Friday, June 24, 2011

Swazi Food 6/23/11

It is said that as a Peace Corps Trainee, your time is not your own.   As you may have seen from my other post about my daily schedule so far, they have our schedule pretty booked.  I have only been to town on one other occasion so far.  When we go to town we have the opportunity to go shopping and go to the internet cafĂ©.  Last time I was only able to spend 15 minutes on the computer, a computer so ancient and slow, it took half of my time to load my facebook and as I was writing a status to my friends and family that I was alive, the internet kicked me off!!! Uugghhh…. So with only a few minutes I was able to e-mail a blog post that I had stored on a thumb drive the night before…
I have come to find out that the only things I am missing from home is access to the internet (mainly facebook..haha), 24/7 news coverage(esp English news), and chocolate(they don’t eat dessert here!!!)!!
So as for the food here…  Initially, I was surprised.. I came here with the expectation that it would be completely bland and tasteless, and I guess some of it is, especially their staple food, corn porridge.  But whenever I have had that, which is like every other day, there is always a gravy that moistens it up and adds nice flavor.
For breakfast, I was eating corn flakes most days.  However the last two day I switched it up!  The other night, I watched one of my Sisi’s bake scones from scratch with no recipe, no measuring cups, and in an oven with completely uneven temperature.  It is a wood burning stove with fire only on one side of the oven!!  I will have to post a picture, this thing is like something we would see in a museum at home…lol.  Anyways, they came out great and I had a couple with apricot jam for breakfast yesterday and then I made oatmeal today.
For lunchI either eat a peanut butter sandwich using the JIF I brought from home.  They have PB here.. kinda tastes like Peter Pan, but I prefer JIF… or homemade french-fries and a hard-boiled egg.  The fries are good, but way too much oil.
And for dinner there is some kind of meat either beef, pork, or chicken; and always the worst cut with the smallest amount of real meat possible.  The beef and pork is always on the bone with almost no actual meat.  I think they eat the bone marrow and then also chew on the bones.  Yesterday, I tried to chew the bones like my Make, but all I was thinking about was breakin my teeth and how long I had braces on.
I am up for trying anything.  The other day I ate chicken liver.. or at least I attempted… gross.. it tastes like a chunk of mud. I choked down half of it and couldn’t take it anymore.  I gave the rest to Babe(Dad).  I also watched Make(mom) wash the other chicken parts: intestines, feet, gizzards, and head.  I am scared for the day she pulls that stuff out of the freezer!!
Dinner is always served with a grain.. either rice or the corn porridge.. (think thick grits).  It is usually a huge heaping pile of starch too… so much different than home.  Every night we also get some vegetable in as well, usually spinach, fresh from the garden, or butternut squash.
I am not going hungry, so don’t worry.

It’s too cold to be Africa, life as a Trainee. 6/20/11

I left NY in the summer and arrived in Africa the next day and it was winter L.  I mean, it’s nothing like an upstate NY winter, but Afirca is supposed to be hot!  But don’t worry about me, Ihave enough clothes and blankets to keep me warm.  Also, because its winter, it gets dark here so early, around 5pm, which isn’t too bad since I am exhausted by 6pm and then force myself to stay up until 8p.
I have been living at my first host-family’s homestead for a little bit less than a week now.   I have been given a Swazi name by my family.  I am called Ficiwe “fee-see-way”(one they have been waiting for) Nhlabatsi ”en-schla-bot-see”.  Since, I have been here I have started to create a daily routine:
5:30a Wake up, heat up water, make my bed, bathe, dress, sweep room.
6:00a Go to Make’s kitchen for breakfast of cornflakes with mil made from powder (the first days the milk was hot since my water needs to be boiled before I drink it.. gross, hot milk… I bring my own milk now)… then I finish my siSwati homework since I went to bed at 8:00p the night before and couldn’t finish
7:00a Head to khumbi station if classes are back at the college otherwise class is held in the next homestead starting at 8:00a
Khumbi- Swazi’s main form of transportation when they can’t afford a car, which is almost everyone.  It is a 16 passenger van full to the max +1 or 2 extras.  Very tight fit.
Station- where two dirt roads diverge… not really even roads, just  two parallel dirt lines where the tires roll on the ground
8:00am-10:30a Training
Tea break!
11:00a-12:30 More boring training!
Lunch- left overs from last night or homemade french fries!
More Training
3:30p Back to homestead
Play soccer with little cousins on homestead, 4 and 5 years old
4:30p Start making dinner with Make
5:00p It’s Dark!! Glad we have electricity!
6:00p Eat dinner.. Bony meat boiled in water with some spices over rice or corn flour porridge (lipashli), and spinach.. then wash and dry dishes
8:00p Excuse myself, take another bath (2 baths a day is a must in this culture), and try to study or do homework, pass out instead.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I made it to Swaziland safely!!

I left Syracuse for Swaziland 10 whole days ago! Wow!! I cannot
believe it! The plane ride from JFK to Johannesburg, South Africa was
15 hours long. The flight was smooth and pretty uneventful, just
long. I came to Swaziland with 38 other Trainees (we don't become
official Volunteers until August) and I am pleased to tell you that
every single person I am with here is genuine and hard working. They
have all become great friends in a very short amount of time. Once
the plane landed, we all hopped on a bus for 10 more hours of travel,
which included a couple pee stops, crossing the border from SA to
Swaziland, and dinner at a hamburger restaurant. I don't know if this
is a Swazi thing or not, but this particular restaurant puts BBQ sauce
and French dressing(I think it was) on their hamburgers.. weird, no
ketchup or mustard in sight… how am I supposed to eat my chips(fries).
It was very clear when we crossed the border of SAfrica that we were
now in Swaziland. South Africa was mostly flat plains and very little
shrubbery. When we crossed the border into Swaziland, the first thing
we see is a big mountain and many more trees and plants. This country
is very beautiful!
The first couple of nights we stayed in the dorms of Ngwane Teacher's
College which is where much of our training sessions are held. It was
justlike beingin college again; they cooked us breakfast, lunch, and
dinner while we were in class all day. The food was different… a lot
of it good, and some of it not so good. A lot of beans, rice, and
corn porridge (looks like mashed potatoes and has no real taste… its
corn flour and water). The beans or meat that was served always had
a nice sauce to pour over the corn porridge or rice… very good!
The stars here are beautiful! We arrived to Ngwane at night and the
first thing I asked was for someone to show me the Southern Cross (the
southern hemisphere's North Star). I feel like I have looked at the
stars in NY from some pretty remote, dark places, but it cannot
compare to the stars I see now!
I just move into my homestay the other day. I will be here for the
next 2 months. My family lives on a the Babe's(father's) family's
homestead. I haven't figured out how many live here. There is about
5 houses, a ton of sheep, cows, chickens, and a rooster that wakes up
around 2:30a. The nuclear family I am with I aMake(mom), Babe(dad),
Bhuti(15yr old brother). My Make is great, super nice and helpful.
She speaks English! I will tell more about my homestead later, but I
got lucky! I have my own little house with electricity and the spigot
with running water is close by.
I am in very good spirits. I miss everyone a little bit, but not
really homesick yet.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Yay! Today is the day!  It is finally here!  Heading to Philly today for staging.  Getting all of those crazy vaccines tomorrow! And then headed to Swaziland Wednesday!
Packing sucks!  I am hoping that my bags aren't overweight...  I keep trying to take things out, but that never seems to help.  The weight just stays the same :( ... Hopefully won't have to leave anything at the airport!
Bags are packed!  Hopefully they don't weigh too much!

I am not expecting to have access to the internet for a couple weeks.  I will try to update this when I am able, so please be patient and check back periodically.

Thanks to everyone for all your support and well wishes!  I love you and will miss you!
<3 Kelly