November 9, Day 466
I’m so ready to go home. So, when the alarm goes off this morning I jump out of bed with energy for once.
Take my last hot shower for a while.
Pack my bags. Somehow this room is an absolute mess. We have opted not to have housekeeping these last few days and it shows (why waste the resources?).
Walk over to the cafeteria at 7 am to grab breakfast before my taxi arrives at 7:15. They are running late in the cafeteria and the doors are locked. This gives me anxiety because I need to leave.
There’s a wedding party that arrived in the hotel last night, so the halls are filled with wedding folks, not volunteers like I’m used to.
A few other volunteers surface and we wait together. I try to look like I’m calm, but I’m not on the inside.
It’s now 7:10 and I’m still standing here. There are workers inside and I can see the food is all out. I wonder if they will let me just run in and grab a slice of bread since I don’t have time for breakfast?
I knock on the glass door. A woman working inside stops, looks at me, puts her head down and keeps sorting tea packets.
I knock again.
I know she’s ignoring me. I assume because she thinks I’m going to be pushy with her and ask why breakfast is late. On the contrary, she’s welcome to take her time! I’m just wondering if I can grab some bread and go.
Finally she comes to the door and yells through the glass to tell me I should just push the door open. I tell her it’s locked.
She unlocks the door and I ask if I can get some bread. She agrees.
Sneak into the cafeteria and grab toast and some strawberry jam and then leave.
Walk back to my room and collect my bags, toast in hand.
As I arrive in the lobby I see my driver, Kuda, is already waiting. This guy is the best! So dependable and always on time.
Kuda and I greet one another and I throw my bags into the backseat.
“It has been a long time since I last drove you! Good to see you!” he says.
“Hey Kuda! So good to see you, too,” I reply.
He tells me he just drove a bunch of volunteers through Namibia and had a blast. I break the news to him that his children steal his phone at least once a week and call me. I usually get everyone’s butt dials and random children phone dials because I’m the first person in everyone’s phone book, since my name begins with A and B.
Once a week I see that Kuda calls, and then I pick it up, and I can hear a two year old breathing into the phone and dialing numbers. It’s pretty hilarious.
We have a good laugh.
Arrive at the bus rank and take my bags to walk to the bus.
“O wa kae? Maun? Kasane?” (where are you going?) a man working at the bus station says, hoping to escort me to the bus, and assuming I would be going to a tourist destination.
“Nya, Rra, ga ke kopa thuso,” I say (No, sir, I do not need assistance).
“She knows her way!” I hear another guy say, who recognizes me.
Integration win! This is the first time I have ever been to the Gabs bus rank and not had a man escort me to the bus. They know I know the way!
Arrive at the bus, and the woman working says I should bring all my bags with me onto the bus. I have figured out by now that they never want me to put my heavy bags under the boot of the bus because people pay them to transport their goods in the boot. They want to save space so they can make more money.
Climb on the bus, find a seat, put my things down.
Finally, I can relax and eat my toast. Stare out the window and space out while I wait for the bus to leave.
People get on and off the bus selling goods and always target me because they think I have money. Though honestly, if I was secretly rich, I wouldn’t be riding a public bus from the bus rank. I’d own a nice car and drive myself! Nevertheless, they all approach me selling everything from water, socks, pies and battery charging packs.
I usually go into “New York City Abbie” mode and put my head down and don’t make eye contact. I learned a long time ago living in NYC that people are more likely to harass you if you make eye contact.
One guy though is particularly relentless today. He insists on speaking to me in Afrikaans because he assumes I am a white person from South Africa. I tell him I don’t speak Afrikaans, and then he proposes marriage and won’t leave me alone.
I put in my headphones and listen to music and put my head down. He walks away.
A few minutes later, I see someone waving their arms in the corner of my eye. I take out my headphones and look at the woman waving to me.
“That man over there is trying to speak to you!” she says.
I look a few rows sitting in front of me and recognize Mr. Noah from the Brigade. I’ve been working with him in my village to set up my media production course to be held at the Brigade. I wave, he waves. This is actually a good thing! I’ve been trying to get ahold of him for over a week and now he can answer my questions while we are traveling.
Finally, the bus takes off.
It’s quiet and uneventful. I watch the businesses in Gabs fade away as the bus moves further and further into the countryside. Soon I am surrounded by empty bus and rocky hills.
I recognize the woman collecting money and issuing tickets today because she usually starts every bus ride with a prayer. Sure enough, she stands up and asks us all to pray. I put my head down and close my eyes and go along with it.
Afterward, she gives an announcement. It’s in Setswana, so I don’t know everything she says but I hear her say we will make a special stop to get gas in Jwaneng today.
She looks at me. “Mma, did you understand?”
“Eh, Mma, I understand,” I say, even though I really didn’t. I figure I’ll be fine. Anything I need to know I’ll figure out like I usually do.
The bus continues, and I nod off and take a nap.
A few hours later, we arrive in Jwaneng. The bus doesn’t stop at the bus rank like it usually does. It stops at Nando’s chicken restaurant and lets us off so it can get fuel next door.
I walk across the field to the bus rank and use the bathroom. Afterwards, I buy a bottle of water. I had assumed that the woman’s announcement said they would drop us off at Nando’s and then pick us up at the bus rank afterward. I figure there are people at the bus rank who want to take the bus and the bus company won’t want to miss out on those tickets.
However, no one is there waiting for the bus except for Mr. Noah. I walk over to him.
“Is the bus coming to pick us up here at the bus rank after it fuels?” I ask.
“Yes, it is. You told the woman that you understood the message she said, though. Did you not?” he replies.
“I did, but my Setswana is a work in progress, so I think it’s best to check than assume incorrectly,” I say.
He nods in understanding. Before I can even ask him about our class at the Brigade, he tells me the information I wanted to hear. I attempt small talk, but it’s clear he would rather not chat. So, I stand quietly until the bus arrives.
Back on the bus. Drink my water. Space out.
A few hours later, I call my buddy Danny in my village to ask him if he can give me a taxi ride from the bus station to my house. He says he’ll be there.
The bus arrives in my village 30 minutes early, at 2:30 pm. This is record time! Danny is waiting for me in the crowd of people at the exit of the bus and calls my name. He grabs my arm and leads me through the crowd.
“We must go across the street. I couldn’t park at the bus rank because only the taxi drivers who work at the rank are allowed to park there,” he explains.
I see a man in a little silver car parked across the street. It becomes clear that Danny is actually not available to drive me home, and instead called another taxi driver for me to drive me home. What a sweetheart! I don’t think he realizes that I have about 10 different taxi drivers I could have called instead. So, he wanted to make sure I was taken care of.
The man driving me home introduces himself as Poloko.
Arrive at home, and I take Poloko’s number in case I need him to drive me again.
As soon as I walk in the door, I see at least four dead cockroaches on the floor.
I put my things down and inspect the house. There are cockroaches, ticks, beetles, moths and other unknown insects inside my bathtub.
I see a cockroach crawling on my couch and I knock it to the floor and kill it. I then proceed to kill about five more cockroaches.
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN MY HOUSE?!
Take my things into my bedroom and start to unpack. As I’m putting my clothes into my closet, something hits me in the head.
It’s a freaking FLYING cockroach. It’s so hot here that the cockroaches are flying around in my house!
OH HELLL NO.
I go into battle mode. MY HOUSE WILL NOT BE INFESTED AND TAKEN DOWN BY COCKROACHES.
The stupid flying cockroach crawls into my closet and inside my clothes. I go get my cockroach-killing sneaker and dig through the closet overturning clothes until I find it and smash it. It rolls over dead.
Get up and go get a paper towel to clean it up.
When I return to the bedroom, the cockroach is gone.
The freaking cockroach was playing dead!!
I find it and actually kill it this time. And now, I am absolutely horrified by this situation. It’s a good thing I sleep with a bed net around my bed or I would seriously have night terrors for months.
Go get the doom insect killing powder and sprinkle it under my doors, windows and along walls. I plug all of the drains in my house. Where the heck are these beasts coming from?
I can only gather from the concentrated population in my bathtub that they are getting in through the bathtub drain. Goaba has been telling me for months to keep my drains plugged and I forgot to plug them before I left.
Horrifying. I WILL WIN THIS BATTLE.
Unpack my groceries and discover that one of my packs of green olives has exploded all over everything. A bag of Looney Toons pasta has a rip in it and now all of the pasta is covered in olive juice. Guess we’re eating Looney Toons tonight.
Sit down, relax.
Make dinner. Put a face mask on.