Beet Harvesting and Such

I went to the big garden with my make for the first time. A group of ladies all share the garden and work together to weed, water, and harvest it. It was beet season so I got to go along to harvest them. It had been cool all week, so naturally the day I agreed to walk somewhere far it was blazing hot. We met up with the neighbors who all kept telling me I needed long sleeves…in 105 degree weather. I compromised by putting on short sleeves and a hat, but really thought it’d be ok with my constant sunscreen application. The garden is a huge fenced off space that was originally funded by USAID and was surprisingly lush given that I live in a desert. I spent al morning pulling up beets, piling beets, and sorting beets. I was the only one who had brought water, and was amazed when I left to go home that I was incredibly thirsty no one else had had a sip to drink or eat for over 5 hours in the hot sun. My sunscreen did not work as planned and I ended up the same color as the beets I harvested.

There had been some protests in Swaziland and it’s marula season. When marula fruit is harvested it is turned into a strong alcohol, so there are now road blocks all over Swaziland. When I took my bus to Manzini we all were made to stop, get off the bus with our bags, individually checked, then let back on….twice, on the same road. Sometimes things here are not very practical.

Slight tan-line from beet harvesting

Slight tan-line from beet harvesting

A volunteer at a neighboring site organized a large event for World AIDS day, so I helped staff the event. I was shocked at how many people attended, and were tested at the mobile testing. I was very impressed at how successful the event was, and hope because it’s in my shopping town we can make it an annual event. The next day I went with others who had staffed the event to a country club a couple hours away. The sugar company which makes a very large profit off of the region set it up, and with a pool and air conditioning it is a god send for the summer temperatures here. I am very very happy it is nearby.

We also had our Project Design and Management workshop, which is by far the best training we have had here so far. We were allowed to bring a counterpart from our community and walked through how to choose a project based on your community, plan, and execute it. I am very excited to start more tangible work now that our integration period is over and we are allowed to start working.

A Day in the Life

A Day In the Life Since most of my days are unremarkable, I decided to document one. This is my average Tuesday; 4:00 wake up from the roosters, roll over and go back to sleep 6:00 actually wake up 6:15 get out of bed, boil water, and add water to the filter for drinking water for the day 6:30 eat breakfast of oatmeal, green tea, and an apple 7:00 yoga 8:10 take my 20l bucket to fill at the tap for water 8:30 heat water on the stove for a bath, brush teeth, wash face etc then take a bath-by bath I mean kneeling over a basin while splashing lukewarm water around 8:50 walk to charge my computer 9:00 2 more trips for water 9:15 laundry-hand wash with a bar of lye, dump the water, rinse, and hang to dry outside, repeat until everything is clean 11:00 cook lunch of rice and lentils 11:30 eat lunch and read for a little 12:00 wash dishes 12:30 walk to get my computer back 12:45 read prep material for a workshop on Friday 13:00 sit outside with my host siblings 14:00 visit my neighbor who had a baby last week 15:00 prep and pack for grass root soccer practice tomorrow 16:30 make and eat dinner of instant soup and popcorn 17:00 read in my hammock until the sun sets 17:30 suns down-in for the night 18:00 put on a movie and knit until bedtime captions: sunset on the hammock typical lunch

Some of my Swazi Family

Some of my Swazi Family

3 of my Swazi moms

2 of my Swazi moms

A Sad Puppy Post

In my training village a couple homesteads over there were puppies, and I bought one before I left. My tishela had offered to take her while I moved in etc, and he would drive her to me. Well, that never exactly worked out so I had to ask a couple weeks in a row if I could pick her up. Finally, after a lot of harassing him he agreed to bring Daisy to Manzini for me and I arranged transport from there with a neighbor. I met some friends in Manzini and our teacher came to meet us. He gets there and does not have the dog. After all of the hassle and prodding to get MY dog I was a little frustrated. I had to give him cab fare to go back to his house and get her and bring her back later in the day because he didn’t want to bring her on the bus. Instead of waiting he brings her back immediately and I spent the rest of the day walking around with a dog in a box. Luckily my friends watched her while I went to get rope and made a leash, which she hated. We waited in a park for my neighbor to be done working and she seemed really overwhelmed and not her usual boisterous self, but finally we got her home and all set up in my room.

The next morning Daisy slept all day, and I thought it was just adjustment to the new surroundings. I was finally moving that day so the guy came to move the burglar bars and I waited outside. As we were sitting there I noticed Daisy was wheezing a little so I called my friend who used to work at a vet’s office and tried to ask my babe if there is a vet or someone who could look at her. Being a Sunday, there were no busses out of town that day. While I was trying to use my poor siSwati to communicate I needed help, Daisy died. It’s pretty lonely living where you can hardly communicate with most people so I had been so excited to finally get her back, and it was devastating. I had no idea how to tell my babe, or what to do with a dead puppy in the middle of nowhere. I felt utterly helpless. Had I been in the US or even in Manzini I could have found someone to look at her, and maybe fix it. That was the first time I realized how stranded people are in my community. I lost my dog, but there are also no emergency services for people. I don’t know what I would do if it had been a child sick on a Sunday instead of a pet. I sometimes forget because we as Peace Corps volunteer have insanely comprehensive health care while here, everyone else that lives with me has issues I will never face no matter how long I live here.

The only saving grace of that day was I moved to my new house that afternoon so I actually got to sleep, and didn’t have to stay in the room Daisy died in. My family was so nice and supportive about everything, even if I can’t speak siSwati that well, it was comforting. They helped me move my things into the new house and I distracted myself with unpacking and organizing everything.