3.13.12 I was exhausted from a long, eventful weekend. I wanted nothing more than to curl up on my bed, put on a movie and relax. My computer was positioned, and I was about to get cozy when I noticed movement by my door. From my perch, I glanced outside and saw nothing. Out of the corner of my eye I saw it move again, and then I realized the stirring was coming from on top of my door, which was half way open to let in the afternoon sunlight. “Snake!” I immediately thought. But as it clumsy crawled toward the door frame I ruled snake out. I could see its small claws waving in the air, followed by the unmistakable curled tail with the deadly point… a scorpion. My heart began to beat faster, the air was suddenly warm and stuffy. What the heck to I do with this thing?? I wanted to run, but it was on my door, and I wanted to keep my eye on this ugly thing so I at least knew where it is. It crawled to the wall and began to descend, slowly. I’m from the midwest- no scorpions in Chicago. So many things I didn’t know about these creatures. Are they fast? Can they jump? Are they hard to kill? For some reason I thought catching this beast was the best means of getting rid of it. I slowly descended from my bed, then realized I was barefoot, so I pulled my feet back off the floor, searching for my boots. I quickly grabbed them and put them on, tucking my pajama pants into the top. I got back on my safe bed island, and scanning my kitchen for a container to trap it in, finding an old butter container. OK… here I go. It was still high on the wall, and I envisioned this thing jumping on my head and stabling me in the back, like a WWF wrestler putting me in the sleeper hold. It knew I was coming, and it wasn’t making a move. We stood there in a stare down, me armed with my tupperware, for about 10 minutes. Then I heard a voice, a sweet angels voice. My friend Honey was stopping by to grab something she forgot from her saloon. “HONEY!” I screamed. “Help! I need your HELP!” she opened the door (because I wasn’t going over there) and all I could say was “scorpion! Scorpion!” as I pointed behind the door. She picked up a shoe laying on the floor and with one smooth blow smashed it, like it was nothing more than a small common spider. “Well… she made that look easy…” I thought, feeling a little embarrassed. She handed me back my shoe, and I thanked her for saving my life, and we had a good laugh at my expense. I did eventually get to curl up in my bed, but only after I torn my house apart making sure there were no friends hanging about, and then dropped and tucked my mosquito net around my mattress- just in case. Friday I headed to bombasos for the afternoon. The owner, Jason had his tattoo artist friend from South Africa visiting for the week, and I had an appointment. I have a couple small tattoos already, all marking special moments, or life changing events that happened in my life. My move to Chicago, my trip to Kenya- why not take a token from Swaziland? I decided on a feather, which is a symbol used a lot here in SD. I walked into the lounge at Bombasos, a room I am very familiar with. I told the artist I wanted a feather, but despite my best efforts I couldn’t draw one I liked, so I told him he had creative freedom- just draw. I ended up with a beautiful, feather in a red/brown color- the color of the soil in Africa. It sits across my left wrist, under my kenyan tattoo. I love it 🙂 And I think its pretty cool to have a tattoo by a friend, and in a place I feel comfortable and will always remember in Swaziland. Saturday we were up early packing for the weekend. We were going to Shewulra, a community in the bush, by the border of Mozambique. Our friend Jei-Jei had invited us to his Gogo’s homestead for a pig bri and celebration. I thought this was pretty entertaining, as the boys packed for an epic road trip- although the 2- hour journey was less then the commute I had every weekend. We all piled in the tiny, old 1400 bucky and got comfy for the trip. It was a fun road trip, although we stopped at every gas station from Mbabane to Shewurla because someone had to pee, or wanted snacks, or was thirsty etc. When we finally arrived at the homestead, we greeted Gogo and I impressed her with my American/Sistwati. The homestead was beautiful. Lush green lawn, rose bushes and flowers lined the flower beds around the house, a variety of fruit trees created an orchard on the outer perimeter. From certain areas on the homestead, if you squinted towards the east you could even see the coastline of Mozambique. We arrived mid-afternoon and the sweet smell of the pig roast could be detected from the road. It was a BIG pig, and it had been roasting for a few hours already and was becoming a nice golden brown. We wasted the remaining hours playing crazy 8’s (a favorite card game here), dancing to house music playing from a nearby parked car and answering many questions about how a couple Americans found this bri in the middle of the bush. When the food was ready it was near 8pm, if you’ve seen the photos on facebook, you know that I ATTACKED it. It was the best meat I have ever had in my life- I’m serious. I don’t know what they feed Swazi pigs, but someone needs to share the secret. That night I set up my tent in the middle of the orchard, between the lime, mango and avocado trees. The evening air was a perfect cool temperature, and the moon was so bright everything was covered in a pale blue light. I sat up for hours with my feet in the dewy grass on the backside of my tent, listening to the conversations of the last few friends awake, and watching the clouds pass over the starry sky. Its moments like this that make me fall in love with Swaziland. It is a truly beautiful country, and despite occasional setbacks, and sneaking feelings of loneliness- Its hard not to love life here. Sunday morning I received a text from my friend Kieren, that my business cards were ready. Since I have helped him with Chasing Horizons, he has offered to help me recruit some new business. I can’t get paid, but several of his friends have inquired about helping them start a business too, so Kieren has printed me some business cards to enlist new entrepreneurs. I have enjoyed this role in Swaziland, and am excited to teach others how to get started. Unemployment in SD is at nearly 50%. if you can’t find a job, I say, create your own! One of the first groups I will be helping is a couple of Italian girls who are starting an Agriculture NGO. They were once volunteers here, and have returned to extend their services on their own. I am looking forward to helping them. In addition I am also waiting for my new big project to start. The World Food Program (WFP) has requested the help of a few PCV to work with people on ARV’s (the HIV meds) to start income generating projects in the form of piggeries and chicken farms. This will be a proper project, working with the NGO and the major hospital, Good Shepard, in Siteki. I’m waiting on the details of the project, but expect it will start next month. I am anxious for it to begin, and am excited to be busy. In the meantime, I am working on illustrating 3 children books, another volunteer is translating into Siswati. This has been a really fun project, and I love having an excuse to draw- something I am doing a lot here in SD. In my spare time, I continue to be a crafting machine. I purchased some beautiful Mozambican fabric this weekend, and intend on making some amazing pants and a couple tanks. I have never made clothes before, but my crafting skills have been amplified here so I have faith. If they turn out well, I will teach Zanelle, who I am certain will be the next Swazi Betsy Johnson. Consider my “dip” on the upswing- all is right here in Swaziland 🙂


3 thoughts on “upswing

  1. Ginger, may you have many more “up’s”. I would love to here more about your children’s books illustration project. I always did love your artwork.

  2. I continue to be amazed at your ability to bounce back and your creativeness in so many things, even figuring out how to make a pair of unique pants. From childrens books to helping women start their own business to advertising and appreciating the small great things in life like listening to conversation in the moonlight, love you ginger keep up the great work, you may have a mark on your wrist of swaziland but you will surely leave your mark there is so many ways! mom

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