Are we having fun yet?

In response to a recent post, a friend asked if we are having FUN yet. We were going to answer then decided it might make a good blog post. Yes, it’s been a while- we’ve been at Peace Corps training for 3 weeks which we can’t really say was much fun. The AC, swimming pool and 3 buffet meals per day were all very nice- we do admit.  Actually we did the two weeks of required IST then each did another week- Gary did Grass Roots Soccer and Teresa did Gender which included three different “techniques”/programs to address gender and issues of gender based violence. We were at different hotels and due to computer complications (too much to write here) poor Gary had no computer for this week and the captions did not work on the tv- he did read about 3 books though. We also had several days of Setswana classes punctuated by another LPI (language proficiency interview). Last time Gary was sick. This time Teresa spilled water on her computer just before she went in so was a bit preoccupied. No results yet.  Definitely NOT FUN!

Teresa also ran a trivia contest during one of the evenings while at training. It was so much fun, she did it another night and has been asked to do it again at the upcoming All Volunteer Conference in April. Could be a new part time career when she gets home!

Gary’s Grass Roots Soccer was lots of FUN. This is a program that uses soccer as a medium for discussion about HIV/AIDS and Gender issues.  It was actually one of the best trainings he ever attended and has a great reputation. He will be implementing it at his school along with a Botswana counterpart starting very soon.

One of the three programs Teresa learned about is called Kings Pack and that one morning was lots of FUN too. The other 4.5 days- not so much. Kings Pack is a large backpack full of recreational equipment- parachutes, jump rope, hoola hoop, cricket bat, and lots more. The idea is that kids don’t play enough and play is good for them. Also included is the gender slant whereby many of the games can also be used as a launchpad for discussion of gender related issues. One of the biggest contributors to HIV/AIDS in Botswana is young girls having sexual relationships with older men who often have multiple concurrent partners.  The girls get “stuff” like cell phones or even more basic things like food in return for sex. Not good.  Another powerful program is In Her Shoes which follows the stories of ten women/girls who have experienced some form of gender violence. The stories are true and the exercise is like a walking Choose Your Own Adventure story. You make choices for your “person”- you walk in her shoes and experience the consequences of her various choices. Very powerful and must be used with care.  Teresa’s counterpart is a teacher at Gary’s school and we are still figuring out how we are going to implement the various programs.

So, back to FUN. We are busy planning some trips which will be FUN. The first is over Easter when we are going to the Makgadikgadi Pans- wildlife, baobab trees, birds. Second is July- so far no one says they are coming to visit so we are starting to plan for ourselves. We contacted one reasonably priced outfit and they are almost filled up for July- major tourist season and not so bloody hot. We will be going to Moremi Gorge on a 3 day two night camping trip including time on a Mokoro (traditional canoe type vessel). We also hope to go to the Tsodilo Hills where there are ancient rock paintings. Hard to get to and may involve renting a car for a day- kind of scary but we’re ready!

We now have access to Netflix and since we were at 3 weeks of training, we have lots of data to use this month so that could count as FUN- just watched the first season of Grace and Frankie. Teresa still gets great enjoyment watching the chickens, donkeys, goats and cows who are always around. We also saw The Reverent while at training in Gabs.

We are officially off lock-down so our time is more our own. We are going to visit another PCV in Kanye in a couple of weeks who is having a housewarming- she had to change sites. It will be fun to see another village. We also met an young woman from Tennessee who is teaching at a school in Gaborone and living in a dorm. She and her friends are going to come to dinner weekend after next. This is probably more socializing than we did in 6 years in Santa Cruz!

Just thought of our most FUN game. We call it whack-a-mole. It’s really whack a termite. After it rains, at dark, the termites come flying in, attracted by the light. If we don’t close all open doors and windows in time, we can literally have the floor covered with them. That’s when the FUN begins. We each take a fly swatter and see who can whack the most. This picture shows you a very small sample of what it looks like. We have the floor completely covered. Last night’s score was tied at about 16 each.

termites

There is also our ongoing tournament for Yahtzee, Phase 10 and Pass the Pigs. We count games won as well as points and at the end of two years we will see how it turns out. So far Gary is winning Pass the Pigs, Teresa is ahead on Phase 10 and we are pretty close to tied for Yahtzee.

The bottom line is life is life and it goes on pretty much at a routine pace punctuated by moments of FUN no matter where you are. We are pretty well settled in and now that our community integration is over (never really over but the formal part is) we are working hard at getting projects started, grants written, etc- basically- work is work wherever you are but in this case we have the added element of working in a culture very different from what we are accustomed to.

Life is good- we are healthy, have our basic needs met and are definitely enjoying a simpler life with a much less intense pace (at least for Teresa) than in the past. The days fly by and before you know it we will be home working at retirement.

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