I think for the first time I feel like I am a peace corps volunteer, which is ironic because only on Thursday I became an official PCV, before that I was only a trainee. The swearing ceremony was a long awaited event. Here in Botswana, it is not difficult to make the news, considering their small population (1.8 mil) and their relatively stable domestic affairs. Our ceremony was covered by the local news BTV. Today, in Nata, some people told me they saw me on the TV. But I am skeptical, I think it may be easy to mistake one lakoa (foreigner) for the other. But perhaps I was. They asked me to sing a setswana spiritual. It was more like lead… so I lead the whole audience in a spiritual. The words are Modimo o refilwe, sebakanyana se o motsosoya. It means God has given us this moment, even this very minute (Post Script, I actually was featured on TV singing this very song, making my first day of work interesting). As it turns out the female volunteer in Nata two years before was named Neo (my setswana name), so I changed it to Refilwe, which, if you look back one sentence is from that song that I love, which mean ‘to be given.’ Pretentious? A beautiful song. I have been singing it during training for the past two months (if you can believe it, people here know think I have a song for everything). As the Batswana audience broke into their harmony I tried to add my own gospel variation, but looking at the video I see that, alas, I am still a lekoa, despite how hard I try to be a Motswana. The ceremony was nice, with the Ambassador, the Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Health, The National Aids Coordinator, and the PC Country Director. After we repeated our Oath of Service they gave us pins with Botswana and US flag- totally cute and also a nice piece of memorabilia to remember that one time I ran away from everything and joined the Peace Corps.
After the ceremony, I took a lot of pictures and then said my goodbyes. I went out to lunch with a member from the church in Moleps. She took me to KFC! Finger lickin’ good- as they say. Botswana has a lot
of fried chicken chains. The one next to the training center was called Western Fried Chicken, and then there’s Lickin’ Chicken’, Nando’s Chicken, Southern Fried Chicken and of course KFC. I never thought I really liked coleslaw but mayonnaise is a must here, carrots and mayo, rice and mayo, potatoes and mayo… bring it out. If you can’t beat um, join um… except for the sour porridge (bogobe or sorghum meal) I won’t, I can’t. It is like a sticky substance that seems a bit like porridge but it has been fermented and might have sour milk. I now I didn’t paint a very nice picture and let it be known that I could probably like it if I tried harder, but I don’t, not in that area
Then I went home and my family made pink scones which essentially taste like muffins- they made them for my trip. Nice family, right?
The next day a government vehicle picked me and another volunteer to take us to our sites. I got to Nata at around 6 that evening. Well to settle in I turned on some music and made a delicious cup of tea (thank Kali for showing me that beautiful website www.mountainroseherbs.com– the hibiscus high is fantastic) and turned on some Phoenix to drown out my creeping sense of aloneness. But after a nervous thirty minutes of trying to feeling liberated I switched the music to The Weepies and tried to accept my fate. I know that my two years here will be great and will be what I make it. But I accept that fact of the emotional roller coaster, that at first I will feel lonely and then it will be the small triumphs that get me through, being able to form a sentence, being able to express my needs and my feelings. Then the failed projects or sense of isolation- it is all part of the package that I gladly accepted. It now is more real then it was before.