November 1, Day 458
Up at 6 am, but as usual, I ain’t having it and sleep until 7 am.
I’m tired, but at least I slept well. I had a dream I was putting a class together and I needed to bathe, but I kept coming across obstacles that prevented me from starting the course. Oh, and my class was on the ocean, too.
Get up and listen to “Women of Indie” on Spotify.
Make eggs, drink warm water (that’s apparently good for you in the morning) and make coffee.
Water the wreckage of plants left behind by the goats. Speaking of goats, they’re all crowded outside eating the leftovers of my Halloween pumpkins. Olive goes out there to chase them down.
Bucket bath, get dressed.
Tonight I am traveling to Lark’s village for a Halloween party and will spend the night. So, I pack a bag of things to bring to Lark’s house.
Olive and I walk to work together while I carry my big hiking backpack.
Arrive at work, and Catherine says she is leaving for the day after lunchtime.
I stay in the office and do some work. At lunch, I go to Choppies and pick up the pasta and yogurt that Lark asked me to bring to her. Her village is about an hour and a half away, and my village is her shopping village. So, every time she has to go to the grocery store she has to travel to my village. It’s much easier if I bring things with me.
I forgot to pack my lunch today, and the only food I can find is a chicken wrap and spicy potato wedges from Choppies.
When I walk out of the grocery store, there is an old man with a walking stick and he is swatting the stick at Olive. The poor pup gets freaked out and goes back to my office to wait for me.
Walk back to work.
Keep working, and realize I need to get something at the wholesaler down the street. So, I walk over there and roam the aisles admiring all of the housewares and bulk foods I can’t afford.
As I am walking back to the office, suddenly a strong windstorm hits. The wind is tremendous and there is sand and rocks flying in the air. I cannot see more than a foot in front of me and rocks are hitting my face.
WHAT. IS. HAPPENING?!
“Runnnn!” The woman at the tuck shop nearby yells to me.
I start to run.
It starts to POUR rain. And when I use the word pour I am only using it because I cannot think of a synonym that is stronger than that word. If you have any suggestions please let me know.
IT. IS. POURING. FREAKING POURING RAIN.
As I am running, a man pulls up to me in his truck.
“Are you okay? Do you need a lift?” He asks me.
“Ke siame, Rra. I am going nearby. Tanki,” I say (I am okay).
When I arrive at the office I find Olive hiding underneath a car in the parking lot. He crawls out and we run to the office for shelter.
My clothes are soaking wet. This dog is soaking wet. The water is pouring down and there is thunder and lightning outside. It’s also super hot.
Good thing I have a change of clothes with me. I change my clothes and it stops pouring and is just normal raining outside. Olive becomes distracted by a group of passing goats and takes off chasing them.
Work for a bit. It’s time to catch the bus. Good thing I brought an umbrella with me. I begin walking to the bus rank, and a man working on the grounds of my office calls out to me.
“Mma! You have forgotten your dog!” He says.
“He is not my dog! He will be fine,” I say.
He looks confused, but then backs off.
Get on the bus. I’m soaking wet, but it’ll be fine. There are no open seats on the bus, so this means I have to stand in the aisle with my giant backpack. A nice woman greets me and makes room in the aisle to put my bag down. The nice woman tells me she lives in a village 30 km away and will give me her seat when she gets up.
Three drunken 20-something guys get on the bus and stand next to me. I recognize one of the guys as the one who offered to clean the weeds out of my yard, didn’t show up, and then came the next day after a hard night of partying and was too hung over to finish the yard. So, I paid him half and he promised to come back and finish the yard and get the other half.
But he never showed up.
I didn’t mind. I ended up cleaning the yard for free myself.
He taps me on the shoulder.
“Hi, I just want to say I’m sorry I never came back to finish cleaning your yard,” he says.
“It’s okay, I just finished it myself,” I reply.
“See?! I told you that you should have gone back to her place to finish the job!” one of his friends shouts.
They all laugh.
He offers to come to my house and finish the job, but I tell him there’s nothing for him to do. That was 6 months ago and by now I’ve done the work myself so it’s fine.
I stand and watch the view go by out the window. The woman sitting in front of me secretly hands the woman next to her a beer. I watch as she pours the beer into a cup. We make eye contact and she gives me the signal for SHHHHHHHH.
“It’s Friday, Mma, enjoy!” I say, and wink at her.
They enjoy their cold beer.
The nice woman who promised me her seat gets up and gives her seat to me. I sit down. Just as I sit down, a very old woman boards the bus.
The woman is holding chickens in her arms. She has a tough look about her, as if she has known hard work for her entire life. Her hands have worked and she knows how to get by.
No one offers her a seat, so I stand so she can sit in my seat with her chickens.
Soon, a seat opens up next to one of the three drunken boys. I sit.
If I were to guess, this guy is about 21 years old. He is wearing army camouflage shorts, a big t-shirt and sunglasses with his hair dyed blonde and into little dreadlocks at the top of his head.
He tells me that he is headed to Gabs with his “N****gas” so they can get all the “B***tches”.
I explain to him that women do not like to be called the B word. Women are not B**tches and it doesn’t make him seem cool to call us that to his friends. I also explain that the N word is a very offensive term in the US. I also tell him to use a condom with those ladies he picks up.
Hey, I’m always on duty, right? Might as well promote condom use when I can.
He says he wants to “check me” and clean my yard. In Botswana, this is a checking culture. It basically means you don’t need to ask to go to someone’s house. You just drop in and check them. Everyone checks each other. However, when a man tells a woman he wants to check her, it’s code for wanting to have sex.
Hence, I say no, do not check me.
The woman drinking her beer next to me is wearing a beautiful traditional African dress. I can tell from the way she is looking at me that she is protecting me. She tells me to keep quiet and look forward. I’m thankful for her.
Another volunteer in a nearby village boards the bus. She is also going to Lark’s house, so we talk and catch up with one another.
We arrive at Lark’s house and she has a whole host of creative goodies that she has made for us with a Halloween theme. There is a big bread bowl in the shape of a spider that was rubbed in charcoal to make it black, chipotle mac n cheese served in a witches cauldron (we actually just use those for normal cooking here) and many other things.
So much fun!
We eat and sip wine and watch “Rosemary’s Baby”. It stops raining but cools off. It’s lovely.
Lark’s house has no running water and no toilet inside. So, we use a series of bowls filled up from the tap outside and all make a trip to the pit latrine. I’m not going to lie, I love a good pit latrine. Your business is just gone, you never have to deal with it!
Lark and I go outside and brush our teeth and spit the toothpaste into the sand.
Everyone goes to bed. I can’t sleep because my stomach is killing me. I shouldn’t have eaten the cheese in that mac n’ cheese and the bugs are eating me alive. There are a trillion mosquitos surrounding me and having an all-you-can-eat buffet on my body. I’m scratching like a hound all night.