October 29, Day 455
Up and at ‘em! Meditate. Breakfast.
I switched up my routine for once and made eggs with garlic and sun dried tomatoes. Living on the edge! It was actually decent.
And guess what? The water is flowwwiiinnggg today in my house. Woo hoo!
Olive is off doing whatever Olive does when he’s not in my yard. Probably enticing other ladies in the village to open their homes and give him a comfortable couch. What a player.
But, this is good news because it means I can go to work in peace without worrying that he will cause a scene.
Get dressed. Ride my bike to work, say hello to Catherine. I collect a stack of savingrams to deliver to other government offices. It’s an invitation to our Sub-DMSAC meeting (District Multi-Sectoral AIDS Committee). Basically, no one will show up or do anything without a piece of government paper that says to do it. So that’s why I’m delivering these invitations.
Ride my bike to the other side of the village to the Council building. Deliver a savingram to the Senior Administrative Council Secretary. She says she likes my outfit today. Ke a leboga, mma! (thank you!)
Now it’s time to tackle my trash.
We have garbage collection in my village, but for some reason the garbage truck hasn’t come to my house in over two months. The garbage is really collecting up and it’s a problem. Sometimes the garbage truck breaks down for a few months, but in this case, I’ve seen the garbage truck around town and it just ain’t stopping at my house.
I have been meaning to stop by the environmental office to find out why no one is collecting my garbage for a while, but I never come to this side of town. So, the savingram gave me a good reason to find out what’s up with my trash.
Walk into one of the council buildings and find the Environmental office. I’m clearly disturbing a man who is in a meeting in his office, but he is friendly nevertheless. The dude says yes, this is the environmental office, but the office I need is in the building that looks just like this one but is next door.
I’m super confused. I knew I was in the wrong building but it literally looks EXACTLY the same. There’s just a different man at the desk. It’s like a twilight zone version of the environmental office.
Walk to the other twilight zone building, find a woman to help me in the right environmental office. She is concerned that no one is collecting my garbage. She says they switched to a private trash collection company a few months ago. I suspect maybe my house was left off the list of people’s houses to collect trash at. Either way, she’ll solve it.
I also ask to pay for another 10 months of trash collection. She fills out a form, I walk it downstairs to the revenue office.
Pay the revenue woman, get my paper stamped.
Walk back to the Environmental office and show her my stamped paper. She hands me another stamped paper.
I guess that’s all there is to it.
Bike over to the revenue office. The female security guard there remembers me from the rent paying fiasco a few months ago.
“Where are all your dogs?” she asks.
I tell her I’ve just got Olive these days and he had better places to be today. She laughs. I walk to the inquiry desk and hand over the savingram.
Back on the bike. Ride over to the magistrate court. The security guard points me to a glass window box in the corner of the waiting room of the courthouse. It’s totally empty in here. I can see the top of a woman’s head poking above the glass.
Hand the woman the savingram. She giggles at my Setswana and seems to be unenthusiastic today. She also seems to be confused as to why I am here, though I have explained who I am. Then suddenly, I see a spark in her eye and she lights up.
“Ah, yes! I know you!” she says. “You are the woman who lives near me and likes dogs. I have watched you with the dogs. You are always massaging them and they show so much love for you. They must know you like dogs and so they like you back.”
“Yes, that is me! I like to pet dogs. Eish they are following me everywhere though,” I say.
We both laugh.
Back on the bike, and ride all the way back to work. It’s only 11 am, but I feel like I’ve had an entire day already!
Walk over to the hospital and meet with my media club counterpart. We worked together for the next few hours to prepare for the lessons we will teach. Work through lunch.
Mabe calls and says that Catherine can’t find her key to the office and asks me for my key. He says he’s already at the hospital. I walk outside and hand over my key.
“Colden is coming to Botswana tomorrow!” Mabe yells from his car window as he drives away. I know he’s yanking my chain. Colden is in New York. I can hear Mabe roaring with laughter as the car leaves the hospital grounds.
I finish my work at the hospital around 2:30 pmand run into Goaba. She isn’t feeling well today and has to walk down the road to get a night bus ticket for her supervisor. I tell her I’ll get the bus ticket so she can rest.
Walk across the street to the bus ticket office, but it’s locked. The group of men sitting at the picnic table outside tell me that the woman working in the bus office decided to go shopping at PEP and will be back later.
Pop in next door to Mr. Pie and get some ma fresh (French fries, kinda). Put the chips seasoning and vinegar on it and it’s delicious. Olive’s owner is a young girl who lives near me. Her mother works at Mr. Pie and happens to be at the cash register.
I tell the mother that a man claimed to be Olive’s owner the other day and said he would come to get him at my house when I leave the Peace Corps. I asked what his name was, and he told me Blessing.
When I told Catherine the story a few days ago, her eyes popped wide open when I said the name Blessing.
“Abbie, that name is not a Botswana name. That is a man from Zimbabwe. I want you never to speak to him again, and if you see him, you show him to me. He could be dangerous and I do not want him knowing where you live,” she warned.
I ask Olive’s grandmother if she knows a man named Blessing, or has a man staying with her who would claim to be his owner.
“No, there is no man staying with us. That man is surely telling you lies!” she says. She thanks me for taking care of her dog and says she will come to check me at my house this weekend. Cool.
Go outside and find a seat at a picnic table. There is already a man sitting on the bench but he says I can share it.
As I sit at the table, I face a primary (or elementary) school. There is a big sign in front of the school that says “Batsadi, nama ya tonki e teng”.
I sit and try to decipher what this means. As I’m thinking, the man next to me speaks up.
“Do you eat donkey meat, too?” he says.
“Um, what? What do you mean, too? I am a vegetarian,” I reply.
“Well, it seems that people here eat donkey meat,” he says.
“Why do you say that?” I ask.
“That is what the sign says across the street at the school.”
Ohhhh, yes, he is right! It says “Everyone, we have donkey meat.”
Well, that is certainly not what I expected to see on a sign in front of a school for small children, but I have to give it to them for excellent advertising.
The man and I chat for a bit. He tells me he is waiting for the night bus and lives in Gaborone. The bus doesn’t leave for another 6 hours, so he’ll be sitting at this table for a long time. When I tell him I’m a Peace Corps volunteer he says “Oh, that is still around?!”
I wish I could say that’s an unusual response to Peace Corps, but I admit I’ve received that same response from people in the US, too.
YES, the Peace Corps is still around. Clearly.
It has become abundantly clear that this woman working at the bus stop has no intention of coming back from her shopping trip. So, I walk back to the hospital and give the payment voucher back to Goaba. She is locked inside her office laying on the couch in the dark because she is so sick. Poor thing.
Deliver savingrams to the Prison, immigration, omang, labor and gender offices.
Walk back to work and see Mabe drive by. He points his finger in the air and twirls it, which is the hand signal for “I’ll be right back.”
Catherine is in the office and wants to apply for a program called IREX that sends people to the US to study community development for a few months. I help her craft responses and edit her application.
Finish around 5 pm. I’m supposed to have a video date with Colden tonight for our 6 month anniversary, but I’m running late and push our start time off a bit.
Walk to the grocery store and pick up a few things. While standing in the checkout line, I notice that it is so hot out that all of the Cadbury chocolate candy bars have melted. They’re liquid flopping around inside the package.
Walk back to work to get my bike.
When I arrive home, Olive is waiting for me in the yard. He’s super excited to see me. I missed my little furry friend today!
Water my plants. My basil is growing fast and looking so beautiful!
Space out on the couch for a bit. Talk to Colden for a bit. Munch on sour skittles (that’s a thing here, do they have them in the US? Because they’re amazing.)
Write. Write some more.
The horses looked at me like I was interrupting something when I walked by