signing out & settling in

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I’m not exactly sure what possessed me to think that I’d be able to provide a blog post during my last week at site. I don’t think any of my capacities – emotional, mental, physical – were prepared to commit precious time to a computer screen during my last few days, so I apologize this post is later than planned. That said, I have officially left the village and arrived at my new site. As expected, the past week has been chockfull of ups and downs and it’s both refreshing and, albeit natural, difficult to start anew.

Grade 7 proudly showing off their GrassrootSoccer graduation prizes!

Grade 7 proudly showing off their GrassrootSoccer graduation prizes!

Who's that Zulu lady?  The school staff presented me with new attire at my farewell.

Who’s that Zulu lady? The school staff presented me with new attire at my farewell.

Since my last post, I have packed up my little hovel, finished up projects at school, and enjoyed a lot of just “sitting and being” with my family and community friends. It’s odd to admit now, but there were actually episodes where I was frustrated with the school and village and very much looking forward to moving, shortly followed by moments of cursing myself for thinking in that manner since – let’s be honest – once I leave village life this time, I’ve probably left village life forever. In the past few days I’ve endured a last rural stomach bug, slapped a protective varnish on the World Map, facilitated the grade 7 GrassrootSoccer graduation, and genuinely enjoyed the farewell function my school put on for me (I’m so thankful that they actually listened to me when I told them I wanted a modest affair). Before I knew it, Time had done its thing and had slipped through my fingers, though leaving in its wake memories, photos, and a few more kilometers clocked on my school route and in my heart.

As promised, here are a few lists that I’ve compiled while looking back at the past two years…

Things I’ll miss:

Things I won’t miss:

  • Sitting around the woodstove with my family, ‘heating’ and shooting the breeze
  • Having meaningful conversations or otherwise oddly depthy moments at the most random of times (all PCVs can back me up on this one)
  • Walking to school, or anywhere really, and be serenaded by traditional Zulu songs
  • Playing with children and inventing games with them
  • Living in such a traditional society
  • Rarely seeing pavement or modern building structures
  • Being part of a community, in the truest sense of the word
  • Having such extreme shortage of water
  • Hand-washing clothes (though I’ll still do some)
  • Being stared at, laughed at, jeered at, and touched so much. I still will be in some contexts in the upcoming year, but significantly less so
  • The pit latrine and its windy updraft
  • Dust. Everywhere. Every. Where.

Things that I’ll both miss and not miss (if that makes sense):

  • Being awakened by the sound of water trickling into a bucket. Though semi-annoying, that sound will always represent Mama waking up early to fetch what water she can for the day’s chores.
  • My little porch being carpeted with chocolate jellybeans from goats. Bothersome to sweep off, but this could be the closest I’ll get to living on a farm; a slight fantasy of mine. Same goes for the cacophony of livestock musings at 03:00.
  • Not having a refrigerator, or living without electricity in general. It was definitely enjoyable for the entire two years (I can honestly count on one hand how many times I cursed my situation) but I would really like to start buying some damn cheese.
  • The light knocking (and sometimes eventual hammering) on my door. During times of pure ‘must retreat for alone time in order to survive’ mode, I would ignore visitors but in the back of my mind it was nice to know I had possible connections so close by.
  • Traditional gender roles. As egalitarian as I am when it comes to interchanging the duties of the sexes (and as frustrated as I become sometimes when witnessing the segregated roles), there was always something so humbling in properly greeting a group of older male traditional leaders (with eyes averted and a slight bended-knee bow) or preparing lunch for my sweet Baba. Since I’m sure I’d feel the same way if I were greeting female elders too, perhaps it’s the respect factor that I’m drawn to more so than (some of the) gender roles.

Lessons I’ve learned:

  • If someone’s talking to you, listen. Seriously, listen. Try not to interrupt.
  • If you’re going somewhere but not pressed for time, walk slowly and notice things around you.
  • Be compiling Plan B as you compile Plan A.
  • When entering any potentially threatening situation, know of an out.
  • Plan before leaving the house: have your phone charged, have enough filtered water, have a snack.
  • Do things that you think you don’t want to do; try things that you think you don’t want to try.
  • Tune into the wisdom of elders…there’s a lot to learn from them.

What I miss

And there we have it. I’ve kept it short because I doubt anyone’s attention spans are as long as these lists could be. For the most part, I think all PCVs, other international volunteers, and anyone who’s lived abroad can agree that it’s impossible to accurately express what it’s like to live in a culture or society so unlike the one in which they’ve been raised – one simply must do it to fully understand. I lived in the village for a total of 732 days and I believe I learned something new, and grew more into myself, during each and every one of them.

I’m posting this from my new accommodation at the David Rattray Foundation (henceforth known as the DRF), located within the Fugitives’ Drift Lodge which specializes in historical battle tours of the central KZN area. I’m thrilled about and thankful for several things: having a few weeks of overlap with Jonelle (the PCV who’s served here for the past year) to shadow her and have a smooth handoff in November, living in a beautiful, low-impact house (completely off the grid; mostly solar-run and built out of rammed earth from the location in which it stands), and being in a place that’s a bit more similar to the culture I know best (for example: I can now exercise in shorts and not have a million ogling eyes trained on me). I’m very much looking forward to my Peace Corps extension; delving into the projects of the DRF, meeting new PCVs, and taking pleasure in living in the African bush for another year.

I’m not sure when my next post will be, to be honest. Until then, though, keep on truckin’, and if you’re someone I know from the States, see you soon!

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A gorgeous last sunset in the village.

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Posted in David Rattray Foundation, Everyday Life, Musings... | 3 Comments

sentiment soufflé

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I compose this post with a casserole of emotions: pleasure in documenting the village and crèche development, satisfaction with my last couple weeks of school, and anticipation for my upcoming occupation change which includes the bittersweet necessity of moving away from my village and Zulu family. Yes, indeed, in 2012 I arrived to this quaint mountainside with a slew of conflicting emotions so it’s only appropriate that I depart from it in a similar fashion. I’ve heard that one should always leave a place before s/he is ready to (so that the resounding memories are positive ones). On 5 September I will do just that so we’ll see if the ol’ adage is true. But let’s not focus on my move quite yet; I think a couple of updates from my full throttle, adrenalin-seeking life are in order first…

Baba surveying the creche as it slowly transforms.

Baba surveying the creche as it slowly transforms.

 

The crèche development day occurred as expected on 9 August and it was quite a sight to behold. Taryn, the woman who’s been working with my Baba, pulled out all the stops and created a day that the locals will remember for quite awhile. I believe one long term goal of Peace Corps is to eventually not need a Peace Corps, so I enjoyed taking more or less of a backseat on this project and watching it grow due to the locals’ efforts, namely my Baba and the crèche mama Sizakele. To my surprise, the big day ended up including a combined 25 volunteers from health institutions in my area and the Boksburg Rotaract club from outside Johannesburg.

 

 

Kids answering dental care questions and toddlers playing as Mama and Baba Ndlovu watch on.

Kids answering dental care questions and toddlers playing as Mama and Baba Ndlovu watch on.

I was floored when I saw all of the donations they brought and I’m hopeful to see their longevity. The 32 children that attend the crèche daily now have a carpet to sit on, toys to play with, and hats to keep warm. The volunteer crew also brought posts, fencing, and seeds so that, once the rains come, a garden can be erected next to the crèche to provide better nutrition for the children’s meals. I was extremely pleased with the concise health lessons Taryn and her colleagues facilitated: how to detect early signs of disabilities in children, how to make a rehydration solution (the community members were gifted dual-ended spoons to easily measure the salt and sugar), and how to brush/floss teeth (accompanied by small toothpaste handouts). After lots of playing, the volunteers provided a generous lunch, which officially made it a true Zulu gathering. Before they left, I showed the donors my un-electrified home and whether their impression was amazement or disgust, they quietly hid it well. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the smiles on my community members’ faces, reuniting with Connie (another PCV that came to help), and the echoing feeling at the end of the day that, no matter how small or large, short term or sustainable, good had been done.

Hanging out with my boys :)

Hanging out with my boys 🙂

The execution of the development day meant that I only had four weeks remaining at school and in the community. During week two, I took a day off from school to shadow my Baba as he did his Community Caregiver responsibilities: we teamed up with his

Baba interviewing one of the home visit families (they gave permission for the photo).

Baba interviewing one of the home visit families (they gave permission for the photo).

employer (an AIDS clinic in our town) to do a couple home visits on the far side of my expansive village, about 15kms away. Last December, I commented on how stratified the term poverty can be, and those visits reaffirmed my thinking in an extreme way. We met a 14 year-old boy in grade 2 who wasn’t attending school due to a lack of trousers, many families whose closest water source is 3 kilometers away, and a disabled young lady in a wheelchair who had been raped and now has a child for whom she cannot provide adequate care. Witnessing all of that seriously revealed how varying the extremes of poverty can be, even just a few kilometers away. That evening, I saw the things in my family’s house and yard in a new light, and definitely did not curse the dryness of the yard tap or the sparseness of my food shelves. (Those people’s needs were documented and Baba’s clinic returned the following week to figure out a solid plan of action.)

Learners doing their thing in the library.

Learners doing their thing in the library.

School-wise, I’m writing this at the end of week three, so I can count the number of days I have left at my Peace Corps school on one hand (yikes – I’m glad you can’t hear me hyperventilating). During the portion of Term 3 that I’ve been here for, I’ve really loved how comfortable I am at school and how comfortable the school is with me. It’s not that

Learners during a GrassrootSoccer activity. It's been a joy to see how much they've learned about HIV awareness.

Learners during a GrassrootSoccer activity. It’s been a joy to see how much they’ve learned about HIV awareness.

I’ve only now reached this point, but perhaps because my time here is drawing to a close, I’m more aware of the feeling. At school, I walk down the pathway with my coffee, learners joke with me (or we just giggle if English doesn’t work), they hand me their journals or homework, and everything is right – it’s a great feeling. I’m very content with how everything has come together towards the end…I’ve completed the World Map, the learners are single-handedly running the Library, I’m closing in on another GrassrootSoccer intervention, enjoying the daily banter with staff, and am removing my things from the school so that the next PCV comes into not my school, but her own school – yes, I found out it’s a woman! As all things must end, I’m coming to terms with leaving and my farewell function will be next week so that promises to not be dull or unemotional (especially since it’s the day before I move).

My neighbour Bongi and me celebrating the completion of his latest novel, my favourite childhood book.

My neighbour Bongi and me celebrating the completion of his latest novel, my favourite childhood book.

Where am I moving, you wonder? Why am I not coming home like I’m supposed to, you might ask? Well, I’m pleased to say that I have officially extended my Peace Corps service for another year, and I will be working for the David Rattray Foundation, the NGO that has made several appearances on this blog as well as on the support team for my school and myself the past two years. I’m moving to the DRF’s location a stone’s throw (or two or twelve hundred) from my village so, while I won’t be visiting my family as they bond with their new PCV daughter, I’ll still feel relatively close to them. For September and some of November, I’ll work alongside Jonelle, the PCV who’s currently serving there, before we officially handoff in late November. There seems to be a month missing in there…oh yes, October…I won’t be in South Africa then because I will be VISITING. THE. STATES. Get ready, southeastern USA!

It was a pleasure to do and, thanks to its positioning, the right side of my body is far more tan than the left.

It was a pleasure to do and, thanks to its positioning, the right side of my body is far more tan than the left.

I’m planning on sharing one more post next week before I move. Keep your eyes peeled for some “what I’ve learned from living in a village,” “what I’m happy to leave behind,” and “what I’m going to miss” types of things… Keep well, everyone, near and far.

Home life continues to be entertaining!

Home life continues to be entertaining!

Posted in Issues, Village Life | Leave a comment

uncool as a pickle

Peace Corps has three general goals for its Volunteers: 1) to help the people of interested countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained workers, 2) to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served, and 3) to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

In an effort to encourage the third goal, Peace Corps is holding a blog competition for current PCVs: there’s a public vote online and the winners receive a trip home to give a presentation about their blog and country at the Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C. I almost submitted mine to be considered before I realised that leaving my country just to give a presentation on it did not particularly excite me, nor did the idea of combing through my posts to make sure they were “Peace Corps worthy” – the topics real but not too edgy, the highs of my experience vastly outshining the lows, etc. This blog is for you and me, now and 20 years down the road, and I’m glad I decided not to compromise its true purpose in an attempt to become a bureaucratic poster child. That choice gives me credence to write about what I want to today; something that Peace Corps probably prefers I didn’t, but something ridiculously real to most PCVs’ services: harassment.

The lovely act of harassment may play a minor or major role in one’s service and it’s affected by a seemingly endless slew of reasons: the history of the country, the current state of the country, the time of day, the state/upbringing/desires of the harasser, the PCV’s race, sex, orientation, age, beliefs, clothes, possessions, etc., etc., etc. I’d be shocked if a Volunteer avoided harassment their entire service and there are fairly common sense ways to lessen the intensity and frequency of occurrences. I speak only for myself and my service as a young, white, female Volunteer serving in a semi-freshly post-Apartheid nation and living in a rural village outside a rather oppressed and decrepit shopping town. I receive basically zero harassment in my village; the town is where it reigns trendy. My techniques to avoid or quickly exit encounters include: only being in town during sunlit hours, wearing loose-fitting, unattractive clothing, walking with posture and purpose, donning an extreme ‘bitch face,’ keeping my fists balled (not to fight; fists are more difficult to hold onto than fingers), and, perhaps the most difficult, keeping my cool and balancing my responses so they are level-headed but very firm. The last thing I want is to let them get a rise out of me, causing more heads to turn and labeling me entertaining, though sometimes all I want to do is knee the drunkard in his boys so hard that they pop out of his toothless mouth. The main thing I try to remember is that I am, in basic terms, representing females, white people, the United States (though, naturally, most assume I’m English or Afrikaans), and, most importantly: I’m paving the way and leaving impressions that the next PCVs who come here must step into. Though one time, recently, I seemed to have forgotten all of that when a fellow PCV friend and I lost our cool a bit.

Due to a taxi association strike, we were waiting at our town’s KFC (other than taverns, the only place open after 18:00) for my friend’s principal to fetch us from town. It wasn’t late, maybe 18:30, and although being in town after sunset is completely unsavoury, it was a necessary evil this time. We were sitting and chatting, sporadically turning away the odd person asking for money by explaining that we’re volunteers, when we saw a man come inside strictly to pay us a visit. Completely blacked out, he stumbled towards us mumbling incoherently, probably about money or food or marriage, and, after realising that talking him down wasn’t going to work, we silently moved to stand next to people in line. He followed and, due to the amount of whatever he had consumed, sort of lurched into us, weaving into our faces. The combination of our residual anxiety of being in town after dark, the man’s proximity assaulting our senses, and the dullness in his eyes contrasted with the brightness in the eyes of the motionless onlookers was such a vivid depiction of this country’s internalised oppression that we simply snapped under ‘fight or flight.’ We yelled Zulu phrases we’d come to learn, I may have shoved him (I can’t quite remember), and then we yelled at the people in line for not helping us – something that’s arguably worse than the harassment itself. Because we’re used to people not intervening, it was a joy to see our KFC acquaintance Mavis come out from the kitchen to shoo the man out of the store. Please read carefully because I feel like I’ve made some of you quite nervous: we were never remotely in danger (the man was in no condition to even lift a finger) but just outrageously frustrated. It wasn’t even that bad or abnormal of an experience, but my friend and I cracked (we later decided that breaking once during two years isn’t a bad track record).

In all honesty, y’all, I don’t blame that guy, or really any of the men that harass me. It is absolutely bloody annoying to deal with, but I don’t blame them. They were raised in an extremely male-dominated society in which women are complacently objectified, they are perhaps addicted to drink due to historical Apartheid methods that have potentially become hereditary, and, let’s be honest, I look like a fun, young, rich play toy. My frustrations don’t lie within the question of why they do what they do, but rather within the query of when it will change. Coming from a vastly developed and progressive-thinking nation, it’s difficult to live in a society that doesn’t subscribe to, or has yet to even be exposed to, some of the same egalitarian beliefs. I don’t ever regret my decision to join Peace Corps or live in South Africa, but I think it’s acceptable to still have, voice, and wrestle with frustrations that accompany my choice. It’s sometimes beneficial to lift up the rug and openly discuss what’s been swept under time and time again.

This upcoming weekend brings the awesome crèche and community development day I spoke of in my last post so know that my next update will be a bit shinier and “Peace Corps worthy.”

(Feel free to vote in the blog competition here; there’s one from South Africa!)

Posted in Everyday Life, Village Life | 2 Comments

final mesh, horsie sesh, building crèche

And, six weeks later, she opens her laptop again. (Not really, but it assuages my guilt for not posting in ages.) Today will bring you updates from on and off the playing field: tastes of my Peace Corps Volunteer life and also of the small South African social life I’ve been able to sculpt. I just returned from the mid-school-year holiday and am writing this from my dimly lit hut with a belly full of rehydrated beans, a bottom full of inflated gas, and not an ounce of shame to admit either. Yes, indeed, back to the brazen village life for one final stretch before moving on to my next endeavour. I can’t recall if I’ve revealed this information yet, but I have decided to extend my Peace Corps service for a third year. I will dedicate another post to all the gory details of the who, what, when, where, and why of my upcoming housing and occupation change, but I wanted to voice the fact that South Africa and I aren’t parting just yet because it prefaces what we’re about to get into.

A hearty farewell to my petite blogging buddy, Liz.  Look out, New York!

A hearty farewell to my petite blogging buddy, Liz. Look out, New York!

For PCSA Education Volunteers, this time of year is usually marked by a stalemate of conflicting emotions: panic and dread about leaving villages, families, and projects, but also excitement and hope for returning to the States and starting something new. Coinciding with departures from their communities, Volunteers are usually given a ‘farewell function’ at their school; it’s an event for the school and community to show gratitude and say goodbye via speeches, dances, gifts, and lots of tears from both parties. Of the five Education Volunteers in my geographical cluster, two of us are extending (Katie and myself), and we’ve already attended some of our best friends’ farewell functions as well as witnessed them leave the country. In the Battlefields as of late, it’s been a very intense time emotionally, and I’m not even leaving…just watching most of my bunch go is difficult enough.

2 - SA26

Most of SA26

My Peace Corps group, SA26, recently had its last gathering together: the Close of Service conference. We were able to enjoy camaraderie one last time before some people boarded the plane, many went back to site to start packing up their things, and a few of us began preparations for our extensions. I’ve got to tell y’all…it was weird to see people go. Two years ago, I arrived in this foreign land with these individuals and now I’m watching them leave. Hopefully this doesn’t sound too bad, but I felt less distressed than I anticipated. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have to leave South Africa yet, or perhaps it was a subconscious defense mechanism, but I didn’t feel as I expected. Then again, as I’ve come to realise, if nothing else, Peace Corps makes one adept at two unrelated things: waiting and saying goodbye.

combo

Though the turbulent time for Education Volunteers continues (nearly every week I’m emailing someone a “goodbye and hope to see you soon” note), some of us decided to put emotions on the back burner and enjoy a bit of the social life South Africa offers. Brandon, Briana, Amy, and I left the COS conference and headed to Durban for Africa’s biggest horse race, the Durban July, followed by a few days of very meticulously planned nothing. Having a good time seems to run in my family because our experience at the horse track was greatly enhanced by the one and only Mama Bram. Within the colossal event, we four had pur-chased tickets to the Jack Daniels marquee, and my mom linked us up with a very nice representative who showed us some true southern hospitality within his Tennessee-themed tent (strictly in No. 7 terms; the wagon wheels and overalls stayed in the States where they belong). We spent the day meeting new people, betting on horses (sadly my Kentucky winning streak came to an end, but there’s always next year!), and bopping around on the huge outdoor dance floor to some of South Africa’s top artists. We had a blast and I’m very much looking forward to next year’s races – look out, Jack Daniels!

Dollar dollar bill, y’all.

Dollar dollar bill, y’all.

The next few days in Durban took on the usual enjoyable pace: cooking, catching up with the backpacker staff, wandering the beachfront, playing pool, and just relaxing (the Tekweni couches may have four permanent butt imprints that look suspiciously like PCVs’). We had one very pleasant surprise though: our friend Sheila, with whom I spent my first Christmas here, hooked us up with one of her friends that owns/operates a restaurant so we had a remarkable evening of craft beers and bistro food on the house. If you’re ever in Durban, swing into Marco Paulo for a great meal, staff, and atmosphere (and look for their first dollar on the wall!). I am always floored by the level of generosity and hospitality that South Africans show; it’s something I really appreciate being so far from home. Though it’s never easy, leaving Durban was rather difficult this time because it was accompanied with saying goodbye to some of my crew that will probably be back in the States by the time you’re reading this. I’m enthused for their next chapters in life though it’s hard to realistically say when I’ll see them again. So goes life, eh?

Marco Polo chef Paul’s food vs. mine: a slight discrepancy in quality.  Sometimes you just gotta make oatmeal a bit more fun.

Marco Paulo chef Paul’s food vs. mine: a slight discrepancy in quality. Sometimes you just gotta make oatmeal a bit more fun.

Although it’s usually an arduous mental switch to end a holiday and return to the rural village lifestyle, it’s always so heartwarming to actually arrive at my house…walking up the dirt path, seeing Mama literally jumping up and down in excitement, and being knocked backward by Thabiso launching his increasing mass into my arms – now that’s a home. Since returning, I have gotten back into the routine of cooking by candlelight, thwala-ing buckets with Mama, continuing progress on the World Map, and catching up with Baba. The latter brings us wonderful news…

The to-be crèche, a stone’s throw from the Ndlovu’s. Isn’t it gorgeous? (Also, note the historically iconic Isandlwana mountain in the distance)

Our village is getting a crèche (preschool)! Slowly, Baba – our village’s Community Caregiver if you’ll remember – sculpted the idea of starting a crèche and worked with

Some learners visiting & making bracelets with me over the long holiday.

Some learners visiting & making bracelets with me over the long holiday.

Connie (a Health PCV who visited a while back) on a business plan, selected the local mama to care for the children, graciously accepted 60 children’s books I gave him from the BFA donation, and is finalising legitimate approval with the Department of Home Affairs. I connected him with a volunteer physiotherapist at my town’s hospital and she is planning a Community Outreach Day in August for us – infrastructure donations, lessons on childcare, oral hygienists, food, the works; all to transform our beautifully humble and unused church (people attend a larger one down the mountain) into a preschool for 32 neighbouring children. The importance of children socialising together, as well as being exposed to English, at such a young age cannot be stressed enough. Though the benefits of this investment may not be noted until these children reach schooling age, I’m excited to be involved in the foundation of this project and establishment, especially as my two-year service is drawing to a close. Definitely more to come on this!

Slowly but surely; difficult to find times that aren't too windy to work. Hurrah, 'Murica!

Slowly but surely; difficult to find times that aren’t too windy to work. Hurrah, ‘Murica!

For now, that about does it. In just a couple days I’ll be opening up my spacious abode to four Peace Corps Trainees who arrived in country in early July. Much like I did two years ago, they’ll partake in a ‘site visit’ with a current PCV to see what a village, host family, and school is like. Who knows, perhaps one of them will even be my replacement! Cue tremors of excitement and anxiety. I’ll try to holler at y’all sooner rather than later but, until then, keep well.

Soon this little guy will be reading – in isiZulu and English if I have anything to say about it!

Soon this little guy will be reading – in isiZulu and English if I have anything to say about it!

 

Posted in Travel, Village Life | 1 Comment

rambled eggs

Never before in the States would I be found composing a Word document at 06:30am, let alone even awake by then. But, let’s be honest, Peace Corps has a way of turning anyone’s daily, monthly, yearly, personal, short term, and long term calendars all upside down. Which I don’t find bad at all – the last type of person I want to be is one so regimented that deviating from a plan causes acute anxiety. So here I am: writing a semi-groggy bloggy, bobbing my head to Hot Buttered Rum (“Three Point Two” references Peace Corps!), and sipping pumpkin coffee with my family’s cows’ milk in my 45°F hut. It’s interesting to think that my current situation doesn’t exactly scream ‘rural Africa’, nor does it proclaim ‘city dweller’; it’s a state that millions of people of varying races, nationalities, creeds, orientations, and economic and social strata may enjoy in the early morning (granting literacy and perhaps trading the computer for paper). Kinda cool – I cheers my coffee to all of you who are doing the same as I.

This weekend brings big plans…I’m trimming my hair, straightening up my hut, toting water, spending time with my family, and labeling 60 children’s books I’ve chosen from the Books For Africa shipment to donate to my village’s new crèche (which my Baba set up!). Though this may sound like a couple hours’ labour in my previous life and work ethic, it’s an honest weekend’s productivity in rural Zululand. That huge shift in efficiency was definitely something that needed some getting used to when I arrived. We’ve all heard of ‘Africa time’ and it really is a way of life – not all over Africa, by any means, but at least in the setting that I know. Living the pastoral Zulu culture has taught me to slow down and take my sweet time. I think this definitely has pros when considering the realms of personal growth and fully enjoying moments but perhaps cons as well when considering my eventual reintegration into my prior lifestyle. Depending on what I choose to do, I’m sure I will – in part – go back to running errands, making deadlines, and striving for more/better/faster, but I hope I’ll take the time to thank my cashier while making eye contact, stopping to watch birds fly as I rush to my next destination, and enjoying camaraderie in the evenings sans phone, TV, or computer screens. It’s pretty cool that I, and you, can choose how to live. If we don’t enjoy something about our lives we can (most likely) make a change. Maybe it’ll be a quick fix or maybe it’ll take some time, but the fact that we have autonomy over our lives is not something to be taken for granted or, perhaps most importantly, forgotten.

Humorously, I’m shifting from preaching about taking control of your life to an example of mine in which I caved. Just a couple days ago I reactivated my Facebook account. I’m not quite sure why, especially because I can only see so much of it on my phone, but I think it’s honestly because I missed ‘my people.’ This past week I enjoyed reconnecting with a few friends back home and I think I simply craved more of that…meaning that I can now stalk people and learn what’s new in their lives without them even knowing. In that aspect, Facebook is an interesting device. It almost disconnects people by connecting them. I say this because I’m now more likely to check someone’s wall, info, or photos to see their personal updates than I am to phone or pay them a real, live visit. When I deactivated my account, my profile was 90% complete (whatever that meant). Now that I’m back and website changes have been made, it claims to be 65% complete. Though I’m back online, I simply refuse to add my favourite sports teams, athletes, musicians, or first moments. No, no, screw the monitor-to-monitor connection; we can have a face-to-face conversation if you want to hear about the Braves or Citizen Cope 😉

Though this post has no real point, I think its goal was to pen my Saturday breakfast stream of consciousness. Accomplished, eh? From a chilly aqua hut in South Africa, with steaming coffee and steaming breath, I wish you a satisfying weekend and encourage you to slow down and make connections with people – even the mere cashier holding the occupation we’ve all probably endured in our lives. Enjoy being your own governor!

Posted in Everyday Life, Musings... | 4 Comments