Tuesday, April 29, 2008

April 26, 2008

We learned that another volunteer in our group had decided to go home today, dropping our numbers to 57. Since we began, 4 volunteers have left us. Today’s news hit us harder because so much bonding has taken place and, understandably, there is a sense of community and perseverance between the group.

Fortunately, we were distracted from this news with a day off from training and language lessons. My three neighboring volunteers and I met for a walk to the Internet café which lasted three hours and was wholly unsuccessful. Although we didn’t find the Internet (thus another backdated entry) we did manage to get a bit of exercise, community exposure and navigation capacity. We learned that “restaurant” in Botswana means “bar” (which we have been strongly discouraged from entering as the country is very conservative and we don’t want to “give the wrong impression”). We also learned that store hours are random and Internet “cafés” involve two monitors set up inside small trailers along the main road.

Sometime at the beginning of the walk a street child began to follow us. Her body was a wisp of bone and her eyes where filled with conjunctivitis. The child was barefoot and spoke no English. Even so, for three hours she followed us. Along the way we bought her some ice cream and water. She never spoke a word to us but smiled and waved wildly when she left at the end of our trip.

When we returned to the village we learned that a wedding ceremony was being held at the kgotla. We ran to change our clothes but were told, to our surprise, that our dirty walking clothes were perfectly suitable for a Botswana wedding.

By the time my host sister and I arrived, the ceremony had finished and the wedding party was dancing down the aisle in a beautifully choreographed dance. For hours we watched the wedding party dance while hundreds of villagers were fed at a buffet of chicken, rice, salad, squash and a very strong drink made completely of ginger. Three times the bride changed her clothes and the wedding party changed twice to match her. Each wardrobe change was introduced with another dance and many villagers congregated behind the wedding party, joining in with their own dances and singing.

When the sun began to set a stern neighbor told my host sister to take me home. We reluctantly obeyed her (per Peace Corps policy that all volunteers be at home by sundown). On the way back Indil linked my arm without looking at me. We walked like that through the dry desert grass, waving to neighbors, and watching the sky turn purple.

No comments: