A Travellerspoint blog

Going home for real! Home!!!!!

Processing out for PC; Namibia; SSI loss; reflections on Africa

Friday, March 15; 7:02 London time; sitting in the ever so peaceful American Airlines lounge in transit to my home airport: RDU

So much is swirling around in my mind as I wait for several hours for my flight to NC. It’s hard to imagine what it will feel like to be met by my friend Barb who dropped me off for the beginning of this journey….I know I’ll melt into her welcome home hug. Yesterday at the airport in Johannesburg, Keith and I shared a long, warm hug as we parted until we can meet again. Truly this last year has afforded us the chance to deepen our friendship and share many wonderful adventures of which Namibia was one…more about that later.

But let me go back to relate about the last week in Botswana and processing out of the PC. PCRV Juergen and I were together for the week and had to laugh at ourselves as we went to a ‘fancy’ restaurant, Park 27, in Gabarone our first night there. The menu was so large and varied that we were like country bumpkins come to town and the waiter was actually laughing with us! We did all the medical/dental/paperwork stuff with relative ease but the biggest concern I had was the exit interview with the acting country director…..wanting to be honest but not conveying any hostility. It went quite well…I was very direct in the disappointment I had experienced with my lack of sufficient work and honest in my view that PC had not adequately prepared the site or responded to knowing that I was mostly idle. I experienced her as genuinely interested and offering a sincere apology along with an observation that Botswana is not really all that good at accessing what PCVs can offer, particularly the one year volunteers. After the interview, the process felt complete. To our surprise (the 3 of us remaining), there was a ‘ringing out’ gathering of the staff on our last day there…..comments by the staff and a chance for us to relate our experience. While I was able to express gratitude for some aspects of support, I was not by any means effusive or even complimentary regarding the support offered for me in my placement…..comments were general. With great relief, Juergen and I went for one last meal at Cafe Dijo and I met PCV Katie at my hotel for a visit that evening and the next morning. We had a lovely time together and I feel have laid the groundwork for an ongoing friendship. In contrast, prior to leaving Serowe I followed up with the person who had ghosted me (post from a while ago) and learned of the judgements she had been holding about me; actually what she said to me was, in my view, insulting and with an air of superiority, so I ended the relationship……patting myself on the back for standing up for myself.

Regarding my current way of relating to the past year of the PCVR time, I’m calling it a mostly dysfunctional time re: the work experience with moments of pleasure: the work with the mentors; the connection with Mary and her family and others in Serowe; my cats; the connection and work with Gase at the museum; the support of all of you; and of course all the time and travel I had with Keith. I learned this week that a staff member at SSI had died in his sleep and when I sent my condolences, learned that he had liked to imitate my American accent in what was a fun, appreciative way. While I didn’t know him well, he was always friendly and I wish he had shared his fun at imitation with me!

Africa: this past year has really afforded me a closer experience of this continent. While this is a generalization, my experience is that it’s a hard world here for so many in all these countries….of course there is no overall Africa as there is no overall United States. Corruption and violence exists in many countries and even when there is wealth re: the vast mining and other resources of many countries, there is a view by locals that the benefits do not trickle out to the population in general; that often the wealth goes into the hands of the government officials and not toward the common good of ensuring a good infrastructure . Danger certainly exists for women and children in countries like Nigeria and others; gender based violence is common and not viewed as an injustice. The things we focus on like politically correct language and equity issues would be luxury concepts in most places and actually are viewed with some humor or confusion. Folks are watching the unfolding presidential race with clear trepidation, a worry about Biden and his age and with wonderment that no younger smart folks have tried to run as well. I realize even more how what happens in the US is a source of concern for spill out impact in the world. The experience we get as tourists is not really the actual world of Africa….but it’s good to come here as a tourist for all the beauty and wonderment of Africa. I remain grateful for the peaceful life I had in Botswana and will be happy to get back to the US with all it’s complexity. I also have realized how often my observations are just opinions and want to commit to better knowledge and avoidance of speaking just from opinions or at least stating that my expression is opinion based….this will likely be a full time awareness process for me! 😵‍💫

Closing for now with more about Namibia to come!

Tuesday, March 19; 7:50pm; temperature 49 after early morning temp of 32!; sitting on my sofa in the living room of my Chapel Hill home…whew!!!!

Well I’m truly home now and the last few days have been devoted to unpacking, making various appointments, seeing a few folks…settling in and I am most grateful to be here again.

Let me relate a bit about Namibia and our trip along with some photos. First, Namibia is so different from Botswana…..no litter!!!! And pride at keeping the country clean and neat; there is a sense of calm and order that was not present in Botswana…no taxis, no combis and buses, no cows, goats, donkeys roaming the roads…I was constantly amazed. For our circuit around the country starting in the capital, Windhoek, IMG_6951.jpegIMG_6943.jpegIMG_6941.jpegwe traveled 2,684 miles with our wonderful guide and driver, Stewart…originally from Zimbabwe but now married and living in Windhoek with his wife and two daughters. IMG_7192.jpeg.

Namibia is a feast for the eyes, with the magnificent Etosha National Park, the desert and the dunes and miles of beautiful countryside. We stayed in a variety of lodges and ate way too many wonderful meals! IMG_7040.jpegIMG_7185.jpegIMG_7115.jpegIMG_7083.jpegIMG_6965.jpegIMG_7027.jpegIMG_7386.jpeg

As always, wildlife citings continued to amaze me and African animals are just fascinating. c716e220-e64d-11ee-9825-73c4999aaf66.jpegIMG_7122.jpegc70778d0-e64d-11ee-a9c1-6f7276809d56.jpegIMG_7011.jpegIMG_7109.jpegIMG_6975.jpegIMG_6983.jpegIMG_7091.jpegIMG_6986.jpegIMG_7094.jpeg

We had cultural contact with the San…originally called Bushmen….hunter gatherers who are our ancestors. Unfortunately they have been forced out of their natural habitat and are few in numbers; our visit with them in the living museum concept was educational and warm. They are to be admired for finding a way to survive although life is very constrained now. IMG_7048.jpegIMG_7051.jpegIMG_7076.jpegIMG_7057.jpegIMG_7060.jpeg

We also visited in a Himba family compound; this tribe lives in northern Namibia and remains in traditional family groups where polygamy is practiced; they keep goats and small crops of maize; read about them. IMG_7136.jpegIMG_7159.jpegIMG_7161.jpeg

The other cultural group we encountered were the Herrero tribe who were murdered in large numbers by the Germans in the early 1900’s; they adopted the traditional dress of some of the German settlers and make crafts to honor this heritage. Again, I’m saying so little about them; it’s worth a Google search. IMG_7211.jpeg

The feast for the eyes included a morning in the desert outside of the town of Swakopmund…what an amazing place full of marvelous small life. IMG_7244.jpegIMG_7254.jpegIMG_7273.jpegIMG_7227.jpegIMG_7262.jpegIMG_7259.jpeg

Here’s the world’s largest meteorite IMG_7016.jpeg and a couple of photos from Sesreim Canyon IMG_7328.jpegIMG_7340.jpeg and the magniicent national park of the famous Namibian dunes…we did not climb to the top! IMG_7356.jpegIMG_7358.jpegIMG_7373.jpeg

There was so much on this two week fantastic journey that I can’t possibly capture it all…you should just take a trip there!

I’m not quite sure how to finish this entry; you’ve read my reflections all along this journey. While there were many ups and downs, there was definitely personal growth that I’ll continue to realize I’m sure. It’s good to be back in the USA; I’m definitely American for better or worse at times! The world does watch us carefully and we have more influence than I think we know.

Now it’s time for me to refocus on my life here; connecting again with friends; carefully selecting ways to be engaged and contribute; enjoying all my community and this country has to offer; to always remember how important all of you have been to me on this journey.

With some nostalgia that I can’t quite name or understand, I’ll conclude this blog.

Cathy

Posted by cathyadventurer 00:07 Comments (4)

Aaah, tension releasing some

Political motives; heat of the week; treating myself; museum; goodbyes; time with Mary; SSI surprise

Saturday, February 10; 9:45am; cloudy and cooler after a light morning rain; temperature 85 but feels cooler; sitting on stoop

Wow, thus far today it’s not already too hot to sit outside since we had a nice morning rain…gentle, enough to settle the dust and water the plants a bit. With the cooler day the kittens are playing actively both in the yard and in my house. Mama is now bulging and stays completely to herself unless it’s time to eat. I’m making sure she has her own dish of food and she definitely still guards it! 😾. All this week it’s been very hot (100 degrees) to the extent that I’ve kept the house closed up and used the fan, took lots of cold showers and wore wet clothes😳….kinda stuffy in the house but mediated the heat some. Fortunately I have been able to be cool enough to sleep at night. I have not left the yard since I got home last Sunday night but will go out to lunch tomorrow and do a few errands. It’s been fine to be here…doing some work for the SD board; planning for the museum consultation; reading; chatting on What’s App; working a bit on my book; new embroidery project; programs on Apple TV and Netflix.

Monday I’ll go to SSI for my final time with the mentors; then I’ll go the the Serowe Hotel to meet my PCRV friend Juergen who is coming from Francistown for our two days of work with the Khama III Memorial Museum Board. We have worked well together to design a realistic consultation for them and are looking forward to working together. I’ve decided to treat myself as if I am an out of town consultant and will spend two nights at the hotel for food, convenience and air conditioning as it’s going to get hot again. Thursday, after dropping off my laundry, I’ll go to the DAC office to say goodbye to the group there and give them the goodbye cards I wrote. Additionally I’m giving my animal artwork to Pearl for her daughter. Whew….the busiest week I’ve had in many months 😊. Then it will be Friday and just a couple of more days before I leave on Monday to go to Gabarone.

I’m pondering this headline IMG_0027.pngand excerpts from the article. This is the first time I’ve seen such a direct reference to the political reason for having PC placement……not sure about my reaction but it’s stirring something. Clearly this political focus was , I’m certain, here in Botswana but not quite so blatantly stated. Curious about your thoughts if you want to share.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States will resume a long-suspended Peace Corps program in the North Pacific island of Palau as the Biden administration continues moves to counter growing Chinese influence in the region. The Peace Corps said Friday that it would start sending volunteers back to the island in 2025 following an agreement reached between the agency’s director and Palau’s president, whose country is one of the few in the world to have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The Peace Corps programs in Palau and in the Federated States of Micronesia began in 1966 but were shut down in 2014 after more than 4,400 volunteers had served there.

Since then, as China has made successful inroads in the Pacific, successive U.S. administrations have sought to improve relations with the island nations, including by opening or reopening several embassies and renegotiating cooperation agreements known as compacts of free association last year with Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

Palau is among the 12 countries that still recognize Taiwan’s statehood and do not have diplomatic relations with Beijing, which considers Taiwan to be part of Chinese territory. The U.S. has encouraged these countries to maintain formal ties with the self-governed island.

Well, time to continue into the day…..two weeks from now I’ll be flying out of Botswana back to Keith….who is now on a two week working trip….in Johannesburg. Wonder if the pilot will announce when we have left Botswana airspace if I ask 🤔.

To be continued…..

Sunday, February 18; 11am; temperature 89 and very windy so sitting inside with fan blowing.

Last week was the busiest I have had since my arrival in Serowe….something each day through Friday!!!! I’ll start with Monday-Wednesday. My SSI time got rescheduled to Friday morning so I went earlier to the hotel to wait for Juergen. He and I met with Gase Monday afternoon to review the plans for the two day board retreat and we then started pretty much on time (at least for Botswana) Tuesday. We had kept our expectations in check….tried really to have none in an appropriate way….and over the two days were more than pleased at the participation, willingness and resulting energy and enthusiasm by all members of the group. Gase was thrilled and called me a Godsend…yes, I teared up…in my outreach to her. Juergen and I worked well together and had fun! Here are photos from the two days. IMG_0033.jpegIMG_6841.jpegIMG_6830.jpegIMG_6828.jpegIMG_0032.jpegIMG_0030.jpeg

Thursday Mary and I left home early to focus on a number of errands and visits. After dropping the laundry and doing a short visit to the DAC to leave goodbye cards, we went to the police station to begin the process of transferring the SIM card for my WiFi router to her…..what a process…..we both had to complete affidavits of transfer and acceptance, have them certified by the police; on going back to the Mascom store, we were told we also needed certified copies of our ids so off to the copy store and then back across town to the police again….I must admit that Mary was far more patient than this American!!!! But we got it done.

While we were waiting for the laundry to be done, we visited with her mother who is somewhere in her 90s and also sat in on a kgotla meeting where a new water pipe was being dedicated. Her mother only speaks Setswana but her warmth and welcome were easily grasped. In the course of our conversations that day, Mary told me that her mother did not complete a birth certificate for her due to some fear of the government so when Mary needed to establish this, the year was determined by what main event occurred….in her case The Year the Elephants Came which seems to be 1966. IMG_6849.jpegIMG_6842.jpeg

While driving around the back roads of Serowe which Mary knows very well we passed by the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa and I managed a couple of stealth pictures…for some reason they don’t want photos taken but Mary covered for me…we are a dangerous pair🤣. The church is still used for Sunday services…Mary attended Sunday school there as a child. This is from their website:
A Story of Unity and Witness One Church in Five Countries

The United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) is a transnational, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic church denomination which is united across five southern African countries, namely Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Congregationalism arrived on African shores when the first missionary of the London Missionary Society, Johannes van der Kemp, landed at the Cape of Good Hope in 1799.

Since Van der Kemp’s arrival the different streams of Congregationalism that were established by British and North American missionaries operated separately until the 3rd October 1967, when a united Congregational church was formed. The union constituted the London Missionary Society, the Bantu Congregational Church and the Congregational Union of South Africa to form the UCCSA. At the heart of the establishment of Congregationalism globally and locally stands the theological and ecclesiological importance of the covenant. When therefore celebrating the historic union of the three strands of Congregationalism about 20 years later, the Rev Joseph Wing, first General Secretary of the UCCSA, observed:

On October 3, 1967 we went into a Durban church as three distinct denominational bodies and came out as One People, and despite stresses and strains, disagreement and some defections, we have remained One People ever since. IMG_6854.jpegIMG_6856.jpeg

I treated Mary to lunch at the Serowe Hotel where she had never been until she took me there last Monday. Truly without her that day I could have never accomplished all those leaving tasks and the time with her was so pleasant.

Friday at SSI was great! I had one hour with the mentors that morning and we spent the time with more personal sharing, chatting, saying our goodbyes and of course taking photos…more than I’m sharing here. I was asked to come back that afternoon (temperature now over 100) and it turns out they had a goodbye party for me….so unexpected. They had collected pula and purchased for me a traditional Botswana blanket, an autographed football shirt (soccer), and a bar of candy. I was truly surprised and touched. What a way to finish up with them and what keepsakes. The photo of me with the woman in pink is with Pearl, the new counterpart. eae930c0-ce3a-11ee-b732-b7b9bb33930e.jpegIMG_6881.jpegad686e36-111b-40fd-a3c9-aee378d8dd0d.jpegIMG_6859.jpeg

Saturday morning my expat neighbor Tom came over for tea, chats, and the handing over of my art supplies and a bunch of food items. In the afternoon, Nora, whom I’ve just recently gotten to know came over for a goodbye visit…I so regret we had a short time to get know each other. IMG_6893.jpeg

Today Mary and I did a walkthrough of the house and she is thrilled at all the items she is getting….is already wearing one of my dresses. She is giving one of my blankets to her mother from me….her American daughter. I completed this embroidery for her and although crudely executed, put it on a pillow which will be a surprise for her.IMG_6898.jpeg. There will be tears tomorrow morning…tears of sadness for leaving and tears of joy for knowing.
Brooks, her son, wrote this email to me:
Dear Cathy

Though brief a stay you've had with us,as the Teseletso Family we bid you farewell and wishing you the best of luck on your endeavors.We are very grateful for the chance to have gotten to know someone of your caliber and the time we shared,henceforth you will forever be burned into our hearts with your radiant smile and laughter and shall always have a place to stay in our memories plus you literally have a place to stay with us leaving the house as is😂

With bittersweet emotions, we say goodbye to you Mmapula, our RainMother
P.S.Lightning and family shall miss you.

So my hope of leaving here with lasting positive experiences has been fulfilled…time certainly not as I had hoped but rich in learning and experiences so not at all wasted. Saying goodbye has felt good and important and as I get into the car tomorrow morning around 8:30a to head to Gabarone, it will be a mixture of relief at completion and sweet sadness.

With that, I’m going to close this blog post…..there will be more communication…not too sure when.

Thank you for sharing my Serowe journey with me. I hope you feel as if you know this place and its people just a bit.

May we all be open to life as it unfolds,
Cathy

Posted by cathyadventurer 09:32 Comments (7)

Appreciation

Teaching affirmations; being ghosted; asked for input!; last cat food purchase; parting; creative embroidery; giving myself credit; museum success; fun party; lunch outings; PCRV evaluation

Wednesday, January 31….last day of the month 😄; 11:30am; cloudy, breezy day; current temperature 81; sitting on the stoop; just back from a drive around/errand/grocery shopping with Mary

Taking the theme of appreciation as a beginning to this blog. Despite the challenges of this past year, there is truly much to appreciate and bringing appreciation actively into our conversations/interactions with others is very important. This week at SSI, I taught the mentors the element in Motivational Interviewing of the use of affirmations. We talked about the tendency to focus on the negatives of others and ourselves and to neglect their strengths/positive traits/capabilities. They then did a simple exercise of writing down affirmations for each other; no one was asked to read what they received but all were smiling. One person said the affirmation was helpful to her because she kinda knew the strength being noted but had not really said it to herself….now she owns it! Another person noted the encouragement she received from her affirmation to continue to address an area of professional growth. They noted how they can use this in their work. A few wrote affirmations for me and I truly treasure them as they noted aspects of me that I feel proud of: an organized and clear teacher; have a good, big heart; good listener and learner; calm aura; welcoming; interested in how each person feels. We have all planted a seed of ourselves in each other.

Another aspect to be affirmed is a person’s ability to demonstrate accurate empathy and I experienced that value this week from another PCV who I am getting to know…thank goodness for what’s app! I was feeling quite down because it appears I have been ghosted by someone I considered a friend and a support….total silence via what’s app since last Wednesday. My PCV friend listened to and supported in me my confusion and hurt…suddenly the seeming loss did not feel so hard.

Appreciation also takes the form of genuine interest in another person. This morning my landlord’s son wanted to show me the metal gate he is building for the cattle post to protect the solar panels from the cows. 🐄. I was happy to share his pride in his work. Folks, we all could attend more the this, huh? It doesn’t take much to focus away from ourselves, look up and recognize another person and make a personal connection. That doesn’t mean we go around gushing out affirmations….it’s attending to the opportunity and then a gentle touch and go recognition. It puts a lightness in the steps of each of us. I know many of you practice this already.

This morning I had a call from my counterpart asking for input on how to increase the profile of DREAMS in the district. First time I have been asked for input like this and I thanked her and provided a suggestion. Likely I won’t get to assist as there has to be a proposal, a budget, an approval, the logistics of a meeting but perhaps the idea will be utilized and I’ll connect more with her about this. She was also receptive to my sharing several files that could be of value for organizational evaluation and engagement……just keep on offering until the end!

Mary took me to the grocery this morning and I purchased a supply of cat food for the critters…..close to 40 pounds…Mr. Purr is guarding the bags. IMG_6789.jpeg. I gave her an extra mosquito net…didn’t realize she doesn’t have one. We are engaged in our beginning separation/my leaving. I will miss her. When Mary drove me to the Lentswe Lodge last Saturday for the outing there, she got out of the car to meet Nora. Today she let me know that she had always wanted to visit there but thought the owners were rich…meaning they would be White people who would not accept her. Well, in the first place, these folks are not rich and Nora is so warm and friendly….she hugged Mary before she left. Now Mary wants to visit there with me before I leave. While I’ll not get to understand this more, this got me wondering just how the indigenous Motswana do feel about White folks…do they think true acceptance can occur. Lots to ponder.

Well of to others things, like my latest embroidery project…to be continued…..

Saturday, February 3; 9:30a; blue skies; light breeze; temperature 76; sitting on stoop

It’s pleasant to sit outside right now with the fan blowing on me and as the temperatures are predicted to rise again next week…back to the 90s…I’m enjoying this time. Mary is sitting under her shade tree on the phone…..she loves to talk on the phone 😊 and for sure I can’t eavesdrop since she speaks in very rapid Setswana.

Just to add a little to the appreciation theme. Friday I ventured out for a series of tasks. First I took a taxi to drop my sheets, towels, etc at the laundry and got to visit Morwadi, the owner; I so appreciate that I have gotten to know her and can share in her pride at being a successful female business owner. She gave a big smile when I commented on how pretty she looked wearing lipstick. Then I sat in a meeting with folks from other agencies where a community outreach event was being planned….it was mostly in Setswana but I could follow loosely and made a contribution when invited. It’s very interesting that my leaving is known but not really that much acknowledged but really, I’m just one more PCV passing through and I don’t think saying goodbye is the norm here.

At the bank, one more time I could appreciate and thank the woman at customer service who has been so helpful to me (remember the time the ATM machine took my card!!!!!); I let her know that I’m leaving just because that’s what I do. Bank transaction was completed (hardly any Pula left after needing to spend the 2000 p for transport so now operating on my personal credit card) and as I walked through the downtown Mail Mall, I reflected on how comfortable I am now in that space and in Serowe in general; how confusing/overwhelming it was in the beginning. I experienced a softness toward myself as I affirmed that I have fulfilled one goal of PCRV service….learning to live in another culture. All that seemed confusing and a challenge…..taxis, shopping, laundry, buying electricity, etc….now seems routine. Chats with taxi drivers remain a treat when they occur….yesterday we joked that we now ask Mr. Google if it’s going to rain and are disappointed when he is wrong! Of course there’s the connection I have with the staff at the Serowe Hotel who always greet me and ask after my well being. I’ve remained interested in knowing others and more accepting that not that much curiosity exists in others really knowing much about me or learning much about the US.

Thus far I have not been ill (🤞🏻); have done my morning home exercise routine; have maintained a healthy diet; have attended to connections with others here and in the US. Last week I again thanked the woman who helped me my first day here with shopping, unpacking, hanging curtains; told her how her kindness was so important; she seemed genuinely surprised and pleased.

While there doesn’t seem to be any specific expectation of a more formal goodbye at the DAC where I’m assigned, I will go by because that’s what I need to do. I’m sending messages to others whom I have met to let them know of my departure. Closure is important to me.

Today, I’m doing one more combi ride to Palapye to have lunch at Bonita’s Cafe with PCV Valeria and hopefully will get to chat a bit with the owner Claudia whom I met months ago….will take some photos of the garden in summer season. Sunday I’m having lunch at the Serowe with Yoshi, one of the Japanese volunteers.

Did a bit more sorting and packing this week so wrapping up in happening in all areas!

Will complete this entry later…..

Monday, February 5; 11:20am; 92 degrees 🥵 but tolerable with the fan blowing; sitting on the stoop

Well folks, this time in two weeks, I’ll be close to arrival in Gabarone to begin the processing out. Sent Keith my flight information this morning for pick up on February 24. Interesting that just as it’s ending, there is more activity in my life which I’ll relate. I just competed the survey from the Peace Corps and my evaluation was not flattering at all; I tried to provide complete answers that were relevant and I hope valuable (just the chance to express myself was cathartic). The final question was how likely I am to recommend the PC to others and I selected not very.

But back to the weekend…what a social whirl for me! Here’s a photo of me with Valeria at lunch. IMG_6794.jpeg. While we had a good chat, I got caught in comparison in mind as I learned of the efforts she is making to be busier in her final months as a 2 year….questioning whether I had done enough. Fortunately another PCV helped me with perspective and I can now honestly say that I didn’t want to seek out other activities just for the sake of busyness.

One of my efforts independentIMG_6816.jpeg of my main assignments looks like it is coming to fruition: the curator at the museum has sold her board chair on the importance of a board development retreat and next week, my PCRV colleague Juergen will come to Serowe and we’ll offer two half days of board work. I’m very pleased at this outcome and I’ll leave feeling as if I did find something that felt of value, nurtured the connection and am able to deliver.

Sunday turned out to be a busy day. I had lunch with Yoshi and it was a delightful couple of hours; at age 27, he’s looking at his future and what he wants for himself. He won’t stay here in his assignment if he can get into graduate school in the UK or Australia as his work here in not busy or satisfying. IMG_6800.jpeg

Later that afternoon I went to a ‘sundowner’ gathering at the home of Tony, a Brit who has lived here for over 30 years. It was his birthday so he invited a group of us (Dutch volunteers; Austrian volunteer; two Catholic nuns/sisters; PCV Nick; and Tom, the expat neighbor of mine) to his home. We played a hilarious game that involved launching a plastic bottle into the air, judging the distance for each team, points for catching the bottle, rewards of Pula. It was hilarious and fun…the nuns turn out to be very competitive 🤣. Here’s the contraption used for launching. I won 16 pula. IMG_6806.jpeg Then we went upstairs for drinks, snacks and watching the sunset before leaving there for a pizza gathering at the Lentswe Lodge….home at 11pm!!!!! Such much fun and laughter. IMG_6810.jpegIMG_6808.jpeg
The sisters baked a fruit cake and discreetly used 7 candles to symbolize the 70years of his life; they choose candles that relit when one tries to blow them out….hilarious…they are both a real hoot! IMG_6811.jpeg
Tony is full of jokes and can actually tell them with skill, delivery and recall the punch line…..we were in stitches. He’s full of entertaining stories. Most fun I’ve had here and actually in a long time!

I’ve’ asked which day next week….Thursday or Friday that I can stop at the DAC to say goodbye….did not want to wait for them as it might not occur.

Mary decided to work on an area in the yard…making a heart with the bricks; of course the cats immediately jumped in and used the spot as a kitty bathroom! She plans to put more flowering plants there. Hmmm, not sure where the photo is..look for it.

I’ve still been doing my embroidery free form project and here’s where it is now…it might be complete but I’ll decide later….Keith said it looked like ants without GPS!!! I love that! I might call it Random Intention. It’s been fun to allow it to evolve. IMG_6814.jpeg

That’s it for this entry…
Words of wisdom…….don’t belittle yourself….take responsibility but finds ways to appreciate what you bring to life, no matter how large or small.

Time to make lunch; next week there will be another entry from the world of Serowe. 😀 and then after that……….off to the brights lights and big city of Gaborone.

Go well,
Cathy

Posted by cathyadventurer 09:19 Comments (6)

Finishing Line Challenges

Embroidery project; emotional exhaustion; museum consultation; Namibia watch!

Wednesday, January 24; 12:30p; lots of puffy white clouds but no rain; temperature 82 with a nice cooling breeze; sitting on the stoop; cats asleep somewhere

Well, here I am in the middle of the week; today I’m pleased that I don’t have to go anywhere as I’m a bit tired from disrupted sleep that is the result of the amount of emotional energy I spent yesterday dealing with end of service issues with the Peace Corps. Monday I received a phone call from PC medical giving me a date to come for my medical clearance exams a week before I expected; it meant I had to take the bus there and back one more time and I was very upset. With the encouragement of a support PCV, I called the medical officer and managed to get the dates back to the final week of my time, when I do all the other clearances. Then yesterday I received a call from my PC field contact who was checking in and also calling about my transportation back to Gabarone for end of service. Well, I was in a place where my frustration with this whole experience was ripe and I was very upfront with her…she had read the report already I assume…about how difficult and non productive this has been; how taxing it is to deal with the last few weeks of more inactivity…..blah, blah, blah. To her credit she did seem to admit that placing me as they had was an experiment that will not be repeated…..so nice to have been the guinea pig 😵‍💫. Then she began to discuss my transportation back to Gabarone and presented one of the options as taking the bus. Well then I really got upset and without all the gory details, entered into an email exchange where I refused to take the bus and outlined all the reasons why not. The outcome as of now is that I’ll use a private car as I did when I went on holiday in December…same driver….and the PC will reimburse me. I do admit I expended more emotional energy that was wise but it also felt like being forceful was the only option….and I recognize the pattern I have when I feel trapped, not heard…..lessons! 😳. Now I’m waiting the actual dates to go to Gabarone/where I’ll stay and trust that it will all work out….they do have to let me out of this country!

But yesterday was not a total focus on the PC stuff as I visited Gase at the museum and chatted about her board as she desired. The outcome was her becoming enthusiastic about having the board develop a strategic plan; she told me our conversation left her reenergized. It’s truly a challenge in many ways, not the least of which is not getting the allocation for staff salaries for December. Today I related this info to another PCRV who is placed in economic development and he has offered to come at his own expense from Francistown and do a two day consultation with the board. Related this to Gase and she is thrilled, will present this to her board chair Monday and hopefully be able to take advantage of this before the volunteer leaves when I do. So I continue to remind myself that I cultivated this relationship on my own, didn’t need to and it has been very rewarding and her gratitude is heartwarming.

Outside of that, Monday I completed an embroidery project…did the painting first and then decided on stitching to use…feel pretty good about it. IMG_6762.jpeg Now I need to create the next project.

Here’s a photo of Mary from when she got all dressed up Monday, wearing earrings I bought her. She’s a very attractive woman when she puts on her good clothes and fancy matching shoes. She’s very proud of the photos. IMG_6753.jpeg

Today, I’ve done some board work, will read and nap. Keith shared this webcam site for a live feed of a watering hole in the desert in Namibia….I find it very soothing to watch and just now saw a herd of gemsbok like you saw in his painting. f4a802b3-6814-4645-8ef0-39579a651158.jpeg

My effort now is to bolster my good outlook for these final weeks and to not leave with such bitterness about the PC….that might be hard.

Okay, time to look at that webcam again, read and take that nap…dinner already partially cooked.

Sunday, January 28; 10:15am; 83 degrees; overcast and slight breeze; fan blowing on me as I sit on the stoop; drinking rooibus tea

I’m trying to balance focusing on the end of the time here with being present in the moment I am in but just to note that after today, there are just three more weeks in Serowe 👏☺️. Update on plans for the final week of processing: I’ll be driven to Gabarone by the same person as in December on Monday, February 19 to begin my medical and administrative processing out; know where I am staying via the PC for 4 nights and then the final night is at my expense so I have a reservation at the Protea where I stayed in December/January….air conditioning; nice pool; good breakfast; excellent cappuccino; transport to the airport…now it’s all real and I can be more settled with the final tasks I need to do here like withdrawing money from my Botswana bank account, getting some laundry done, etc….then it’s on that plane Saturday February 24….up, up and away ✈️.

Yesterday, Saturday, was a big social day for me….yes!!! I invited Tom, the expat neighbor I have mentioned before, for morning tea and he and his landlady, Joyce accepted. Mary, my landlady joined us for part of the time and helped me with the proper social protocol of offering Joyce water for handwashing…a lovely gesture and one I didn’t know to offer. IMG_6771.jpeg. The conversation was rich. Joyce, who got all dressed up as you will see, is a native of Serowe and a retired school teacher and principal. I quite enjoyed hearing her perspective on the requirement that teachers move around the country every few years (I’ve mentioned this before) in order for factions among tribal identities to be tempered…that was the original intent but now there is much mixing of tribal via marriage. She feels the policy is a good one. Since she is 71, she was a young person when the country went through the dramatic changes when cooper and diamonds were discovered and the decision was made to have the government control the resources and use the benefits for the people. Her respect for Sir Seretse Khama is quite strong but she does feel that Serowe does not benefit with its with allegiance to his son, Ian. We toured Mary’s yard with all her trees, bushes, propagation. It was a fine two hours. IMG_6768.jpegIMG_6767.jpegIMG_6769.jpeg

Then in the afternoon I went to the Lentswe Lodge for a pool/dinner gathering at the invitation of Nora and her husband. The two volunteers from the Netherlands were there along with Naoki from Japan, their sons and their friends. A big surprise was the appearance of Reinhold, a German who is spending many years touring Southern Africa and whom Keith and I had met when we camped on Kubu Island in August! Reminder to always be on your best behavior because you think you will pass through life and not see the people you meet again….but no!!!! IMG_6777.jpegWhat a lovely gathering; lots of good conversation about the dangers of outsiders deciding what is best for people in a country/setting without involvement of them; sharing stories; laughter; a refreshing pool; and a great dinner. I got home at 11pm 😳. I do regret that I haven’t had more of these chances to get to know Nora and Adair but Nora assures me that we will socialize more before I leave. IMG_6775.jpegIMG_6772.jpegIMG_6773.jpeg. There is also a resident civet…..very tiny…pops its head out of a hole close to the outdoor kitchen area and will shows its full self; here’s a photo from the internet of what a civet looks like, not in the cat family but more related to the weasel and mongoose…the one at the lodge is so cute! IMG_0025.jpeg

Here are some reflections gathered from today’s Marginalian:
we were never promised any of this; that it is hubris and self-importance and almost touching delusion to expect an indifferent cosmos to bend to our will, our wishes, and our plans; that meeting the universe on its own terms is the end of suffering.

YES
by William Stafford

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out — no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

So as all of your are aware of from my writings, there were no guarantees here; I had many bouts of delusion expecting the indifferent cosmos to bend to my will; I have made some progress along the path of at least not constantly perpetuating my suffering. The above poem suggests a better way.

I anticipate that Monday will come; I’ll drink my tea while watching the cats eat breakfast….Mama cat growling as usual…I’ll embrace whatever is in store for that day and each day as it comes not only in my journey here but in all the days that will continue to unfold for as many as I am given.

Wishing you the ability to attend to the bonuses of which there are many if we just say “yes”.

I remain in gratitude that you read and are out there in my life,
Cathy

Posted by cathyadventurer 08:51 Comments (4)

Week Five

Greeted in neighborhood; SSI time; fan (duh)!; Clowder of cats; adoption…and then there were 2; solitude; PC feedback and progress; new greens; renewed spirit

Monday; January 15; 6pm; 84 degrees; whispy white clouds; sitting on stoop with fan blowing

As I begin the entries for this week, I want to thank those of you who provided such reinforcing comments (as you have all along) to my last blog along with encouragement for me to continue once back home in the US….I’ll give this some thought…don’t want to wear out the value and will check in with some of you about what might be useful.

First, let me say that I must truly be a slow study as it has taken me all these months with hot weather to realize that I could move my fan out to the porch to get a cooler breeze and blow the mosquitoes and flies away 🤪. Well at least I did figure it out and it’s helping a lot….well nothing seems to discourage the flies. Today Mary and I added dish soap to all the places with standing water….lots of them….as I read on the internet that this will kill the mosquitos and larvae…..promise, a study conducted at Norte Dame says so….I’ll let you know and at least it’s cheap and not a toxin.

As I walked to SSI this morning, an elderly woman (look at me, Ms Elderly, using that term about someone likely younger than I), greeted me by my Motswana name, Mmapula…how lovely!😊. Even though I had only 7 mentors this morning as others were at work assignments, we had a good two hours together….spending the first hour sharing about our holiday time. Then we continued with the Motivational Interviewing content I’m teaching and once again had a great discussion. I’m still clarifying how many more times I will get to see them but what a great way to begin the week.

I managed to get a photo of the brown veined white butterfly IMG_6722.jpeg and these trees have blossomed at a yard close by….don’t know the names IMG_6723

IMG_6723

IMG_6724.jpeg. I was greeted by this kitten lounging in the heat when I got home. IMG_6725.jpeg

Speaking of cats, did you know that a group of cats is called a Clowder? This word is a Middle English term originating in the 1700s from the word clodder, meaning clotted mass. I started thinking about this today as I watched the 3 kittens and 2 adolescents walking in a group in the yard…kinda like watching a pride of lions, same kind of loose swagger. As I’ve mentioned before, this is the first time I’ve been able to observe kittens since birth. Now that Mama is pregnant again, she is very separate, staying back when the food is out and then growling as she eats and clearly making growling noises, popping with her paw at the kittens. The three young ones now hang out a lot with Lightning, the male that I thought was a female and it’s quite sweet to watch them cuddle and rub up against him. Lots of playing and chasing occurs in the yard…..such great entertainment!

Tomorrow I’m meeting Abaleng, the gender officer I have mentioned, to hear about her trip to the US. Since it’s an afternoon meeting, I will likely go to the hotel late morning for coffee, some work on my embroidery and then lunch before going to her office. It will be fun to hear what she loved so much about the US as she was clearly happy to be there.

So the week is taking shape; time for some dinner before a call with my meditation teacher at 8p.

Later, y’all.

Thursday, January 18; 11am; rainy and chilly 😀; 76 degrees; sitting inside because of inclement weather; drinking Rooibus tea

Before I add more to the events of the week, here are some thoughts from Stephen Batchelor, Buddhist teacher, on solitude that I think connect well to the way to approach cool boredom. In more moments than I have realized, I have been able to embrace solitude during this experience.

“True solitude is a way of being that needs to be cultivated. You cannot switch it on or off at will. Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it. When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul. Don’t expect anything to happen. Just wait. This waiting is a deep acceptance of the moment as such. Nietzsche called it amor fati — unquestioning love of whatever has fated you to be here. You reach a point where you’re just sitting there, asking, “What is this?” — but with no interest in an answer. The longing for an answer compromises the potency of the question. Can you be satisfied to rest in this puzzlement, this perplexity, in a deeply focused and embodied way? Just waiting without any expectations?

Ask “What is this?,” then open yourself completely to what you “hear” in the silence that follows. Be open to this question in the same way as you would listen to a piece of music. Pay total attention to the polyphony of the birds and wind outside, the occasional plane that flies overhead, the patter of rain on a window. Listen carefully, and notice how listening is not just an opening of the mind but an opening of the heart, a vital concern or care for the world, the source of what we call compassion or love.”

Mary is here visiting; came to check on my as she hadn’t seen me earlier, saying ‘when someone is old, you have to make sure they are okay’ 😵‍💫 I do appreciate her care. She now brings me mangoes from her tree; they are small but delicious IMG_6726.jpeg. We are definitely going to miss each other.

Still trying to schedule to meet with the gender officer and museum curator….sent messages via What’s App and waiting. I was joking with a fellow volunteer that he could put patiently waiting as a skill on his resume now!

Big news in the kitten world…one was adopted…the one whose picture lounging at my doorstep you see in this blog. A family member of my landlord wanted a kitten and I was able to nab this one by luring it into the bathroom with food. He was so scared but the children of the family are very excited and I hope he will have a good home. We still have hopes to catch the other two kittens for transport to the cattle post. IMG_0020.jpegIMG_6748.jpeg

Mary pointed out the leaves of two plants: a sweet potatoes she planted and a volunteer butternut squash from the seeds I put in the compost pile…noting that they are edible, like spinach so I picked some. Raw they are very tasty, a tiny bit of a bitter bite, and were very nice to add to the seafood mixture I did last night. I plan to pick more today for my dal. IMG_6729.jpegIMG_6730.jpeg

I completed my first embroidery project and feel pretty pleased….french knots are fun but all of them are not created equally in my work! Plan to work with how to fill in plant leaves next. IMG_6728.jpeg

Now for the Peace Corps. I have received the deposit for my airline travel…yeah! Yesterday I spent a significant amount of time completing my site report….information about my placement. I was very honest, blunt really, not hostile but also not holding back on the disappointment and frustrations I have experienced in this last year. There was no direct question about my experience but I still added a very large section on this…noting the work I’ve done to deal with loneliness, boredom, self doubt, etc…all the things you have read about. The report goes to my PC supervisor and the acting country director/training director. I have no idea if they will really relate to what I said in any way and have no illusions that it will make any difference but it felt good to get it out. Now I just want the transport back to Gabarone to be arranged.

Pearl, the DREAMS Ambassador/my counterpart, sent me a message saying that we should get together for some quality time the week before I leave…..so in essence, saying we’re done with any official work. At some point, I’ll go by the office to say goodbye to some other folks but really, how anticlimactic!

Have lunch plans Sunday with other volunteers; would travel more around the country but don’t want to deal with long bus rides anymore so I’ll be just fine here…now less than 5 weeks!!!!!!!!!!!

Hopefully can get out to the hotel tomorrow for cappuccino and lunch.

Let’s see what I can find for lunch……can I time travel to the LOOP for a burger?🍔

Go siame,
Cathy

Monday January 22; 10am; 81 degrees; fan blowing as I sit on the stoop

Well folks, I officially declare week five completed and now it’s the beginning of week FOUR 👏😊 of the countdown. To finish up from the last post, I did go to the Serowe Hotel Friday and spent several hours there, working on my embroidery which was of interest to some of the staff, drinking cappuccino and having lunch. Stopped by the Spar (local grocery) and noticed once again how the variety and quality of produce is going down due to the decision by the government to cut off imports from primarily South Africa…..still get can’t get my head around that decision but I do know that it was all about politics and influence. Saturday I went to the orphanage for a couple of hours….was good to connect with Nick after his month long vacation in the Chicago area. Kids were kinda distracted and my brain and tongue were twisted after I read a Dr. Seuss book 😵‍💫. Big event was the slaughter of a goat….I didn’t see it occur or watch the processing but here it the outcome. IMG_6740.jpeg

Sunday’s gathering of 7 of us for lunch at the hotel was so invigorating: two from the Netherlands; one from Austria, one from Japan, and three PC folk. We sat and chatted for several hours; I took a bag of random food items that I will not need before I leave (cumin seeds, chili powder, oatmeal, etc) and did a presentation of each item to give away…all except three things were taken and it was fun to watch folks deliberate and then take! As I did the fun presentation, I became even more in touch with the renewed self I’m experiencing now that the time to leave is close….my humor, my lightness, my creativity…..truly grateful that I’m still intact in these areas!

Mary continues to work in her lovely container garden area and her plants are flourishing. I particularly like this blossoming succulent and the impatience. The rain did wonders for the flowering plants. IMG_6741.jpegIMG_6742.jpeg

Tomorrow I’m visiting with Gase, the museum curator; still waiting to see the gender officer. Have two Southern Dharma committee meetings, a session with my PC coach; an embroidery project underway; reading Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles who writes about the Civil War period…..she wrote News of the World…..may have mentioned this before. Completed the Netflix series, Traitors, British spy show, post WWII, focused on the fear of communism and the negotiation of the two country solution for Palestine/Israel….well we know how that is still so problematic and tragic for the lives of so many.

I’ve mentioned Keith’s talent as a painter before so want you to see what he has just completed…two gemsbok fighting…we should see lots of them in Namibia. large_42dd26fe-0d0e-4ad1-b82e-c091359246b7.jpeg. Yep, it is for sale!!!!

Well, now to enter into the remainder of the day and start of the week.

Go well everyone and I’ll be back soon!!!!!!!

Cathy

Posted by cathyadventurer 08:34 Comments (5)

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