Swearing in as Peace Corps Volunteers
Hi everyone, it has been a while since our last post. The internet situation is not convenient to say the least. Hopefully once I get connected at work that will change. The last few weeks of PST flew by and we were all ready for it to be over. Sitting and listening to Power points for two months tends to wear on you. Towards the end I definitely began to feel anxious about leaving. As strange as living with our host family was at the beginning, towards the end, it became very comfortable and normal. We are going to miss them very much. Tonota (our new home village) is only about two hours from Serowe so we plan to visit them often. The last week in Serowe we had our official LPI (language proficiency interview) which caused a lot of stress. Our group (Bots 14) was the first group in Botswana that the Peace Corps held to a higher bench mark. We had to score at an intermediate low level in order to leave after “Swear In” or else we were to be held back in Serowe for an additional week. This put a lot of pressure on everyone, including myself. In the end we both passed at in intermediate mid so I was proud of us. The challenge now is to keep it up and get a tutor in Tonota so that we do not lose it. The last few days were exciting and scary, we knew we had each other but for the rest of the group, this was it. For the next two years they will be on their own, some going to very remote villages in the middle of the country. On Tuesday, October 15th, we had a very nice ceremony with some important people from the Botswana government, US Embassy and of course Peace Corps staff. It was kind of surreal, as many of you know, we have dreamed of being Peace Corps volunteers for some time and this was the day it would be official. After the ceremony, we all celebrated and said our goodbyes. The following morning, everyone would be picked up and taken to their villages to begin what is known as “Lock Down.” This is where for the first 2 ½ month you are supposed to stay in your village so that you can begin to get immersed and learn about your new home. It was sad to say goodbye to our new friends and our host family but overall we were ready to get on with it. Our host family was very sad to see us go, the experience was intimate and really bonded us all. The nice thing is that now we will always have a home and family in Botswana which means a lot since we are so far away from our family and friends in America. It has only been 2 weeks since we left Serowe and we miss them very much. We are planning on going back for Christmas to visit.
|Our wonderful host parents. We will miss them a lot!|
|Going to swear in|
|Finally Peace Corps Volunteers|
|Us with the former Vice President of Botswana|
|Erika (one of our PC BFF's), Neo, Kabo|
|The men of Bots 14|
We got picked up on Wednesday morning by the DAC (District Aids Coordinator, my office) driver. His name is Thabang, we call him TH. It took us about 2 hours to get to Tonota from Serowe. Once we pulled off the highway into Tonota I had this very strange feeling, this would be our new home for the next 2 years. All hope of trees, greenery or hills were immediately washed away as we drove down the main road into town. We drove straight to our new house. When we arrived, it was immediately clear that it was not ready for us to move in. There were two painters in the house, furniture pushed into a corner, overall it was a disaster. My heart dropped, I knew that we would be doing a ton of cleaning and prep in order get moved in but this was scary. Next we drove to the DAC office where TH introduced us to some of the people in the office that I would be working with. We then arrived at my counterpart’s (basically my boss if you want to call it that) office where we sat for the next hour waiting for them to figure out what to do with us since it was obvious that we were not moving into the house that day. They arranged for us to stay in a lodge for 3 nights while the house finished being painted and put together. We were dropped at the lodge, quite a ways out of town and they told us that they would be back to get us on Saturday morning. We were basically stuck in a hotel room for 3 days, let me just say that it is a good thing we like each other. One day we did go into Francistown (big town about 30 min. from Tonota) to do some shopping and we had lunch with some other PCV’s (Peace Corps Volunteers). On Saturday morning we were picked up and brought to the house, this time it was ready for us to move in. The paint looked great, it just gives the whole place a clean look, and is very African in its style. That is not to say that we did not have tons of cleaning to do but overall we are quite happy with the new digs. We live on a compound with a few different dwellings. There are 3 other people that live on the compound with us. In one small house is a very cool women named Kelly, she lives there with her son (6 years old) Tony. Squirrel (yes that is really his name, however these are all shortened names or nicknames, ie. Kelly’s Setswana name is Kelekeni) lives in the other small house. Kelly and Squirrel are both Police Officers which might sound like a nightmare in any other setting other than living in a small African village. It is actually incredibly comforting to live with two cops, again, I can’t actually believe that I am writing that. They are both very cool and I think once again we got extremely lucky with our living situation. Our house (see pictures below) has a living room, dining room, kitchen, room with a toilet, room with a sink and bathtub and two bedrooms. We have electricity and running water, no hot water or shower, so it’s bucket bathing baby! I will explain in a future blog post for those who have no idea what I am talking about. We live about 15 minute walk from Choppies (our local grocery store) which is great. They have a surprising selection of food but trust me there is plenty that you can’t find. Francistown has many stores with better selections so we will probably make a run into town every other week or so. You really have to get creative with food. There are no restaurants so every meal is made by us (ok mostly Erin). We did buy a BBQ (Braii in Botswana) so we have been grilling out. That is all for now, there is so much more to say and show but we will wait for future blog posts, might run out of things to talk about over the next two years. Miss you all! Stay in touch! Email / Calling is probably the best way for now. If you have not called, it is really easy and we would LOVE to hear from you.
Jojo and Erin
|Our African home|
|Our front yard|
|Bedroom (yes that is a mosquito net)|
|Our neighbors, Kelly & Tony|