Sweet Dreams – From Grandma’s House to My Own Police Car

Because I am posted in a country where I might contract malaria, I have been given an antimalarial medication called, “Mefloquine”. One of the side effects of this medication is lucid dreaming. The following is what I dreamt last night (as best I can remember). 

I was at my grandmother’s house. But the layout was completely different than what I remember. Her bedroom was in a room off of the kitchen. I had never been in her bedroom. There were some neighbors who only wanted to buy the bedroom (as opposed to the house). Grandmother agreed too this sale. 

Another family member and I are now helping grandmother to pack up everything in her bedroom. The bedroom is massive. There are all kinds of really cool artifacts. My brother ends up coming to the house with his laundry. 

Shortly after, I was leaving a gas station. It was mid afternoon. Across the street, I noticed a lot of people coming out of what looked like a storefront. Not sure if it was a church or what. Apparently, they were just giving away police officer jobs. Someone brought me a pair of police ski pants, a badge, a gun, and a car. I don’t know where the rest of the uniform was. I was given the option to start as a police officer right there, or wait until the next day. I thought, “eh, I’m not doing anything”. 

I started putting on the ski pants right beside my new police car. The pants were kind of snug on me, but still fit okay. I didn’t have any kind of police utility belt or anything. I was wondering where I was going to put my gun. 

As I was getting dressed, people were gathering around me. A relatively famous gospel singer was about to put on a show. She was locally famous. She only sang one song. “I sing because I’m happy/I sing because I’m free”. This other lady, who apparently was a new police officer as well, was there with her young son. It had started to drizzle. She was telling her son that they had to get home before the rain started. I realized that not everyone was given their own police car. I somehow managed to find some boots. 

As I’m putting on a boots, a fellow new police officer, who’s a man, asked me if I was going to take the Benz. I looked at him in a confused state, and asked for clarification. He told me about the police Mercedes Benz. I said that I didn’t know. He said that I should take it. He responded that the Philadelphia police were always showing of their Benz, and it was time to show off ours. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

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Monday in a Picture – Yebo Thishela

I teach. My school and community have been very welcoming and receptive to my teaching. My students ask questions and engage in discussions. While some classes have lessons prescribed and guided by the Ministry of Education, I’ve been given much freedom to adjust to meet the needs of the students. 

Lessons have included drugs, love, and consent among other things. The phrase, yebo thishela (pronounced yay-bow tee-shay-la), is one that I hear often. It’s direct translation is “yes teacher”. This picture was taken during a lesson with Form 1 students. 

This week, my students will start taking their internal exams on various academic subjects to showcase what they’ve learned so far in the school year.

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

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Sweet Dreams – New Money in London

Because I am posted in a country where I might contract malaria, I have been given an antimalarial medication called, “Mefloquine”. One of the side effects of this medication is lucid dreaming. The following is what I dreamt last night (as best I can remember). 

​I had landed in London. I was on vacation there. One of the first things that I noticed if that they had changed the money. It was still the sterling pound but it wasn’t paper. It was a thick matte plastic. And it was tablet size. The notes were different colors but all the same size. The denomination was only on the back of the note. One of the strangest things was that there was a 34 pound note and a 35 pound note. British people told me that this new system was a security measure. 

Anyway, I checked into my hotel. I paid with the tablet notes. The hotel room was nothing special. I started exploring London. I called a friend of mine who lives in London. She wasn’t there. 

I did some more exploring. Later in the week, it was time for me to go. It was a Friday. As I was walking around, I noticed a neon sign in the daylight. It said something about Friday being rib night and there being live nude girls. I tried to go there for lunch but the place wasn’t open yet. I thought about changing my plans to attend rib night at the strip club, but I went to the airport instead. 

Be kind to yourself.
Onward.

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Monday in a Picture – MTN

In Swaziland, we have one mobile phone service provider, MTN. Another provider is set to begin operations this month. For many years, if someone wanted to make a cell phone call, text, or use mobile data, they would have to purchase a Swazi MTN SIM card. 

While MTN mobile service is available in other southern Africa countries, the lack of competition means higher prices than in neighboring South Africa. MTN does occasionally offer bonuses and customer appreciation specials. During last summer, there was a customer appreciation week. There are some corporate MTN stores in major cities, but you can purchase airtime just about anywhere. The picture above is of the corporate store in Mbabane.

As far as coverage, it depends on where you are. In my homestead during pre service training, coverage was bad on a good day. Other days, it was nonexistent. At my current homestead, I’m rarely without coverage. For that, I’m thankful. We’ll see what changes the new mobile service provider brings to the landscape in the kingdom.

Be kind to yourself.
Onward.

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Monday in a Picture – Operation Smell Good

Bathing is super important. Work hard. Play hard. Get smelly. Bathe and smell better. During my first six months in Swaziland, I took bucket baths. For those of you who may be wondering what a bucket bath is, worry not. Boiled water is mixed with cool water in a bucket or small basin. I stand in a large basin and use the warm water from the bucket to wash myself. Just add a washcloth and soap. 

While bucket baths get the job done, they can be messy and leave water on the floor outside of the basin. I knew that there must be a better way. While in the PCV lounge, I saw a solar shower in the free box. I decided to grab it. After trying to figure out how to rig it, I finally decided on a setup. Two concrete nails hold up the solar shower. Four tree branches are suspended from the rafters and tied together to make a shower stall frame. Used flour sacks maneuvered around the frame direct water into the basin. 

With this setup, I use less water and have less cleanup. Also, bucket showers take less time than bucket baths. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

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​Monday in a Picture – Christmas in June 

In Peace Corps Swaziland, there’s an annual tradition. It’s a goodbye party known as Christmas in June. The group of PCVs scheduled to leave soon is celebrated by the rest of us with food and Christmas merriment. This past weekend, we gathered for Christmas in June. 

The above picture is of some of the PCVs gathered around to enjoy the festivities. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

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Monday in a Picture – Ummiso and Sabaca (NSFW)

Last week, I was fortunate to attend a school dance competition. Schools from all over the Manzini region gathered to showcase their skills. 

Ummiso (pronounced oo-me-see) is a Swazi traditional dance performed by young unmarried girls. This tradition is rooted in the grand Swazi tradition of Umhlanga (pronounced oom-shlan-ga).

Sabaca (pronounced sah-bah-click c-ah) is a Swazi traditional warrior dance performed by boys and men. In each ummiso or sabaca performance, there is singing. Occasionally, there are drums. A fellow teacher explained that Swazis communicate and tell stories through songs. The songs sung during the competition are no different. 

I’m very proud of our students, and all of the hard work that they did to prepare for the event. They represented the school and the community very well.

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

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