Sunday, November 6, 2011

Blood oaths, mince meat, diamonds, Somali pirates, doppelgangers, and euchre, OH MY!

I solemnly swear I am up to no good.  Oh wait, that was the Harry Potter one, oops.  Well as far as I know maybe that is the Peace Corps oath.  I decided to start this one with talking about the future instead of the past, because the future (aka this coming week) is very exciting.  If you haven’t guessed by now, this Wednesday is one of the most important days in the life of a PCT.  The last.  On Wednesday I will no longer be a trainee and will be sworn in as a volunteer, finally getting that new title of PCV.  And as far as I know it isn’t really a blood oath, but knowing my luck I will find a way to cut myself on something that day with my klutziness. 

And now let’s rewind the past few weeks.  And because I already started ahead of the present anyway, let’s go with the most recent.  Yesterday (and the night before) constituted literally the longest day I have ever had in Botswana so far.  And I thought waiting at the immigration office a month ago was bad.  But at least it was all for a good cause.  We hosted a thank you party yesterday for all our host families to try and repay a bit of their kindness these past few months.  Considering the time of year, and the goal of showing off some American culture we decided to throw a Thanksgiving celebration (with some minor twists based on food availability). 

One group of people did a great job decorating, including turkeys made of paper hands, carrots, and fat cakes (they are as delicious and bad for you as they sound).  Basically they are just fried dough, but they do something that makes them taste wayyyyyyyy better.  But I better get back on track before I start drooling on my laptop.  They also made a map of the US and we all put where we were from.  There was an entertainment committee that put on a skit about Thanksgiving, did thank you songs, and the best video I have ever seen and I really hope Brandon (the amazing IT whiz who put it together) will give us all a copy.  And the rest of us were cooking.  Hence the long day.  We made a carrot salad, mixed vegetables (frozen bags), stuffing (amazing job John and Carol Chicago on that one), mashed potatoes, rice (just in case we ran out of food), sugar cookies, apple crisp desert, and meatloaf.  Yeah, meatloaf.  Not Thanksgiving per say, but still pretty American (plus birds would have broken the budget).  So Jan and I were in charge of making meatloaf (enough to feed 200 people).  Everyone seemed to like it, but as you know I can’t attest to the taste, and everyone loved the irony of me cooking 50 pounds of meat.  All in all I think we spent about 13-14 hours in the kitchen between prep, cooking, and cleaning.  So almost like pulling a double shift back in my old Subway days.  And the most important part (and huge respect to the entire cooking staff-Jan, Julia, Supriyah, Rose, John, Carol, Margie, Cassie, Ashley, and everyone else who lent a hand in cooking, prep, and cleaning), we got done ahead of schedule.  Go team!

And making the prep night even longer was that earlier in the day we had a field trip to the Jwaneng Diamond Mine.  I got to see where girl’s best friend, and man’s biggest expenditure, comes from.  The Jwaneng mine is actually the world’s richest mine in terms of the large amount of high quality diamonds it produces.  Plus the pit for the mine is just massive.  And they are expanding it.  It was an interesting little tour and considering how much of Botswana’s economy is based on diamonds it was socially interesting to the backbone of the economy essentially.  They wouldn’t let us into the area where they sort the diamonds from the ore, and sorry, but no free samples.  In fact security is so tight in the mine grounds (even just walking around the pit) that if you don’t work for Debswana (DeBeers and the government of Botswana’s joint company) you are not allowed to bend over.  No picking up anything.  Even anything you drop, someone has to pick it up for you.  But they took us into a “vault” which was more a tourist spot, but we got to see some very high quality diamonds from the mine, so all in all a great little field trip. 

Now before anyone asks (and I am sure someone already did) I did not actually see a real Somali pirate.  We got to show the Botswana another great American tradition, Halloween (but minus the candy and less slutty costumes).  I only say less of the slutty costumes since Corey decided to dress as a commercial sex worker.  Cassie was the Somali pirate in question and I think she probably stabbed me at least once with her fake dagger.  I was a Tuck Shop.  Think 7/11 but smaller, and built at the edge of the person who owns it’s yard.  So basically I had a bunch of cell phone airtime, pop cans, and such taped to me.  Nate came as Quailman.  Although the best costumes go to the doppelgangers.  Karla dressed up as Corey, Alex as Julia (she even shaved part of her head for the costume), Julia as Carol Chicago, and my personal favorite Ashley as Brandon.  Everyone got a huge kick out of seeing “themselves” and for some people it took a little while for them to figure it out.  All in all, one of the best Halloweens yet (although I did miss your party Aunt Jackie). 

And besides all of this, the rest of the past few weeks have been the normal day to day stuff.  Although there have been a lot of cards played.  I learned bridge from John and Carol Oregon, taught euchre to Nate, Mia, Lynn, John and Tracy (although John just needed a refresher), Carol Oregon, and Dominque.  So now when at least some of us get together I can get my euchre fix on.  Although it isn’t quite the same as playing with Ryan and Katie via skype, but I am sure we can figure that out sometime in the next few years. 

But yes, this is also my last blog post from training and from Kanye.  Since I leave Thursday I will not be back online until I hit my site (and still no idea if the school has internet), but at the very least I can get on when I go shopping.  Starting Thursday I will be in a town of 450 people working with the Khoisan people, so as soon as I can I will let you all know how that is going.  BTW, my 2 room house with no water or electricity is on a church compound.  So with that in mind it is contact information time!  I already posted most of this on fb, but just in case here is a central location for it all.

Cell: 73916784  (not sure of the country code)
Mailing address:
Adam Hii
Kaudwane Primary School
P.O. Box 526

And finally, happy early birthday to Aunt Shirley, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!