Friday, July 25, 2008

hotards in south africa: limpopo

After spending the night in Durban, Katie, Teresa and I sadly parted ways with mom – she was staying on in Durban and meeting up with the ACTS ladies and we were heading up to Joburg then Limpopo to experience village life. We managed to survive the excessively early morning, made our flight in plenty of time, did a bit of shopping once we got to Joburg and then had dinner (and stayed with) Leigh and his family. We left the next morning for Turkey village with a stuffed to the brim car and an extra Tanya and Sofia. The drive was fun but longer than I anticipated and we made it the village after dark. The girls were good sports though and they didn’t mind having their first pit toilet experience with the stars shining overhead. Luckily that was not the night we met our rat friend.

The first few days in the village we worked hard and painted a world map mural at one of the drop-in centres. I had to do a bit of work but managed to delegate (thanks Nick!) some of it so I could enjoy the time with my sisters. Amazingly, we finished the map in 2 ½ days – we definitely wouldn’t have finished if Nick hadn’t helped us paint all the water. You don’t realize how much 80% of water is until you paint it! Megan helped us out too and we were able to finish (second coats even) the painting of the countries on the last day. To involve the kids at the centres, we had them put their hand prints all around as a border for it – they loved it and instead of wasting paint, we finished off the left over paint by putting our handprints all over the water tanks. It was fun and the kids really seemed to enjoy it!
During the evenings we visited my friends around the village before heading home to cook dinner. They met Rosen and his family and we were invited to watch a DVD of old Celine Dion music. At Nathacia’s house we were treated to fresh from the oven biscuits and cold drink before they got their hair braided by some of the girls. Most of the time we cooked yummy dinners except for one night – I had no desire to endure another night of prep work, cooking and clean up so we stuffed ourselves on gummy hamburgers/hot dogs, mentos, nutella and pretzels and who knows what else. This was also the night when we had to wash our hair. We took turns washing each others hair, then we each bathed and in the end, the entire process took two hours. There wouldn’t have been enough time to cook dinner anyway…

I had been planning to have a party with a bunch of my friends in the village for awhile so I thought the perfect time was while my sisters were around. On the last day I made a grocery run with Susan and then I came back and made sure that the girls were up. Then Katie, Teresa, Susan and I ventured out to buy 6 chickens for the party. We bought them, carried them home and then proceeded to cut their heads off with a dull knife. PETA would have a hissy if they were around but that’s the way it’s done here. Ok, we were probably a bit slower than the professionals and my first clue was when Setlau said to Katie in a desperate voice – “SPEED”! We each had our turn and then helped prepare the rest of the meal. Teresa helped Annah with cutting up the chickens and cleaning them, Katie helped Susan chop vegetables and I managed to look busy although I don’t recall actually doing much but taking pictures!

2 o’clock rolled around and I started getting nervous because we had a lot of food and no one was showing up. But it’s Africa and people started showing up around 3:30. Rosen brought over his sound system so we had music playing and were dancing to Sarafina and Mangogroove before the big meal. We had to eat before dark so we soon chowed down on the delicious meal of pap, fried chicken, boiled cabbage (which is REALLY good – either that or I’ve been eating traditional food too long) and soup stew thing that you eat with the pap. It was delicious and all the party goers managed to leave no scraps but plenty of dirty dishes. Annah insisted that they would clean them the next day which was really sweet considering the girls and I were peacing out then to head back to Joburg.

We adequately fulfilled one of the Peace Corps goals by introducing to the party a piñata. Mom had sent it the year before but I didn’t get to use it for the intended use (a Cinco de Mayo party) so I thought this was a perfect occasion. Katie and Teresa had filled it with tons of candy they brought from home – jolly ranchers, gummy hamburgers and starbursts. After explaining to everyone what we do, Matome shyly was cajoled into giving Winnie the Pooh (it was exactly a traditional piñata) a whack with the stick. A few pieces of candy flew out and then Madala stepped up to bat. His whack sent the thing flying and the candy spilled out which, of course, caused a mad chaotic dash for the candy. Kids of all ages including a woman with a baby strapped to her back and the new manager for Phedišang, Charity, were among the horde. They were completely perplexed by this custom from America but enjoyed it none-the-less.

We continued the party and danced to traditional music till it was well past dark. Everyone was out there, even my shy host mother, Annah, all the other mothers, Nick, and the girls. Teresa was hit on by Sydney and he even gave her his phone number before he had to leave for the evening. We had some birthday cake that Elayna had made – oh yea, this was partially to celebrate my birthday which was coming up in a few days. Soon people had to leave and I drove the PCV’s home as promised and then I came back to settle in for the night with Katie and Teresa. They had such a good time and loved every aspect of the day – cooking and the prep work, playing with the kids, dancing, the piñata, the pictures, all of it. I had to agree – it was a great day and I was happy to share the day with my sisters.

Sadly we had to leave on Friday but we did make a side trip to see Jessica the Hippo. Katie, Teresa and Nick were fascinated by her and fell instantly in love. Our visit was quick so we could make the 5 hour drive, with a lunch stop, and get to Johannesburg before dark. A fun ending to a fantastic week!


Dr. White said...

Hi Christy
Love your map--what school/town is in in?
My name is Barbara Jo White (Dominican Republic'87-'89) and way back (before I became a college prof), I started/created the World Map Project. It's 20 years old now and great to see you all making such beautiful maps--love the handprints! I would love to put your pics up on the World Map Project site--I would also love to have more pics of maps in South Africato put up on the World Map Project website ( The free map making manual is there and lots of pics from maps around the world.I'm getting ready to update the gridded world map pages and publish the instructions (and map pages) in spanish. Please email me or send pics to or you can follow me and the project on Twitter @WorldMapProject

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!