Saturday, June 21, 2008

VILLAGE BOKONE- June, 17, 2008

Forty-eight hours in my training village of Bokone and I am totally charmed. My new family consists of a 33 yo woman whose husband is away working in the mines of S.Africa and hr 9 yo and 8mo. old daughters. I feel extremely fortunate for this match as she is delightful, a wonderful mother, and speaks a little English. There are 7 volunteers in this village and we meet for language and other classes every day. Our schedule still seems to be very full as we are also learning to prepare and cook the local foods. This week every meal is prepared for us, but soon we will be on our own.

The countryside is gorgeous - dramatic buttes and hills rising all around us - it has a Southwest USA feeling... until you see the cattle and sheep hearders brining in their animals every evening at sunset. My room has a full on view of the sunrise and moonrise and the gorgeous golden pinks of sunset. The evening sounds are of cow bells, barking dogs and donkey braying. I am fortunate not to have roosters living around me, as some volunteers are suffering from sleep depravation because of the 3am crowing.

My room for the next 7 weeks is 12'x16' with a new queen bed, a table and 2 chairs for eating, and a table to hold teh burner and pots and pans - and happily a propane heater. I also have my bathing tubs, my pee bucket and a variety of other buckets for very specific purposes. My 'mother' brings me hot water every morning for bathing and she keeps me supplied with boiled water for drinking. We are a football field away from S.Africa to the NE across the river. It is corn harvesting time so most everyone has piles of corn in front of their houses which will soon be turned into meal for 'papa', their main dish.

June 18th
I am imagining that one day I will wake-up and realize that I am not just on a cool adventure vacation....that bucket baths, pee buckets, outhouses, and lantern light are really my life.

The wind is blasting across the countryside today, rattling every window and door, and throwing sandy dust into our eyes. Even the children aren't playing in front of my room today. My room has four types of linoleum on the floor. When the wind blows under the door it puffs-up the linoleum into the center of the room.

We are in classes all day from 8:30 to 4pm - language, health, culture, community organizing, HIV, fundraising, economics, small business, etc etc. This is because our group of 23 is called CHED - Community Health and Economic Development. We are all receiving the same preparation for our final sights with skills and info that we may or may not use.

I am in a language class of 3 - we all know we are the slow ones struggling with the basic greetings and verbs. The whole village joins in helping us. Every person we meet on the road stops to talk, asking us our names and the family we are from and the coutnry we are from. We all have been given Basothu names - unfortunately mine has a gutteal KH and a click in it (Khatljo - meaning success/prosperity). The language has many vowels reminding me of Hawaiian with a little Italian flare thrown in - and the occassional impossible click. I am happy and well. Mostly, am still surprised I am here!!