The Big Butter Debacle

November 27, Day 484

Hop out of bed and take a cold shower. The water pressure is so low in my bathroom that the water won’t come out of the showerhead if I hold it anywhere above my waist. So, I crouch down into a ball and make the shower happen.

Eggs. Coffee. Get dressed and start biking to work.

The past few days, I have seen a mother cow and calf sitting by the side of the road. It is clear that the mother is sick and cannot walk, and the calf is sitting by her side in loyalty. It is sad.

The mother lies on her side with a big string of snot coming from her nose, in pain. I have seen them laying there for two days now.

Today, I notice the mother is gone. There is a big bloodstain and a pile of feces where she was laying, which tells me that someone (perhaps the owner) has killed her to put her out of pain. The baby calf still lies in the same spot, waiting for her mother.

So sad, but it’s a fact of life. This happens in the wild, and in village life.

Make it to work and I might just melt into a puddle of water. It’s a hot, hot day and for whatever reason I decided to wear a red blazer to work. I might regret this decision.

Lock my bike up at her usual parking spot in the parking lot around 8:10, just in time for our 8:30 am meeting with the Men’s Sector at the hospital. I booked the conference room specifically at the request of the chairman of the Men’s Sector; he said it was really important to have a meeting at this time.

As I walk towards the office I hear “Dumela Mpho!” and turn around to find a man calling me from his car in the parking lot.

There are two men, one in the car and one outside of the car leaning into the window. I hear them discussing the men’s sector meeting. They ask me if I can move the meeting to 2:30 pm today instead, because there is a District Development Committee meeting at the same time this morning and they won’t be able to attend.

I tell them sorry, I must keep the meeting at 8:30 because Mr. Kole requested that time. They seem disappointed but understand.

By the time I walk into the office from this conversation it’s 8:25 am, and I’m in panic mode wanting to rush to the meeting but find Mabe and Bontle in the office already, casually talking.

“Abigail, we must move the meeting this morning. There’s a development committee meeting right now. Let’s move it to 2:30,” Mabe says.

Great.

Bontle and Mabe deliberate back and forth about whether we should move the meeting. Ultimately, it’s decided that we should call Mr. Kole and tell him we have to move it. I send a note on Whatsapp to the Men’s Sector to let them know. Apparently, Mr. Kole is already in the conference room and not happy to hear this news.

Mabe is tired and all wired up today. He’s talking really fast and is all stressed out. Bontle and I tell him he will have a heart attack if he doesn’t rest. I’m legitimately worried about him. He works so hard! Then when you give him a day off to rest, he goes and works on building his house instead of resting. He’s just a good guy like that.

I can’t help but notice a lingering smell of goat in the office.

What IS that?? I assume maybe Mabe had goat for breakfast and hasn’t washed his hands. It’s really strong and pungent today.

I sit down and work on my next lesson plan for the media production course.

Suddenly the phone starts ringing off the hook. Everyone is upset that we moved the meeting and they didn’t see the whatsapp notice.

People are asking a lot of questions I don’t know the answers to. So I write them all down and we all agree whoever speaks to Catherine next will ask her these questions.

Mabe calls Catherine and talks to her and gets our questions answered.

I can’t handle the lack of air conditioning again today. Somehow the air conditioner magically works again, but it’s blowing out hot air and we need a remote.

Walk to Mmapula’s office and borrow her remote. Voila! The air conditioner is now blowing cold air. What a treat!

Okay, this office really smells like goat. WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

I start sniffing around, trying to determine the source of the smell.

Bontle thinks I’m nuts. I don’t care. She’ll love me anyways.

Walk over to the Poverty Eradication office and ask Cheza if I can borrow her laptop for the media production course. She agrees and says to come back at 12:20 pm on the dot to pick it up. What a gem! I’m so grateful she will help me.

Go back and work on my lesson plan. Walk back at precisely 12:20 pm, but Cheza’s office is full of people and she’s busy. She says to come back in 10 minutes.

GO back to my office. Walk back to hers to grab the laptop. She has me sign a piece of paper saying I have her laptop, which is totally understandable.

Walk back to the office.

WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THIS FREAKING GOAT SMELL???

Bontle sees me sniffing around like a madman and I tell her I can really smell goat in the office today. She admits that her family recently slaughtered a goat and she had it for breakfast this morning.

Oh.

Okay.

Cool. I guess??? It’s completely normal in the culture here to eat with your hands. Especially meat. My guess is maybe she ate some goat with her hands and hasn’t washed it off with soap yet. Or maybe she did and I can just smell it because I’m sensitive to it.

I drop it.

I’m starving, so, I decide to walk over to Boise and get lunch. For 13 pula I get a big plate of veggies and rice. A great deal!

Walk back to the office and eat. I’m so full I could burst.

Work for a while.

Bontle and I walk over to the hospital for the 2:30 meeting. The entire men’s sector is mad at us for changing the meeting time, so this should be fun.

As we walk into the hospital, the man working at the computer greets me and then says something in Setswana to me.

“I’m sorry, Rra? What does that mean?” I ask.

“I will tell you after your meeting,” he says.

“Abbie, he said he is mad at you,” Bontle tells me as we walk away.

What?

I walk back to the man.

“Rra, why are you mad at me?” I ask.

Everyone starts laughing at the fact that I figured out what he said.

“You kept changing the meeting time for your meeting today! You are driving me mad changing times,” he says.

I apologize and tell him I was asked to change it, and assure him it won’t happen again. We laugh and agree.

As we enter the conference room I see that it is already full. There are maybe 25 men here already and four women, including me.

Mabe shows up and I hand him notes of the things I need to talk about in the meeting, and he handles this meeting like a BOSS. He translates everything I need done in Setswana and leads the entire group.

Then they bring up the menu. We are leaving to conduct a football tournament next week and have ordered food for everyone in the men’s sector to eat and cook while they are there. Catherine gave us a list of food to order and Bontle has been working very hard on making sure it’s done.

I AM NOT KIDDING when I tell you that they discussed butter for over an hour.

YES, BUTTER.

My brain almost exploded.

They demanded we add more butter and oranges to the list. This is the most heated conversation I have ever seen in a meeting.

FOR OVER AN HOUR.

Was anyone worried about HIV testing or mobilizing the community for World AIDS Day??

NO.

They are worried about BUTTER.

I can’t.

I can’t.

I can’t.

I keep my mouth shut and let Mabe and Bontle handle the meeting because if I say anything it likely won’t be very nice.

The meeting lasts for two hours. All of a sudden, I remember that I have to dog sit tonight for Hanlie and Thomas. They are expecting me at their house after work.

Yikes!

Just as we finish, Mabe tells me the man from Hereford has arrived to collect his savingram and wants me to run from the hospital back to our office to go get the savingram so he can drive it 3 hours to Hereford.

I hop in Mabe’s truck quickly without saying goodbye to anyone and we drive to the office. I hand the savingram to Mabe and thank him for his help.

Wait for Bontle so I can lock up the office. She arrives a few minutes later. I pack up my things and bike home.

Sit down, I’m exhausted and it’s probably related to stress and the extreme heat. I turn on the fan and have some cold water for a few minutes.

Pack a bag of clothes and food for the night.

Bike to Hanlie and Thomas’s house. On the way I see a pack of horses and a small foal. Boy, this heat is really unbearable today and they must be feeling it.

The doggies all greet me at the gate and are excited to see me when I arrive.

I immediately change into my swimsuit and dive into the pool. It’s AMAZING!

I feel like a million buckaroonies from that pool. I float at the top for a little bit and relax.

Take a cold shower and then sit down to write the Letter from the Editor for the Peace Corps newsletter this month. Write for a bit longer.

Head to bed.

Boroko 🌙

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