Greetings all! I hope you spent your Thanksgivings warm, well-fed and in the presence of loved ones. I assure you that my Thanksgiving was definitely warm, I was more than sufficiently stuffed and enjoyed every minute with my new Peace Corps family. I also brought in year 24 and felt an overwhelming amount of love from you all back home. I can't thank you enough for always making me feel special and never letting me feel forgotten. I am hopeful that this year will be my best one yet, full of learning, traveling, meeting new people, fostering relationships and helping my community. Oh, and lots and lots more laughter.
In lieu of a heavy blog post about the challenges I am facing here (boring) I thought with school being shut down for the next 5 weeks now is as good a time as ever for a more light-hearted post. So, below, find a list of all the random things that have surprised me since moving to Africa. I'm four months in and it still hasn't subsided.
1. Since day one, I have been drinking tap water wherever I go. I definitely thought I would be filtering my water and steering clear of the tap, but I drink 5 liters of liquid goodness a day (at least) and have yet to face any problems.
2. MOST women here wear sky high heels every day and walk through sand and thorns like it's nothing. They often ask me why I don't wear heels and I tell them that that's a scene I'm not willing to share. They then ask me if my family can ship my high heels for them since I am not using them.
3. I don't see giraffes, lions, zebras and monkeys in my every day life. I have seen one giraffe, a handful of rhinos and a herd of zebra since arriving in country, but most of the wildlife is concentrated up north and I live in the southern region. What I do see every day, however, are more cattle, donkey, chickens and goats than I can count. Simba (my puppy, for those of you who somehow haven't heard me obsess over him yet) plays with donkeys and goats like they are other puppies. I have also had scorpions, lizards, camel spiders, millipedes, and every other insect co-habitating with me.
4. It is completely acceptable to pick your nose here. Mid-conversation, during a presentation, while teaching a class. No shame at all.
5. Being white attracts a lot of attention here. In my village of 5,000 I am the only white person living there. This strikes up conversation everywhere I go. Sometimes, a 5 minute walk takes an hour because everyone wants to say hello. Most days, it's nice to have people to talk to. Somedays, its frustrating when you have to plan to leave an hour in advance in preparation. Anyway, when people ask me where I'm from and I say America. They automatically assume a lot of things, but one of those things is that I know every famous person from American pop culture. "Oh, I love Lil Wayne, can you give me his number?" "What's Beyonce like?" Or, even more simply, "I once knew a John from Boston, do you know him?"
6. For children under the age of 5, my name is only "Lekoa", meaning white person. They shout it outside my gate waiting for me to come out and play. No matter how many times I tell them my real name, it just won't stick.
8. When it comes to giving directions, the most detail I ever get is a vague hand gesture followed by "it's that side" That side is a term that can mean the other side of this building here or it can mean the other side of the world, like America. Usually, when going somewhere I am unfamiliar with, I stop about every five feet to make sure I am still heading the right direction.
I hope this list is somewhat interesting and I am sure it is a list that will continue to evolve as this adventure unfolds. Always feel free to ask me any questions you have about my life here and please keep me updated on your lives back home!
All my love, as always.