Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Summer's Eve Walk!

Since it is a hot summer's night, come on and take a stroll with me around the neighborhood.  As I walk around, my thinkings wander to what a good cook I used to be, and now with minimal ingredients to use, I have turned into a cooking dunce.  But you see, walking in and out of the village's dirt paths, Batswana's primarily do their cooking in big iron pots outside behind a stick structure.  The smell of goat, cow, chicken, and veggies or maize permeate through my senses.  Since many homes have a good chunk of land and are not right on top of each other, I think about going from house to house and asking what's for dinner, hoping to be invited, or maybe they'll see how pathetic I am and offer to give me cooking lessons the Botswana way.  Mom has tried with me, but somehow they seem to get it, and I don't!  I can't even find the sticks they use so I can at least build my own stick fortress and pretend I am one of them.  If I invite them over to my house, maybe I can offer them a bowl of coco puffs, what do ya think?

Now continuing along our walk, a beautiful woman stops to greet me, and tells me she is 75 years young because all she eats is the veggies and grains grown in her yard.  She looks 50!  After a few moments, she goes on her merry way leaving me to wonder if my coco puffs are considered vegetarian!  I used to be vegetarian, but gave that up for mid-life crisis---maybe I should reconsider!

garbage truck
Ok onward down another path where I notice that there isn't a stick of garbage.  Where on earth do they put it?  My garbage, which I paid 3 months of pick-up, is over flowing.  So, let's ask someone about this---"We don't have garbage,"  "How can you not have garbage?"  "We thought Americans were supposed to be smart," "Sorry, not when it comes to garbage collection in a foreign country."  "You see, we eat what we make, and we make what we have."  Oh, I get it---maize, veggies, and cow--no garbage, no water bottles, no paper products--nothing but what you intelligent!  No wonder they live til 100!  Now why can't I do this---tomorrow I'm gonna find someone to plow my land and wait for someone to send me seeds from the USA so it's organic, and maybe I won't have to deal with the garbage men!  I don't mean to divert from my walk, but the next morning the garbage truck comes!  This is the best garbage truck I ever saw!

Let's turn left, this looks like a pretty path with traditional mud huts, and fun loving people.  Yup, I picked the right path, a whole flock runs up to me, a flock of family that is, and they all know exactly who I am, and I can't recall anyone, but it's ok, they quickly remind me.  Come, come meet my mama!  Into the house I go, but not without admiring their yard and dwellings.  I tell them how lovely things are, and it only took 2 minutes to fall in love with their home, the yard, and their souls.  The family starts telling me the order of 5 children, how each structure surrounding was built facing the main home according to birth order, and so now I know what each cousin, uncle, and aunts all do---and, I'm supposed to remember all the names such as Nifelwe, Mmpho, Mmabelle.  Yikes, I can barely pronounce my own African name correctly!  All African names have meanings to them, for example, my name, Tshepo, means trust---so why can't I call everyone by their meanings, it would make things so much easier..."Yo, Confidence, I could use a little today!  The family goes on to talk about many things, but most of all how growing up in Mmathethe there was hardly anything but land, and playing with each other was all they had besides their crops.  Hmm, it looks like nothing has changed in 90 years!  I defer questions about America because this is much more interesting.  After a long and hearty conversation, the mama told me they would come fetch me on XMAS day to hear the family sing in a choir, and I get to share to their goat with them..YAY!  (I better remember 40 of their names at least)!   As I walk away and think about this interaction, I guess the term "nothing" is all relative--I bet they still had their sticks to make posts and their cauldron to cook in!  Lucky them!
my friends on our walk
one of the family

 Back on my route, I find my "Grandma's"  home, and yes, a million relatives are all facing her house in order.  So this is where the fam grew up!  Tears welted in my eyes as mom's sister let me in to look. Mom's sister doesn't speak much english, but no words were needed as I meandered through the rooms, and scanned her belongings of 98 years.  Reality is, I am in Mmathethe, yet walking into this house was like seeing my own grandma's home with all of her treasures, photos, and old furniture.  You can almost hear the stories beckoning to be shouted out from the walls.  Soaking this all in, and reflecting on my grandma's life stories, I now know why this grandma always wants to come back to Mmathethe---this is where her spirit is---this is where her tales are!

Hope you enjoyed our walk!  The sun is setting and it's time to go home--wanna join me for dinner--we'll have a big bowl of coco puffs--I'll even slice a banana on top!

"Return to old watering holes for more water, friends and dreams are there to meet you!"  African Proverb!

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