My feet are always dirty. That’s the take-home lesson of the last month, and probably one that will plague the rest of my service. My yard is all sand! I also haven’t been consistently practicing good Asian family rules of no shoes in the house. I’m working on it (and constantly mopping).
In other news, I still don’t have electricity. In fact, last week my power strip exploded and now I have only one electrical plug, which keeps my fridge on. I’ve learned how resourceful I can be, and the kind of minimalist lifestyle PCVs often lead. It wouldn’t be fair to depict this as the norm in Botswana. On the contrary, I’m told most volunteers here have electricity and indoor water. It always seems to be a point of contention – which experience is more “Peace Corps”? But one’s service isn’t necessarily more or less satisfying if he lives in squalor. It is but one hurdle, and there are just as many obstacles to serving in a developed environment as well.
Truthfully, the more pressing issues for me are with my NGO. I’m finding it difficult to rely on people to do things or show up to meetings. This is what can happen when an organization has no paid staff. My counterpart is the only member I see every day. Before I begin a project as big as writing a building grant, I need to establish good professional relationships with the members. In capacity building, they say if you’re doing something alone, you’re probably doing it wrong. Our day-to-day activities are essential, and I simply won’t construct a building for no one.
July is supposedly the coldest month in Botswana. I have resorted to growing a winter beard (though it isn’t a very full beard). My hair is longer than it has ever been. I look either very “grunge” or very “lumberjack,” depending on the amount of flannel I’m wearing. I never would have pictured myself like this: bewhiskered and perpetually dirty. But here I am!