Monday, January 6, 2014

Ngwaga o Mosha! (Happy New Year!)

I can’t believe that it is already 2014!  We hope that everyone had a wonder New Years!  We were able to spend some time with our host family in Serowe for Christmas, and some Peace Corps friends for New Years.  We will be heading to Gaborone (capital of Botswana) for two weeks of Peace Corps training from Jan 10-27.  It will be nice to see everyone from our group and hear how they are all doing in their villages, but two weeks of staying in a hotel, eating tswana food, and sitting through power point presentations seems a little daunting.  We will celebrate our 9th anniversary and my birthday while there, so that will be fun.  Not much else to report, everything this side is great!  Here are some answers to questions we have gotten, and some pictures from the last few weeks. 

Love to all,
Jojo & Erin

Do you have running water?  - Yes we have running water in our house, although we do not have hot water.  In order to get hot water here you need to have a geiser (hot water heater) which is mounted on the side of your house.  We also do not have a shower so we bucket bath.  To bucket bath we will fill two small buckets in the bath tub and use a cup to scoop the water over our bodies.  It does not sound like you would be able to get very clean but it is amazingly efficient and you get used to it really fast.  If it is a bit chilly, we will heat water in our kettle and pour the hot water into the buckets in order to warm it up.  It would be easy to install a sprayer in our bathtub but without hot water it seems like a waste.  Our landlord said that he might install a geiser at some point but we will not hold our breath.  As far as drinking, the water actually tastes really good.  We drink it right out of the tap.  There are some places in Botswana where the water is very salty and needs to be filtered.  In Gaborone, people need to filter or boil the water because it is not safe to drink.  The water does at times go out but not as much here as in other villages.  We always have back up water stored just in case.  

It sounds so hard to have everything moving so slowly.   - This is funny because it is honestly a blessing and curse at the same time.  At least back home you can consciously take a break or slow things down in your life if you feel like you are moving too fast but here there is no choice, everything moves slowly, it is called “Africa time”.  Love it or hate it, you can’t escape it.   I think that back home, it was important to stay busy because it made me feel productive but here with no choice I realize that most of the time back home I would just fill up my time with activities as a way to avoid being bored.  With all that being said I think we both kind of enjoy the slower pace…

Are you planning on traveling? – YES WE PLAN TO TRAVEL A LOT!!!!!!  I can already tell that planning trips and taking them is going to a major element that will keep us going over here.  Unfortunately every day is not an adventure and often life here can be well as mentioned above very slow.  We are planning a trip to Mozambique in March.  One of the problems with traveling around Southern Africa is that to fly, it is very expensive and to bus takes very long (like 2 full days from Tonota to Mozambique).  We have heard amazing things about Mozambique. They are supposed to have great food (lots of seafood, my favorite) and beautiful beaches.  We also plan on exploring all of Botswana.  We have some of the most pristine parks and amazing wildlife in all of Africa.  We would love to get to Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Cape Town.  We will have to see what we can fit in over the next two years.

What do you guys miss the most about US?
Jojo -  Besides our family and friends of course.  I really miss going to dinner!  This is not an option here.  Every meal we eat (exception might be a meal here and there in Francistown which is never as good as you want it to be and very expensive on a Peace Corps budget) we have to cook, it is a bit tiring but I do not want to complain because at least we have a supermarket 15 minute walk away.  They have a good selection of food but of course there is a lot missing.  Don’t fall over laughing but I have actually been cooking a bit here, especially breakfast on the weekends.  Erin has been making a lot of breads/tortillas because the only bread that we can get is a simple white/wheat loaf.  I MISS GOOD BREAD, CHEESE, SEAFOOD, MEXICAN FOOD, ASIAN FOOD, PIZZA (with GC crust, homemade sauce, mama lils, good sausage and fresh Mozz,) WINE, PORK, LETTUCE, and in general a good VARIETY of VEGETABLES.
Erin -  I miss family and friends the most.  It kills me that I can’t meet my newest little nephew Sidor.  Our home is pretty comfortable and even though it might be hard to believe our life here is relatively normal.  You get used to all the little differences pretty quick and then things just become routine, we just happen to live in Africa.  We go to work in the morning, cook dinner, read or watch a movie on the computer, hang out with friends when we can, and skin the occasional goat head for excitement.  Pretty basic stuff.  I agree with everything Jojo has said above.  Going out to dinner and not having to cook is something I definitely miss.  I also miss pork, good beer (beer is actually okay here, but lager is pretty much all you can get), vegatables from the Portland Farmer’s Market or Blake’s back yard, and Laker games (maybe not this season though). 

Ostrich egg.

Equivalent to 24 chicken eggs.

Tswana meat...  I think this was sheep.

Host Dad (Leatame) I love this picture

What are you lookin' at?

Christmas Dinner.  Bone-in prime rib is overrated :)
Elephant poo...
Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

The bush.
This guy was just hanging by the side of the road.
Hornbill getting over on a dung beetle.
Starting some house plants.

Finally getting some herbs planted.

Flowers getting started around our hammock trees.

We built these for tomatoes.  The neighbor kids are great little workers.

Making a braii stand.

Pel.  She's real cute.