My mind and my senses are in overdrive since coming here, that I don't even know where to begin organizing my thoughts. My private journal is almost filled and all I ever feel like doing is writing. In a year from now things may not be so new, and I just imagine that these blog posts will be consumed with projects, along with the complexities, and layers of relationships formed with my students and village folks. For now though, everything is a story, take for example riding on a Kombie. A Kombie is a van of sorts, with torn, broken seats, and they are the primary means of transport in and out of the village. Kombies are like flying coffins, as they have few safety codes covering their condition. Some have doors held by wires, some have seats that fly out the door with you when you get off. Every time I get on one, I brace myself because they won't leave until it is full or overfull--meaning, it is 100+degrees and people are breathing or sneezing in your ear. The people here also have a superstition of wind, so if you open a window to breath, stares come in all forms. But in the right frame of mind, they are charming! Lucky me got to spend the night in Gabs last week, our Capital, and where the Peace Corps office is. Besides getting a few great meals, my biggest thrill was being able to take a real shower, with real hot water, with real strong water pressure. It's funny how after only 3 months, a shower becomes a luxury! I'm clean for the first time in weeks, and now I have to go back to my dirt paths and cold water bucket baths.
Off to the kombie--I get in, in one minute I get handed someone's huge bag, her phone, her wallet as she gets situated. They never ask if you would mind holding something, it's just given, and thank you afterwards is unheard of. One time I said God Bless You to someone who sneezed, and it started a conversation of the bible. I'll never say that again! I wouldn't mind holding things for others, but on this particularly hot and muggy day, I just want to enjoy being clean for about an hour or two. Woman gets situated, takes her stuff back, gives me a smile. They are piling on now, and someone hands me a kid--doesn't ask--in a split second I'm a mother--cootchy coo little one! Maybe I should just pass the kid around because in a second, I'm done with being a mom. The kid is looking at me like "do I know you?" Nope, but it looks like we better get to know each fast because mom is taking her sweet little time here, and probably likes not schlepping you around at the moment. Finally, mom takes kid back---adios buddy. Funny thing, she didn't even ask for the kid back, just took him, and plopped on the other side of me. We're finally off, packed in like sardines, and the combie driver is stopping every five minutes to let yet another on. I close my eyes to pretend I'm sleeping, but still more stuff is thrown on me--I definately have picked the right seat today! The kombie stops yet again, the driver gets off to schmooze with a buddy, gets back on, stops in 3 minutes, gets out to pee--why he didn't pee 3 minutes ago is beyond me, gets back on, stops again for something, and finally we are on the open road! YAY! I go to open a window, but oops, there is no handle on the window...I am sufficating and sweating bullets...now my shower is but a sweet memory! All of a sudden, I hear my name being called from the back, but my head is stuck between three people and I can't turn it to see who on earth knows me here. Then the poking begins, yes I know someone wants me, but what to do! Finally, my head gets to turn a bit, "Hey Tshepo, remember me!" Politely I say sure, even though I have the slightest idea who this person is, so with a half turned head I strike a conversation about the holidays, asking how to say holiday things in Setswana, and this makes Miss Whoever very happy! She gets off the kombie in nowheresville, leaving me to wonder where on earth she is walking to and where on earth she knew me from. I enjoy the last 40 minutes of my kombie ride in complete sweat and with coils from the seat stabbing my butt!
One day I'll take photos of a kombie, but for now it would cause so much commotion. Thank god I made it back to my sweet village of Mmathethe where I am greeted warmly. They all ask where I've been, like I've been gone for a month, and I tell them I was just having fun on a kombie ride!