Sunday, June 10, 2012

John Ottersbach is always right

Yesterday was a very weird day.  And all of the random occurrences led to one conclusion: never fight with John Ottersbach, he is always right (although I am sure Tracy will disagree).

 *Personal protection note* John I forbid you from using this as any sort of evidence during any fight with your wife or myself.  For everyone else, this is fair game.  *End protection*

The majority of yesterday was fairly normal.  Did my laundry, went to school for a while to do computer lessons with some kids, and caught up on some things using the school internet.  That is where the normalcy ended.  And I blame it all on John.  He and Tracy were at a kids' beauty contest in their village.  After realizing that all the kids used the same song to come out to, he was going a little nuts.  But he described the event as "more interesting than anything else in huks right now."  I mentioned that nothing really "interesting" happens in these small Botswana villages.  Every now and then there is a rare fluke, but nothing to really write home about.  At this point he reminded me of when I saw a python that had swallowed a goat.  Touche.  Also, by challenging him that nothing interesting ever happened I had begun the process commonly known as "foot in mouth syndrome."

I went to an event/party last night out at the government workers compound next to the Khutse Gate.  It was hosted by the park to raise money for toilets for the destitute in the village.  See, even parties are about toilets.  Hence my argument of nothing interesting happening.  *Side note* It is stunning how much Peace Corps volunteers can talk about toilets, pit latrines and poop.  I am going to make a fool of myself back in the states.  *End note*  Well the person who comes and picks me and one of the teachers up is not one of the Wildlife Officers.  Instead it is one of the Botswana Government SWAT team members (I didn't even know that existed here).  He started describing to me some of the SWAT training the government had sent him for in the states, which was interesting to hear (point for John).

The second point for John (and I might give him 5 points for this due to the weight of the incident) happened in the 5km ride to the gate from the village.  We ran into a truck that was going into the Game Reserve close to the gate.  Nothing odd there, people do it all the time.  One of the guys in the back of the truck was clearly drunk and was tailgating the moving vehicle (also happens a lot).  Well we stopped to talk to them (pass greetings and all that).  And that was when I learned from the teacher with me who the incredibly drunk man tailgating was.  The President of the main opposition party in Botswana.  If they win the next election he would be the next President of Botswana!  When I told John about that he joked that he was a "man of the people" considering how much people like to drink here (ok John you get 5 points for this one if only for that comment).

Third moment for John being right.  So we finally make it to the event.  And this is when I realize that the event is basically just food and then "let's all get really drunk."  Well I have never actually drank around anyone in my village before.  But last night I decided to say the hell with it and broke that rule.  I did not get drunk, but I wanted to show people it is possible to stop after just a few beers.  Thankfully I managed to avoid the Chibuku passing circle.  That is just nasty stuff.

So I bet you are wondering where drinking gets interesting.  Well, naturally since it was a Botswana party, a lot of bumping and grinding music was played.  Funny thing about the people in my village (well the few villagers and mostly government workers that went), they like to grind on each other...regardless of gender.  Many times during the night I got to see some very drunk government workers (including a few teachers) grind up on each other with no reservations.  I tried to avoid the dance floor, but due to an unfortunate bet with Mma Bafisi anytime she danced I had to.  Well I ended up getting grinded on at one point.  Anyone got a guess as to who from the village grinded on me?  Was it a female teacher?  Male teacher?  Nurse?  Wildlife office?  The answer is none of the above.  Drumroll please.....................................I was the recipient of grinding by the kgosi.  Yup.  The chief of the village.  So I am definitely giving John a point in his argument for that one.  Soon after that I decided I had enough of the party and caught a lift with Africa (yes that is his name) back to the village.

While this was mostly just a way to try and describe my strange day yesterday, I did decide to pay homage to John and his ability to prove me wrong without having to do anything himself.  Kudos John!

In unrelated news I broke out my 2nd blanket last night.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Sports Contest in Khudumelapye

So I already ruined part of this blog post by putting on Facebook how the girls’ soccer team I am coaching did at the sub-zonal sports contest, but I am going ahead with this anyway. 

For those of you who missed all of that news, I coached our girls’ soccer team this year at school.  At the contest our team got 3rd out of 5, and one girl was picked for the regional team.  Not too shabby for the first year of a girls’ team!  Unfortunately the two teams they beat were the other two Peace Corps volunteer schools in the sub-zone.  Sorry Corey and Mia!

Now for the other boring parts (the results).  I only say this is the boring part because I always think random stories are better than statistics.  Boys Football: Team took 1st place and qualified for the next level, great job boys!  Boys Volleyball: 3rd place (out of 3 teams).  This one slightly disgusted me.  I don’t care that they lost, but the coach took some of the boys’ football players after they were done, and swapped them into the volleyball team.  Boys that came to play volleyball did not even get to play while some of those kids got to do two sports.  I was asked if I wanted to swap in some Netball girls into the girls’ soccer team and I told them no since I wanted those kids who came to play soccer (and practiced for weeks) to have the chance to play.  Girls Volleyball: They were the only team.  Seriously.  Netball: Ladies sport, kinda like basketball but with no dribbling, you can only move the ball by passing.  The girls rocked this one taking 1st place!

Story time!  I am going to split story time into 4 sections: accommodation, transport, bathing and interactions with the kids.

Accommodation: You ever sleep in a classroom for 3 days with a few other teachers and about 30 students?  It is a strange thing to say the least.  And like every kid ever did on field trips, they NEVER wanted to sleep.  Between that and the three desks with a sleeping bag on top that was my bed I am stunned I actually slept at all.  Most of the kids were in groups of 3 or 4 so they could share the blankets (it is winter time here after all).  The girls’ room was more crowded so we actually had two of the female teachers crashing with us in the boys room as well, which was funny since them and the one male teacher who is dating someone all shared an area the size of a twin bed.

Transport: First of all it was expected at any time during the day on Monday.  Of course I should have known it would not arrive till 6pm.  We loaded 64 kids, 1 cook, 1 PTA member, and 6 teachers into the cab and back of a giant truck (basically almost like a semi, but the back is not enclosed).  Along with this all the luggage came too.  It was packed back there (luckily I got myself one of the 4 cab spots).  The kids treated the community to songs as they left Kaudwane and arrived in Khudumelapye (as well as on the return journey too).  I was able to ride in this truck many a time that week as due to only one field for two days the girls played at Metsibothloko (Mia’s village and the closest to Khudumelapye). 

Bathing: All of the kids bathed outdoors.  In the wide open.  In the cold.  That must have sucked.  I actually only bathed once during the 3 day contest (although I did wash my face and head each day).  The teachers had set up in the girls’ room a “privacy area” with a metal wash tub.  Basically it was bookcases pushed together to make a fake wall.  It did its job, but me being taller than all the rest much more of me was visible than all of them.  Hence the one day only.  Luckily the teachers did not know I only took 1 full bath.  They thought I was weird enough for not bathing twice a day.  I am sorry, but in the winter time there is no way you are getting me to bathe twice a day.  That is just ridiculous!

Interactions: I had two moments with the kids that really stick out.  One of them was when I spent the evening with about 15 boys.  They somehow got bit by the learning bug (seriously, what kid tries to learn while on a field trip?)  It started with a book they found on HIV and that led to questions about opportunistic infections like TB.  After that we moved into riddle contests.  These kids are clever!  I could not think up anything to stump them.  And they got me a few times.  I thought about doing some American specific ones (like what has 4 eyes but can’t see) but I didn’t think that would be fair. 

The other moment was when I was trying to take a few pictures of some of the kids.  They saw the camera.  As I am sure almost any PCV in Botswana will tell you, as soon as one kid sees your camera, they ALL know you have it.  And the ALL want pictures taken, MANY PICTURES.  Head over to the pictures page to see some of them!  As someone who is a fan of candid shots, it is really hard to get those once they see the camera for the first time. 

Now for a quick general update.  Term 2 is winding down.  Towards the end of the month I kick off basically one month away from my site.  It all starts with a meeting to help plan a Life Skills PCV retreat with the Min of Ed.  Following that is the next Youth Forum (this time looking to be in Salajwe which is the closest village in all Botswana to my site).   After a few more days is vacation in Durban with some others from my group.  Then I come back with just half a week before the actual retreat with the Min of Ed.  Oh, and somewhere in there is PSDN training.  PSDN is the Peer Support and Diversity Network which I was accepted to along with 2 others from Bots 11.  Busy month coming up (but most if not all should be fun) and it kicks off in just a few weeks.  Because of that, not quite sure when the next blog post will be, or what it will be about, but I am planning to do at least one more before Durban.

And with that, hope everyone is doing well.  Happy belated birthday to Katie, Kaylynn, and Dad!  And happy early birthday to Kesselring! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Sorry I have been MIA for a bit over a month.  But this coming week expect 1 (maybe 2 if I am adventurous) and many pictures.