Looking back on the past two months, brings into sharp focus how much personal lives are affected by one another. Being with this host family makes me almost want to freeze time so I can keep on enjoying the fruits of what has been here for me. When I first arrived here, I thought I was gonna get a family with 10 snotty nosed kids all over me running all around with shabby clothing, parents who didn't speak english, and living in a shack. I'm glad I had such "Peace Corps" expectations, because this family has surely exceeded all of my expectations and more. They are a family who is highly educated, religious, wise, loving, and with good humor. Actually, great humor! When my mom took me to yet another crusade tonight, I was putting a little blanket around me because I didn't want to change from my shorts and T and had to cover up. She started fixing it for me, stating, "if you do it your way, you'll attract ice to you." Ice, it's hotter than hell here! Her wisdom makes me smile! In all her attempts to get me to cook the African way, she says "Tshepo, a family who cooks together, eats together." Hey, I wouldn't have thought of it like that mom, that really makes me want to chop more cabbage! The other night, it was very late before dinner was started, and with mom barking out my duties for this cooking event, I start singing and doing "The Twist" with Kesego. Within two minutes, mom, with her wooden spoon in hand, joins in, and it takes an hour to finish cooking because of Chubby Checker! We were dancing, singing, and laughing when Dad walks in, looking at them like they've been taken over by American culture. This is life with my family! We are constantly laughing, and while people of Botswana are not so affectionate with each other, they are with me.
Noticeable and distinct gender differences exists in Botswana which can be a bit annoying. The man is the head and that's that! He is served dinner on a tray, and he doesn't expect to put his dish in the sink. The women do all the hard work, but I've made a joke of it with my dad here, who also has good humor. Mom had a cold a few weeks ago, and he was making motogo, soft porridge. I walked in the kitchen and almost yelled out for joy that he was cooking. He turns with his handsome smile, laughs, and says "this is the only thing I know how to cook." Needless to say, we had motogo for the next 5 meals. There was no way I was going to offer to help because I was enjoying the scene too much. He also said he'd do the dishes, and the next morning we found all dirty dishes put in the cabinet. He's pitiful! But a fun pitiful! This time, I told him that I would be the one praying for him! He took me seriously, and made me say their nightly prayer! I got a big applause!
My older sister, Peo, is 23, and we have had long chats about dating, men, and all of our cultural differences. Even though she has had other exposure by studying in England for several years, she still adhere's to tradition, and wouldn't think of bringing a boyfriend home to meet the family unless they got engaged. At that point, the families would start planning the wedding, and the uncles give the newlyweds 6 cows for a dowry. Cows are obviously very important here, just ask my cow friend who is still hovering in front of the cafe waiting for me to take him back to America for a better life! Back to Peo, who after so much badgering from me, says it's in her Botswana DNA to act the way she does. Her sister Joy who is living in England, but recently is doing an internship in China, is slightly more progressive, but still is accepting of her DNA as well.
My best friend Kesego is another story. She is such a slippery little devil, and I have grown to love her for that. Everyday gets richer with her. She has tried to teach me Setswana words, and in return I teach her English. Her English now is way better than my Setswana. But she doesn't give up on me. These days though, she is putting her hands over her ears when we tell her I'm leaving next week. That is heartbreaking to me! The other day, I was telling my friend Karla that I was going nuts trying to study for our test because Kesego doesn't leave me alone. Karla, who always has all the answers, slipped me a dvd of Looney Tunes. Wow, I'm gonna shove the kid in front of the TV computer, just like a good American would do to shut a kid up for a half hour while I study. It worked! She had never seen such a thing, her eyes were as big as saucers, and her hand and body gestures were a sight to see as Sylvester did his thing. Needless to say, no studying was done, I was also glued to Looney Tunes and Kesego's priceless expressions!