I wake up in a panic, frantically run around the house, while drinking coffee by the pot. Life has thrown a lot my way in the last month. I check my to-do list, and turn the page, again… and then again. There is so much that needs to be done, people to see, things to do- i’m lost and don’t know what to do first. I feel like a space cadet with a sugar high- contemplating moving to the moon where email and cellphones are out of range.
REPORTS FROM THE HOMESTEAD
It was 8pm when the phone rang on the first day. I am weary of numbers I don’t recognize, but something tells me to answer. A deep southern accent comes through the line. It’s the new PCV placed at my site. He begins telling me the story of Bonigile, my “little cinderella girl”. He heard shouting and crying from the main house last night. Babe is home, causing his usual chaos. My heart sinks and i’m at a loss of words. What should he do, he wants me to direct him. I tell him to talk to Make, and get the story- if it happens again call the Peace Corps office. I’ve often thought of my little cinderella girl, and imagined what she may be doing on the homestead. I’ve imagined jobs I could get her in the city, or at the school i’m working for. I thought maybe George’s mother, who has a habit of taking in strays, maybe able to help her with her schooling, and give her some direction. I hang up the phone, and make some inquires.
A few days later the phone rings again, with the deep southern accent echoing on through the line. She has been set back to her homestead to stay with her mother- which means she isn’t in school anymore. I can’t imagine a reason why- given her role on my old homestead. This story is missing a plot…
Again the phone rings, it’s been a month since the first call. Apparently she had been caught with a boy, and had lied about visiting her mother, when she actually stayed at a boys house. Cinderella? Surely not. I imagine her situation. Bad grades. School was not going well. She had always told me she wanted to marry and have a family- no big dreams, no hope for university. I suppose a suitor could lead her astray. I still pondered the idea of bringing her to Mbabane for a little guidance, but the responsibility is too great. If she can cause mischief in a tiny community in the boondocks, then the faster paced city would not be an improvement. I severed my roots to Tikhuba that day, and now I must let family matters be family matters.
Zanelle, my neighbor girl, has emailed me recently and informed me she has started university in a fashion design program. This brings light into my heart. My “beautiful Z”, has always had an eye for fashion, never wearing an outfit the same way twice, and never the way it comes off the hanger. She told me once, she figured she would become a teacher, or just a wife- and I told her I thought she could do so much more; fashion was were she was meant to shine. I’m so happy for her on her path- and have big hope for her future.
SOON TO BE ALONE IN A SEA OF SWAZI
The mighty fine group 9 Peace Corps Group I landed in Joburg with 2 years ago is preparing to go home. They are finishing up their service, and have stars and strips in their eyes. I haven’t kept close with many of them, but they were a constant in my life in Swaziland. I am not dreading the day they leave Swaziland, and leave me behind waving from the runway, nor will I be happy the reminder of my PCV experience has finally concluded… but it will be a moment. Some kind of moment…
OUT NUMBERED BY AMERICANS
I have been away for 2 years, and last month I hosted my first visitor. I was so looking forward to having a friend here. Someone I could talk really really fast with, and would understand the importance of a taco, and I wouldn’t have to explain, “it’s like a _______”. Well the month my friend arrived, so did another American friend Mandla went to university with in St Louis, and then shortly after Willow’s boyfriend joined our happy homestead. It was an eventful month to say the least. Although “american time” was fun, i’ve discovered i’m slowly turning…. i’m no longer an American living in Swaziland… I just have a little American hanging on my family tree somewhere. My fast pace is gone. My need for order is hanging by a thread. When people say “lets go”, I don’t stand and walk to the car, I KNOW it really means “lets go… in an hour or so”- and I don’t even get mad about it. I don’t need wifi, or to update my facebook status daily. I think white bread is amazing… and I don’t read the ingredients on anything. I don’t think 100Rand is cheap, because its really only 10 dollars. I know when to speak SiSwati, and when/who thinks it is considered comedy. I don’t worry when I see a man balancing on-top of a ladder with no spotter, or when I see a car full of children with no seat belts. I appreciate that I have a shower AND a bath, and am grateful when there is water pressure at all. I am offended when swazi’s are offended, and i’m pleased with tourists when they too are respectful of the culture.I know Africa, is a continent, not a country. I understand Swaziland has faults like any other country, but its an amazing place and they have the right idea in many ways- even when compared to the USA. I’m proud to be an honorary swazi 🙂
BACK TO SCHOOL
Teaching has been….. interesting. I come to school every Wednesday and Friday prepared for lessons- my day planned, and it almost NEVER happens that way. I am still learning the most important parts of teaching in Swaziland, and that is how the system works. Tests take an entire day, even for 3rd grade, and tests happen every month. There are 3 terms in a year, with a month break in between, and because we are a private school, we also have a week off 2 weeks before the end of each term. A “D” is passing for exams, and swazi names are very had to pronounce because 90% of them have 12+ letters in them. I’ve renamed all my students “honey”, “sweetie”, or ‘hey you”. I am dead set against corporal punishment (spanking or otherwise hitting students), and our school has a policy against it as well… however that is how these kids were trained. I can scream, and yell as much as I want, or hope that respect for a teacher is a given… but it just doesn’t work. I sent my first letters home to parents with 2 students this week, that must be signed and returned to me or they will not be able to take their final exam. It was a hard choice, for I know there parents have no such policy. What can I do?
Otherwise school is going good. As with any primary school teacher, I have proud moments and those born from utter frustration. Their first tests this term I was happy to see they have learned, so at least I am moving forward. With each week I grow more confident, and I see the growth represented in my classroom as well.
MEANT TO BE A BEACH BUM
What would you do if you discovered your family had several acres of beach front land in northern Mozambique? I would develop it in a second! And I plan to. Swaziland is a great place to live, and George and I plan to always call it home, but when offered an opportunity to live on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, I will split my time. The plans are still in development, but we plan to start clearing the land this year and build a backpackers on the beach. First as a small house to rent, and a campsite during peak season and then in 5 years time a complete backpackers. If anyone has any suggestions on a name, please send my way 🙂
WEDDING BELLS TO POLISH
Planning a wedding…sigh… a million miles away, feels like my destination should be the surface of the moon. At least it would alleviate the need for finding a dress. Plans are set, and then reordered, and then wiped clean and started afresh. Why is getting hitched such a process? A good friend of mine is also getting married, and she has been delayed by the priest until she can get certificates from the Catholic Church that everyone in her wedding party has been baptized- even the jewish best man. Our situations differ, but MAN, I now understand why Las Vegas weddings are such a hit.
Getting people here, or there- or just about anywhere seems to be up for debate, or near impossible. We haven’t set a date yet, and are considering running away to an abandoned island with an witness and a ship captain. We will keep the guest list posted, if you would like to be a part of the madness… I mean magic. Wedding could take place anywhere from as early as December to as late as June. I wonder if swaziland has the common law, and we can just wait the 7 years….