November 18, Day 475
Sleep like a rock until 7:45 am, but I feel a sense of anxiety in my chest when I awake. Catherine is gone. I have to do her job and I don’t know how.
Mosey around. Get the water boiling for coffee. There are still no eggs in the village, so I take out oatmeal for breakfast.
Go outside to take down the laundry that I let dry on the line all night. As I’m standing there I hear a group of dogs barking. I look across the street and see Olive running with all of the neighborhood doggy gang.
They’re doing their quarterly session of gang raping the poor one female dog in the neighborhood when she’s in heat. I’ve learned that once in a while she goes into heat and it somehow attracts every male dog in a 3 block radius. They chase her relentlessly and all attempt to rape her until one is successful. The male dogs all get into terrible fights over her, too.
Olive is of course part of the gang. Last time, if you recall, he came home with one testicle ripped open. I’m not in the mood to nurse another injury.
I don’t like the kids he hangs out with in this neighborhood, they’re a bad influence!
“Hey buddy! Hi Olive! Whatcha doing? Come here before you lose another ball,” I call him.
He stops running with the boys, wags his tail and starts running to me from across the street.
Then he stops, gets major FOMO (fear of missing out), turns around and runs with the other dogs.
I can’t blame him, looks like he’s having a fun time.
Let him go and I water the plants and go inside and get dressed for work. Mix up some of the raisins that Mma Jacobs gave to me in exchange for typing 10 pages of notes for the Minister’s Fraternal with cinnamon for a cinnamon raisin oatmeal breakfast. Delish.
It is a cool, cloudy day and I can hear rain sprinkling on the tin roof of my house.
I’m not in the mood for a bucket bath this morning. I’m just not. I’m sorry, I can’t today.
Bontle calls to find out where I am and says Catherine just came to the office. I tell her I’m on my way. Throw a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an orange into my backpack for lunch and my big hydroflask of filtered water.
Ride my bike to the office, but when I arrive Catherine is already gone. Bontle shares with me the five pages of very detailed notes of what we need to accomplish while she’s gone. She plans to be out until the first week of December, so I’ll have to step in and take over her job for three weeks.
Okay, we got this.
I read the notes. Holy smokes, there is A LOT to do. I have no idea where to start. One item alone is simply to plan our district’s World AIDS Day. Hello, that’s a big deal! There are more than 30,000 people who live in our district and I have no idea how to plan a major event.
Sit in the chair and feel how overwhelmed I am. I’ll figure this out, and Bontle and Mabe are here to help.
Okay, first thing’s first, there’s a page dedicated to supplies that need to be ordered for the Men’s Sector football tournament, that I am also apparently planning. Bontle just started work last week and has no idea how to order supplies, but it’s part of her job to do this, so I hand her the page of items to do and ask her to please take care of it.
She asks me to show her how, and I say I’m sorry, I’m just the Peace Corps Volunteer. I wish I knew! I capacity build people and plan interventions for HIV, I’ve never done the input for supplies! I tell her I’ll take the other four pages if she can do this page. She agrees.
Mabe arrives in the office and greets us.
“Abigail, I was just with Mma Molomo. She is driving to Gabs right now. If you run you can probably catch her in the parking lot now now,” he says.
I make a run for it and catch Catherine just before she leaves the parking lot in her car and ask her how she’s doing. She says she has to go to Gabs to handle her mother’s insurance stuff and asks me to create the program for the funeral. Of course, I tell her.
I ask about who is taking care of her daughter and her dog while she is away. She says everything is taken care of. Cool.
Walk back to the office.
Bontle tells me that her next door neighbor killed himself the other day. He hung himself from the tree in his front yard and she went to the funeral this weekend. She says it was very sad because he was 35 and left behind 7 children.
Can you imagine?
Just then, the man from the Minister’s Fraternal arrives. This is the same man who spent 10 minutes insulting how badly I speak Setswana the other day, assumed I am from England and then as a triple insult-whammy had me confused with another white volunteer in the region. He kept calling me Masego and asking me where my brother was.
Once again, he makes fun of my Setswana when he sees me and has me confused with the volunteer in Khuis.
“How long did it take you to learn English? You started learning it in school when you were 6, right, and you’re still learning?” I say.
He claims he was fluent in English within three months. We all laugh, knowing he’s not telling me the truth.
He then hands me 10 pages of notes all written in Setswana in cursive in very sloppy handwriting and asks me to type them up for him. The nerve! He knows full well it is not the job of the District AIDS Coordinator to write minutes for the Minister’s Fraternal! At least Mma Jacobs smiles and gives me bags of raisins when I type things for her. This guy is ungrateful, in my opinion.
“I will only type this up for you if you are nice to me and stop complaining about my Setswana,” I say.
He laughs and asks where my brother is. I once again tell him I don’t have a brother in Botswana.
He leaves and I start typing and quickly realize that the issue isn’t that these notes are written in Setswana. I can read Setswana The issue is that his handwriting is illegible.
I type what I can with the assistance of Mabe and Bontle, who both agree that they can’t read what is written. It takes us a few hours just to do three pages. This is nuts!
We unanimously decide that we will give him what we have written and tell him we will not do this again.
The phone is ringing off the hook today. Catherine’s mother’s funeral will likely be this weekend and everyone wants to know how I am getting to the funeral because they want to ask for a ride. Goaba mentioned she could drive, but now her car is broken down, so I don’t know how I’ll get there. It will likely be in Bokspits, which is wayyyyyyyy in deep south of Botswana, about four hours from here.
Work through lunch on my powerpoint for the media class this week. Reach out to my counterpart and ask him when we can meet to prepare for class. He says he doesn’t know when we will meet, but he’ll make sure we do.
Bontle comes back from lunch and we go through Catherine’s notes one by one to figure out how we are going to accomplish all of this together.
Resume working on my lesson plan for class this week.
Mabe comes back and hangs out in the office. We figure out together what we will all do for World AIDS Day and how to run the Men’s Sector.
Mr. Kole from the Men’s Sector comes to the office and grills me about World AIDS Day. I tell him I don’t know the full details yet, but we will figure it out together. He agrees.
Go back to working.
Catherine calls and says she forgot about her dog, Dawgie and asks me to take care of him while she’s gone. I know I asked earlier, but the poor woman is so overwhelmed right now she probably didn’t hear me. I tell her not to worry about a thing, I’ll take care of her dog while she’s gone.
At 4:30 pm I leave work and walk to Sefalana to get eggs. They always keep the eggs by the meat counter, which always smells so pungent. It can’t be clean back there if I can smell the meat in the back of the store all the way from the entrance! Today is especially ripe and it really turns my stomach, so I turn and walk out of the store.
Walk to Choppies, which smells great. Grab eggs and some pasta and a chicken pie.
Back to work and eat the pie, since I didn’t have time for lunch today. Strap my things to the back of my bicycle and ride to Catherine’s house.
Dawgie is in the yard. He is a gigantic Great Dane, but only a year old. He hasn’t figured out that he is the size of a dinosaur yet and jumps all over me like a little puppy. He literally comes up to my waist, and I’m a really tall person!
Play with Dawgie. Feed him. Belly rubs.
As I ride my bike from Catherine’s house, I see a group of little boys and they greet me. One little boy, maybe 8 years old yells to me.
“Borrow me your bike!” he says.
“That’s never gonna happen, dude,” I reply.
He replies to me saying something about ntsha in Setswana. I have no idea what he just said, but I know that ntsha means dog.
“Did you put the dog on the bag on the back of your bicycle?” he yells to me in english.
It is not until I get a bit further away that I realize what he asked. He asked a very valid question!
Heck, if I were 8 and I saw a lady riding away from playing with a dog and had a bag strapped to the back of her bicycle, I would also logically conclude that the dog is inside that bag on the bike, not bread and pasta.
Get home and put my feet up and sip some electrolytes to try and combat the heat. It’s hot and I need rest.
Just as it gets dark outside I decide to replant some of the plants growing naturally in my yard into the tires in front of my house. I think I should wear gloves or something, but decide not to because I’m lazy.
As I pick up the plant out of the ground, I see a scorpion underneath. This is exactly what I feared, which is why I didn’t want to use my bare hands in the first place! But I did. The little bugger is fast and makes a run for it to get away from me. I try to kill it with my shovel but it’s too fast.
Repot the freakin plant.
Go inside and watch an episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale” until I get hungry.
Decide on broccoli and lemon pasta for dinner. Chat with Colden.
Just as I begin to make the pasta, the power goes out. So, I cook in the dark. Heck, at least this means I can open the doors in my house. Usually I don’t when the lights are on because the lights attract bugs in the night and my house becomes a jungle of bugs. Hence, I live inside of an oven because it gets hot when the doors are closed.
Open the doors, get my head lamp and cook in the dark.
The pasta is absolutely fantastic.
Eat pasta, watch Handmaid’s and talk to Colden.
Head to bed.