead stuck with two losers near me. But I know everyone is keeping well at site, and that I will see them in Decemeber.


Rainy Day

9 Nov

So we just had some pretty torrential rain here phezulu. It was crazy loud on the tin roof of my little outside room, and I had to resort to holding my cellphone to my ear like a late 80’s boombox to hear my podcasts. Now the concrete floor is soaked, and I have discovered a few new gaps in the tin.

But I am actually pretty zen about the whole thing. I had resigned myself to a leaky, noisy roof even before the storm had started. So take that South African weather.

Example of my site’s weather: As mentioned on my august Facebook page, the wind this weekend blew the roof off the pit latrine at home. I won’t call it a toilet, as a friend pointed out that it’s more of a tin box with a little wooden box inside. But my host brother has cobbled it back together again (negative: the door still doesn’t close and there is roofing leftover; positive: now we have a skylight!). It’s a little creepier than it used to be, as now when I go at night I feel like I’m re-creating that scene from Jurassic Park where Newman dies. Well, at least I can go at my own house.

Today was actually pretty mild at my school. The learners are writing exams, so right now I am helping my buddy the secretary to put together the tests, and hunt down missing exam originals. We learned how to top feed the copier and make multiple copies, and my unjamming skills acquired at the Alligator were put to good use.

Good stuff coming up for the holidays, and thanks to everyone who has been sending mail and whatnot. The podcasts, gossip and candy are amazing; and your letters make my day.

At Site

7 Nov

Having a lazy Sunday here at site, so I thought should post real quick and let everyone know that I’m alive.
Things are going well here at site so far. for those of you who don’t know, I am right on the border with Swaziland. So the ladscape at my site is really hilly and green, and actually disgustingly beautiful. Both of my schools have been very welcoming, and the primary school kids are quite cute whe they are not being too noisy.
My room is a little spartan right now, but the province just delivered our beds so I have hopes that more will come soon.
Thanks to eveyone who has sent mail. I have been thinkimg about everyone back home and I hope all is well. Hope to update later