(I may have written a blog post about this before, but it disappeared, so I wanted to re-write something similar)
How on earth am I gonna get across to those out there how the Batswana really are. I guess we'll have to pick them apart layer by layer, like the cliche onion. When I first got to Botswana, there was little time to actually get to know people, other than your host family. At that point, and I continue to think this, that my family is very normal, stable, a little too religious for my liking, but other than that, they are perfect, that is for Batswana's. I put it that way because there is an inherent lack of communication style in them, and throughout this country, that can drive one crazy--but that layer I'll tackle at another time.
So let's go out in the real world, the rural world, the working and non-working world. My friend Dee Dee and I sat up half the night a few weeks back, doubled over in hysterics because of three words—I'm so tired! We're not sure if people just say this just to say it, or it it's their diet of porridge and more porridge that weighs them down, the heat, or if they are just down right lazy or apathetic. We cannot figure this out!
Nothing I'm about to say is an exaggeration....so here I go! Someone lifts up a pencil and says “I'm so tired,” We walk a quarter of a block, the person stops to say “I'm so tired,” After a 10 minute briefing with teachers, half of them say “I'm so tired.” During the holiday break, many classrooms were painted, including the library. Books were thrown everywhere, and while some students helped put them away, there was much to do. I offered to help out one morning, so I go in, put about 20 paperbacks in their rightful order, and the library guy asks me to take the new books, label them, and write the number in a ledger. Ok, this is easy! He comes back to check on me 5 minutes later, giving an exasperated sigh, saying, “this is such hard work, you must be so tired.” “Oh yes, I'm so tired I don't think I could do more than another five minutes.” “Oh dear, you better stop now and go rest...see what hard work this is!” “Yeah, I see, I think we both should take a nice long break!” Great idea! My 10 minute, good, excruciating hard working deed is complete, and I'm so proud of my time well spent! Now off to the next task. Since my morning work is completed at 7:50am, I go around school to find a class with no teacher in it. This takes about a minute. I go in, tell the kids to stand up to a little morning moving warm-up of an exercise called Coconut—-anything to remind me of Asia! The kids love it, and after it's done, I ask them if they're tired---I just can't resist! They all say, yes mma Tshepo! Oh, you poor little darlings, but guess what, we're gonna have class anyway! One day, my counterpart asks me to sign in some 20 orphans, write their names down and take any extra belongings they have. Within 2 minutes, “Tsepho, ugh, this is such hard work, I'm so tired, we better take a break.” “What about the orphans standing here?” “We'll come back later.” Great, I wonder if later will ever come! I turn to look at the orphans and say, “see ya later, or never, we're tired.” They look at us like it's the most normal thing in the world.
Seriously, they sound so humorously pathetic, and I can't stop laughing, but I know it's not really funny, but ok, it is funny to my warped cultural adapting mind. Forrest Gump wouldn't get these folks running behind him across the USA! No way baby! I could just see my former driven boss Maureen, and my friend Dana here trying to get something done, it would drive them so totally bizzerk that they'd probably start a “let's not be tired” revolution throughout Botswana. The thing is, these people just say it constantly, and I wonder if it's just become a bad habit, because it typically doesn't always stop them from doing things, it just, well, delays things a bit. I feel like starting serious exercise classes, nutrition classes, or pick-me-up power yoga classes, but I know after one downward dog, I would hear “I'M SO TIRED.”