Friday, April 20, 2012

The Village Idiot!

Idiot: A stupid person; a mentally handicapped person; Greek idiotes, a private person, ignorant, a layman.

Village: a group of houses, larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town situated in a rural area; a self contained district within a town or city regarded as having features of village life.

Where I live definitely constitutes a Village. Now, I don't want to categorize myself as an idiot, and I know I'm not stupid, but hey, living in a foreign country, you may do things that make you look, well, different,---so does the meaning of Idiot define my latest events?  You decide!

  1. Communication is a problem with the kids even though most know English. It's also a problem throughout this country, but don't get me started on that! I go into my Form 1 class, and ask if Seo, my counterpart, taught this particular lesson on Adjusting to Secondary School. All the kids say “No” which could mean “Yes.” It's still confusing, so I ask again, reframing the question in my best African accent so they could understand me better---they all say “Yes,” which could mean “No.” Now I have no idea what was taught, so I ask if anyone could tell me the meaning of adjustment,  giving examples of me adjusting to Botswana.   Good, nobody can answer me, therefore, I figured they had not had been taught this, so off I go proceeding with the lesson.  At the end of class, I give homework to draw a map of the school---to which they all pull out their notebooks, showing me their maps of the school.  So, “No” really meant “Yes” afterall, and the kids are looking at me like I'm an-----idiot! Why didn't I figure that out?

  1. Every morning I wake up, run outside to my little garden to watch the miracle of organic veggies sent from home grow. I am so proud and excited that my spinach, beets, and lettuce are growing so tall and fast, that I can't even believe my own eyes. I talk to the veggies, water them, tell Keoki that in no time we'll finally have an organic dinner, just like in California, and he starts licking his chops, as do I in anticipation. It's Sunday, and my teen neighbor Stanley comes over to chat, and we're hovering around the garden. We then notice 4 other women, whom I don't know come in, so they start chatting with us. I say to them, “hey, I just planted these several weeks ago, isn't this great!” Well, all 5 of them burst out in laughter.  Ok, I'm used to being laughed at around these parts, but this time I really don't understand, and the laughter is getting louder, and of course drawing more of a crowd.   Finally, Stanley says, “Tsepho, these are weeds, NOT veggies! “Oh no, say it ain't so Stanley!” With the women and the crowd outside the gate still laughing, they start pulling out my spinach and lettuce----oh, I mean my weeds---leaving me with just small seedlings of the real thing.  I'm just flabbergasted at my being disillusioned----and to think, next week, Keoki and I would've been having “WEED CURRY for dinner!”

  1. It's been over 7 months in Botswana, and over 5 months in my Village. I have adjusted well, and even though my house is big, there is nothing in it, so I get the house thing.  I also have continued to take a bucket bath, not frequently, but when I feel that I should spruce up a bit, or if I'm beginning to smell.  But bathing is worse here than at my family in Kanye's house because I don't have a big heating bucket like they do---I have something of a tea kettle that I boil about 7 times and intersperse that with the cold water that comes from the tap in the tub. Then if I'm lucky, I have a luke warm bath, with water maybe to my shins. The process takes about 45 minutes before I can get in the tub!  Fun!  So in a streak of bad luck lately, or mishaps, my fuse box blows out, leaving me with no electricity, and I can't cook, let alone take a bath. The Africans are so smart, they don't have stoves in the village, they cook outside in big cauldrons!  But ok, I'm a PCV, I'm really not supposed to have these amenities anyway, so it's all cool. I'll just eat some almond butter and jelly beans----yummy!  But by the grace of the African Gods, my landlord shows up at 6pm with a new main switch, and we call Wiseman, the school fix-it-man to come over. Remarkably he comes---it takes 2 hours in the dark to fix---it would have been faster if they came with tools to use, but no, we are holding flashlights, and using my handy dandy swiss army knife! Once done, or as done as he's gonna be for the night, they are getting ready to leave, and I see on the main switchboard that there's this switch for a geezer. Naively, I asked what a geezer was.  My landlord and Wiseman pull me into the kitchen, they show me a switch, and say look---this goes on, and guess what, I have hot water! All this bucket bath work, and I had hot water all along! OY!  They look at me---like what an-----idiot I am!  But I promise, idiotic or not, I'm gonna pretend that the switch doesn't exist, and continue smelling and taking my bucket baths like a good PCV should!

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