Sunday, October 16, 2011

Random Lifestyle Changes

More often than not the daily challenges of being in the Peace Corps turns out to be a comedy if your not busy being frustrated, complaining, or blind.  Nothing is easy about living in a foreign land, even if it does have many of the comforts of home, but sometimes you think you're getting the hang of things, and then again, maybe it's all an illusion.  After sleeping like a baby under my mosquito net last night, I am left alone for the day and thrilled that I can do my laundry the way I want to, eat what I can make given what is in the house, and do my tai chi without Kesego trying to trip me with every move.   I get up around 9, gather my things to do laundry and off I go to fetch the bizzillion buckets it takes to do this correctly.  Here I go, let's get the phosphate contaminated soap that's available, get bucket number one to fill up, and throw in the filthy socks, shorts, and shirts I've been wearing for days in the north, and let's soak and scrub.  I turn the water socket on, and guess who's lucky enough to have no water today?  These socks are standing straight up on their own and beckoning for help, so I go to the water tank that is preserved here in case the water goes out like every other minute.  I then make the clever decision to multi-task, so while things are soaking, breakfast is started.  Ok, I'll make an omelette with the hunk of real cheddar found up north---this is something I know I can do well!  The onions are diced, I'll dice some potato for home fries, then cut some cheese, scramble the eggs and walla, an omelette.  Sounds easy, yes!  Not!  The onions and potato are simmering, and I go to scrub the duds in the bucket.  Scrub, scrub, scrub until by arms hurt---but my menopausal mind forgets that I am also cooking---guess who is burning the family pan and her precious food.  I try to resurrect this, and think I have it handled---go back to put the laundry in bucket number two for first rinse out.  Yet again, forgetful me smells something burning---YIKES!  The pan is getting worse, and the brother who doesn't live here walks in to greet all those that are not here today.  He is soft spoken, says hello, and his nose is sniffing the burnt air.  Inconspicuously, he watches me do my laundry, and I see he is puzzled, if not humored.   The gas goes out on the stove and now I have half cooked burnt potatoes and onions.  This is so much fun I can't tell ya!  Ah, there is electric on the stove also, so let's fumble around until I can figure this out and get my burnt meal under way.  The laundry pin bag has disappeared, so I ask Toy, the brother, and he looks around to find a few, but he is not helpful.  Excellent, I'll just get on my hands and knees to search for dropped laundry pins---this day is going better than expected!  I take my bucket with the rinsed clothes and forget about bucket number 3.  With bucket number 2 in hand, another good decision is made as I pour the excess water on some plants that need watering in this 100 degree heat, but my mind is now concentrating on my food that I don't want to burn more than it has, and all the laundry spills out onto the red dirt we have here in Botswana.  Lucy couldn't do it better I!  Toy sees this, and says, "I don't think you're doing it right!"  Thanks Toy, maybe I can watch you do it better.  Off to re-rinse my filthy clothes, and while that is rinsing, I attend to my omelette which I finally can eat, but looks like my newly cleaned dirty clothes.  My yummy food is being eaten as I ponder how I'm going to scour this pan before anyone else comes home, with nothing to scrub it with, and no water!  I am just beside myself in laughter here, and trying to digest all this, just to look over and see that Toy pulled out the strange washing machine and is doing his laundry in a systematic, sane manner.  Maybe I should ask him to clean the pan also, he seems to know how to do everything right!  Finally, everything is under control, I have some time to do my tai chi, go outside forgetting how hot it is, and ouch---guess who scorches their feet---my feet look like the stupid pan now!  So much for spiritual activity!  The best part of my day is when sister Joy skypes from Beijing.  Besides Kesego and Bao, the other sibling names are Joy, Toy, and Roy, but that's another story!  It was great talking to her, and now I long for real chinese food or anything asian.

After today's fiasco, I was wondering if the road less traveled is traveled less for a reason!  The things we take for granted at home are becoming more recognized as I make these little, but big, random lifestyle changes. Isn't that what this experience is all about---making changes.  It's 6pm, my family walks in from their day out wherever, and asks, "Tshepo, what's for dinner?"  How about I make you all an omelette!

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