Discovering My Peace Corps Coping Mechanisms

February 1, Day 550
I wake up in a pool of my own sweat. The power went out while I was sleeping last night and thus the fan shut off. I don’t open my windows anymore ever since I found that girl staring through my bedroom window while I was sleeping, so I’m literally living in a hot sauna right now.

Wake up, open the window.

Walk to the kitchen and wow… it’s a mess. I can’t deal with it anymore, so it’s time to wash dishes.

No water, either. I break out a container of stored water and wash the dishes while coffee seeps in my French press.

Wash, wash, wash.

I hear someone knocking on my door and walk to the door and look through the curtains of the living room window to find out who it is. Through the curtains, I see to three teenage boys hanging out on my front porch. I don’t like this.

I open the door and greet them.

“Dumela, Mma. Re kopa metsi,” one of the boys says (hello Ma’am, we would like some water).

Again, I don’t like this. There are houses all up and down the street. Why did they stop at my house? I think it’s because they know a white person lives here and assume I’m rich and want to see inside my house and ask for things. I obviously don’t care about water, but I don’t want to perpetuate this relationship with people that I am the rich one who gives things out.

I give them all a glass of water, and tell them next time to stand at my gate and yell ko ko instead of entering my property and hanging out on the front porch.

They tell me they live nearby, which makes me more confused as to why they need water from me, and agree to call Ko ko next time.


Go back to washing dishes.

Make eggs and sip on coffee while watching “Grey’s Anatomy”.


Finish cleaning the kitchen. I discover that the standpipe in the yard has a little water coming from it when I turn it on, so I go fill up the water container and pull weeds from the yard while I wait for it to trickle.

Go inside, listen to music and clean the house.

A car pulls up in front of the house. It’s Freddie. Catherine says she wants my broken fan so he can fix it because she doesn’t have a fan right now for her and the baby.

Go get him the fan and sit on the porch and catch up with him.

Freddie goes back to Catherine’s house and I break out the shovel and decide to finish the fourth permagarden once and for all. My cucumbers, sweet potato and watermelon are growing nicely! There are so many green little plants growing and it makes my heart happy.


I realize as I finish putting in eggshells, coffee grounds and manure into the soil that gardening is my coping mechanism.

When you first join the Peace Corps, our training emphasizes the importance of having healthy coping mechanisms. Service can be hard, and sometimes volunteers can turn to unhealthy ways to cope, so they give us lots of suggestions of ways to cope without picking up a drinking habit or something worse.


I realize that my coping mechanism is gardening and dogs. I go outside and dig and dig and dig and feel great afterwards. Dogs and gardening have been my way to stay the course, and I love both. Something about this realization brings me comfort.

Go inside and call Colden.

Call Carrie.

Watch “Grey’s Anatomy”.

Go to bed.

Boroko 🌙

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