Hey-yo! It’s been a long and intense few months and I have not been in the head space to write. My muse had run away, but now she’s back (she being my muse, Henrietta. She’s gender fluid, goes by Henri, but prefers the female pronouns.) I highly recommend getting to first name basis with your muses. It really helps the creative process. Anyway, things got a little too intense for her and she just needed a breather. I totally understand, but now she and I are back, bitches! And ready to tell you all about what’s going on! We’re back with a vengeance, so you’ll likely see a plethora of blog entries this week.
This blog entry will be more of an update and the following entries will be topic specific. So where to start.
Honestly, I haven’t really updated you all much since my brother’s visit. I wrote a blog about his and my vacation, but we were going to attach pictures and sorting through the over 2000 pictures we took got us a little distracted. Now I’ll just give you the highlights. Having Nick here was amazing. I loved being able to share my village with him, show him my home and school, and give him a glimpse of what daily life is like here. He’s the person I share the most with back home (besides mom, of course), so it was really fun for him to actually experience all the things I talk to him relentlessly about. We even stopped by my old village. It was my first time back since being evicted, so it was really nice to see all my friends and the kids. Kids would run behind the car yelling my Setswana name, “Kesaobaka, Kesaobaka!”. It was adorable.
We then went on my first vacation here! We went to Namibia where I got to see the ocean for the first time in a year. I didn’t realize how much living near the water keeps me centered until I lived in a landlocked state and then a landlocked country. I’m very excited to live so near the ocean again. We had amazing food. Nick spoiled me with food because he’s the bomb.com. Before we even went on our vacation we had dinner with my PC person, Bethany and ate strawberries that made us cry since we hadn’t had them in so long. While on vacation, I got delicious German food that reminded me of my mom, burgers upon burgers, delicious seafood (again landlocked places just don’t do it for me) and the most mouthwatering steak I’ve ever had. In retrospect, all of this amazing food is probably what sent my gallbladder over the edge, but it was already almost there. I’m just glad I didn’t have a huge attack while on vacation and I wouldn’t change a thing about the way I spent my vacation. We can’t live our lives on what ifs. And even though I’m an amazing cook, the food I eat here is nothing compared to what’s available in the states.
After Namibia, we headed up into the more north western part of Botswana, Maun. Maun is on the Okavango Delta. We went on a Mokoro boat trip and a bushwalk on what they call Tortoise Island. We saw lots of animals including an elephant that was only about 20 yards from us. It was my first time seeing any animals here since I live in the dry south. It was really amazing to see the animals in their natural habitat and to learn all the intricacies of the habitat.
Nick rented a car, and he drove us the whole time. It was very nice to be in a private car, but also a little challenging to get around in some of the sandier areas. Although the drives were long, I love road trips. I always feel really relaxed on the open road and I get a lot of great thinking time in. Nick and I are both pretty introverted and not really small talkers. So we would have hours of just silence and listening to music, or we would get into these great long and interesting conversations. I’ve always really loved our road trips together. I’ve never felt as comfortable on a long trip with anyone but him.
Even though having Nick here made me more homesick, it also made me re-look at where I am. It’s so amazing that I’ve already been here over a year and having him here helped me to see how much more I want to do here before I get home! It was so great to have him here and to hear his perspectives. The only thing that would have made it better was if my mom could have come as well.
After Nick left, my gallbladder flared up dramatically. I was in so much pain and so sick that it got to the point where I had to cut out eggs, dairy, gluten, fats, and most fruit. I was only really able to keep down oatmeal, carrots, and potatoes without being in more pain or feeling even sicker. I went in to Peace Corps about it a little over a week after Nick left. We immediately did an ultrasound and found stones, but then had to jump through the bureaucratic hoops. They sent me to a surgeon who said that yes, I had chronic cholecystitis and I needed surgery. Regional medical wasn’t convinced. They were so sure there must be something else wrong with me since I’m so young, but they didn’t put all the pieces together until I was in South Africa and talking to them directly. So it was over a month of me laying at home, unable to eat, work, or sleep because of the pain before they sent me to SA to take care of it.
Once in SA, I met with a surgeon one week, had surgery the next week, and was sent back to Bots a week and a half later. I immediately felt better. I was able to eat, I slept for days, and I just felt physically healthier. But I was still dealing with the emotional stress of being isolated in my house sick for over a month and then being isolated in guest house for 3 weeks. I felt so alone, stressed and frustrated that I had had to advocate so much for myself when it was clear what needed to be done. All I wanted was to come home, and get back to a more normal routine, (that honestly, I’ve never been able to achieve here with all the crap my service has thrown at me) and feel like a productive person again. I hate feeling unproductive and like I’m wasting my time and that’s what those two months felt like. I was so excited to be back in Bots and I thought that I would immediately be able to shift my mental state to a healthier place.
Both fortunately and unfortunately, I had two friends from America come visit me as soon as I got back. They actually arrived in Bots the same day that I did. I’ve known them since the end of my first year of community college, so five years. One of them and I have stayed in contact since then and the other ran in similar circles, but not quite the same. We have many mutual friends, but never really got to know each other. We’re like a Venn Diagram where our friend groups are the overlapping part, but we’re divide on the aides. Anyway, they are traveling the world together as a couple and I was a stop off for them. Originally, the plan was just for the friend I’ve stayed in contact with to come and another friend of ours was going to join him. I think things shifted when his girlfriend joined him and the time table moved up four months. This was a little inconvenient because A.) I had just had surgery and was in recovery and a slightly unstable mental state, and B.) I didn’t have the same kind of vacation time that I would have had in December. I was also only expecting them to stay a week or two. They stayed for a month.
It was great to catch up with them, but I’m the kind of person who shuts down emotionally around people I’m not extremely close with and so instead of processing all the emotions I had been battling with my surgery, I repressed them. We did have some great times though. I took them on a vacation with me and 5 other PCV’s to a place called Tuli Block. It’s on the mid-Eastern tip of Botswana and has a lot of wildlife. We went on three game drives (although I had to opt out of one because it involved a 5 K walk and I was still very much in recovery), and saw many animals including a giraffe, tons of elephants, lions, wildebeest, impala, zebra, kudu, etc. and a leopard that almost attacked our car. It was a really great vacation and a good time for me to not feel so isolated. Also, while my friends were here, I had a Peace Corps trainee shadow me for a few days. She’s really great and now lives just about 20 minutes from me. She attended my classes with me and we got to know each other a bit.
I’ve gotten very used to living alone, so it was strange having people in my space for so long. I expected that they might go out and explore some, but they really just stayed here and hung out. It kind of felt like I was married because I would wake up and eat breakfast with them, then go to work, and when I got back lunch would be ready. It had many benefits and many drawbacks. When they left to head to New Zealand, I had a group of PCV’s come over for brunch for the weekend, and then I had my house to myself for the first time in months for four days. After that, I went to visit Bethany the following weekend because she was heading to America for a vacation a few days later.
After Bethany’s house, I had to make another medical appointment because I’ve been having chest pains. I went in last Thursday and my doctor told me it sounds like I have a viral infection in my lungs. So now we’re waiting to see if it resolves itself and I’m trying to support my immune system as best as possible. Over the weekend, I met with a ton of new PCV’s and then Ashley stayed the weekend. So needless to say, I haven’t had a lot of time to myself lately. I’m still struggling to figure out my emotions right now because so much has been happening, but I’m doing a lot better then I was even a week ago. This post is kind of a testament to that because I am not good at blogging when I’m in a bad headspace. This coming up weekend will be my first weekend completely alone since before my surgery. I am so ready for a good introvert weekend and hopefully I can kick this virus out of my body.
So there you go, that’s what’s been going on with me.