I’m up by 6 a.m. every morning. I eat breakfast (corn flakes), wash my face, brush my teeth, get dressed, make my lunch (peanut butter sandwich and apple), drink a cup of tea and I’m out the door. Weekdays are filled with training, walking, talking, speaking, meeting, greeting, eating and, if I’m lucky, reading. I’m even in school on Saturday but only until noon or one – sometimes on Saturday afternoon, we sneak off to the lodge for some well-deserved free time. Sunday is my free day and that is usually spent cleaning and hand washing my clothes. For those that know me well, you know that this is quite a different schedule than I was accustomed to in the states. For those that don’t know me that well, I had developed something of an unconventional schedule, which I guess is one of the perks of being your own boss and living at home. But I wasn’t a very good boss. And I was an even worse employee. Let’s just say there wasn’t a whole lot of productivity outside of reading, writing and painting. But anyway…
I’m also supervised practically every hour of the day. I’m required to be in the house before dark. Winter is slowly rolling in and it gets dark at 6:30 p.m. It’s quite a curfew. Freedom and personal time are in short supply. Patience too. From the time I get up to the time I finally lie down to sleep (usually 8:30 or 9:00 p.m.), I have to be “on”. I promise you: it’s exhausting. I can’t do it justice with my writing. But I am enjoying it all nonetheless. I guess maybe I’m a masochist at heart. I haven’t figured all that out just yet.
Typically, when I return home from training around 6:30 p.m., Phando has a meal prepared for me – a heavy starch (rice or maize meal), a small meat portion (beef or chicken) and a very small vegetable portion (cooked cabbage or spinach). The components of the meal rarely change. In fact, they don’t ever change. I don’t know how much more maize meal I can consume. And I don’t know how much longer I can smile while doing it. But I’m so hungry by the time I arrive home, I eat whatever is on my dish and I do so eagerly. My family is under the assumption that I love the food, which is fine with me. Fortunately, a group of us trainees did manage to get together and make homemade pizzas one night. My nephew, Rokomoso, ate a piece and cringed – it was “too oniony” for him. I guess we just have different tastes. It’s wonderful, really. Perhaps I’ll grow to love maize meal and maybe Rokomoso will come around on the pizza. Who knows?
During dinner, we usually watch the television, which has five channels featuring various South African soap operas, WWF wrestling and a few really bad American sitcoms like Mad About You and My Name is Earl. Oh, and Oprah! They love the television, though. And they love it at a remarkably loud volume. Its funny most of the time, but on the days when I’m not feeling it, the television drives me crazy. After dinner we just sit around and talk and joke and laugh. We take turns doing dishes and cleaning the kitchen. After a few hours, I usually retire to my room to bathe and then to study Botswana, read or just get some sleep. That is my routine and that will remain my routine until June 7th.
This week, though, I get a break: I get to shadow a volunteer up in Francistown (the second largest city in Botswana). I’ll be there for four days. I’m excited to see a volunteer actually doing what it is that they do on a day-to-day basis. I’m also excited to get some relaxation time, eat some good food and, hopefully, enjoy a few beverages. We’ll see how it goes! Regardless, it will be a nice break from our routine. I sense that everyone in our group is tired and a little bit frustrated. But I think most of us expected that to be the case. The bright side of it all is that we are becoming quite close and I am making some really wonderful friends.
On another, more somber note, one of my fellow trainees – and a really good friend – had to return home to America to assist a member of his immediate family who has developed a very serious illness. It was a very emotional day when he left; in a very short period of time, we’ve all become very close and it’s hard to see anyone leave. Especially such a remarkable guy that brought a ton of positive energy to everyone around him. Here, positive energy is an enormous commodity. He’ll be greatly missed. And I know that he and his family will be in all of our thoughts and prayers.
I hope everyone enjoyed his or her Easter!! I spent Easter morning at the clinic in Gabarone getting an infected bug bite cleaned out and a swollen gland tended to. In the afternoon, I videotaped my buddy Clayton catching and killing his family’s Easter chicken as well as the messy aftermath. Supposedly, there will be a YouTube clip soon so I’ll be sure and get it on here as soon as I can. Yes, I have officially settled into my life-as-it-is-now in Botswana. Everything is changing; every day is an adventure; and every night I try to thank the powers that be for brining me to such a unique place in my life.
Love you all. Miss you all. And until next time, sala sentle!!