We’re half way through training now, and it’s really flying by! This past week went really fast and was generally really fun. Day-to-day I generally wake up around 6:30, eat cornflakes for breakfast, have language class for 4 hours, and then lunch at the training center which I pack and is usually a PB+J and an apple, and then various training sessions for the afternoon. Sometimes we go downtown after training for a little bit and hang out at the Ko Gae Café which is basically the only place that we can hang out and get food/beer that isn’t super sketchy or full of really drunk men. We have to be home before dark so that means I’m back at my house by 6:30-6:45 every night. For dinner usually either I or my host mom cooks since there’s only two of us in the house. We usually have either rice or mele meal which is this corn meal-type mush/porridge that kind of has the consistency of gluey mashed potatoes but actually isn’t so bad. It doesn’t taste like much on its own but we have it with some kind of vegetable (spinach or cabbage usually) and the two things mixed together is pretty good. It’s been very easy to stay vegetarian here but the diet consists of a lot of starch and a lot of carbs so I’m afraid I’m going to gain weight! Sometimes we also have baked beans or if my host mom is having meat too I’ll make a veggie burger or some other meat substitute which I was so surprised that they have here and taste pretty good. We usually watch the news while we eat dinner which is interesting because it is totally absent of crime or other depressing news like we generally get back home. They usually have about 4 or 5 headlines about politics in Botswana or other African countries, maybe some news about the economy or businesses and other stories like that. Pretty different than the headlines in the States which are usually riddled with murder and rape and all that! It’s important to note though that Botswana is a REALLY sparsely populated place. There are less than 2 million people here and it’s really noticeable, especially after living in a city for the past 4 years. There’s no one here! Really! Its nuts.
Anyway, we had our first language proficiency interview this week which was kind of scary but went well and I understood a lot more than I thought I would so that was good. On Friday we went to the coronation of the new Chief of the Bangwaketse tribe which is the tribe of the area that we are living in. It was a long day but the president was there which was really cool! Also really interesting because if the US president was at an event the security would be crazy, but there wasn’t even a metal detector here! Everyone just walked in and took their seats and the president showed up (on time surprisingly!) escorted by maybe 2 or 3 police officers and just walked down the aisle casually. Another funny thing was that even though this was like a really big event, Batswana are still so informal! People were answering phone calls, eating in the audience, chatting during speeches etc. It was pretty interesting and indicative of the laid-back nature of the culture here. Also interesting was that the chief has to kill a leopard (he get special permission to do this from the government) and wear the skin of the leopard during the coronation. He was also given a spear and a shield from his uncles…and he also got a car!? Talk about a mix of modernity and tradition! Anyway, the event was cool and the luncheon afterward was chaotic of course…they ran out of plates and silverware in about the first five minutes so people were using napkins and random pieces of tinfoil for their food and it was really hectic.
On Saturday we had a cooking practicum aka Iron Chef: Botswana. We split into five groups and each group had to bring something they cooked in on Saturday morning which was tasted by a panel of judges and the winners got pizza! Everyone’s food was awesome. My group made a really good vegetable soup and some kind of weird version of kettle corn with peanut butter on it since we couldn’t make caramel, but it actually turned out tasty! We didn’t win, but the winning group shared their pizza with everyone (except it was a meat-lover’s so I didn’t eat it L ) and it was a really fun day.
Anyway, it’s Sunday now which means its laundry day! We are all leaving early tomorrow morning to travel to current volunteers’ houses to shadow them for the week which I’m really pumped for! Our first experience with Botswana public transport will definitely be an adventure I think!