Monday in a Picture – Superlatives

Every year, in Peace Corps eSwatini, the junior cohort plans a see-you-later party for the senior, outgoing cohort. In years past, it’s been referred to as Christmas in June. This year, the theme changed to Vikings. It’s typical for superlatives to be given to the senior, outgoing cohort.

After voting and deliberation, superlatives were announced and distributed. The above picture is me with my superlative. The members of G14 (my cohort) voted me….most likely to never return to the U.S. I don’t know how this happened, but never is a strong word. The above picture is of me with my superlative. Someone even drew my red shorts and beard, while I chill on a beach lounger.

Be kind to yourself.
Onward.

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Monday in a Picture – Swazi/Zulu Christmas

I’m writing this on the Saturday before Christmas. There are two times every year when people return to their respective family’s homestead. Good Friday/Easter is one of those times. Christmas is the other. Several extended family members from my host family have returned to my gogo’s (pronounced go-go), or grandmother’s homestead to celebrate Christmas. 

Two days ago, my family slaughtered a cow and sent it to the butcher. My host make (pronounced mah-gay), or mother, told me that I should be a gogo’s homestead on Saturday for a family gathering. My host bhuti (pronounced boo-tee), or brother, asked me to help him braai the meat. I was honored to be asked to assist. 

This morning, my bhuti knocked on my door to let me know that it was time to start the festivities. We went to the store to pick up some spices and beer. When we returned to gogo’s homestead (down the road from my homestead), some people had already arrived. Some of our cousins had started the fire in the braai stand already. I grabbed my apron while my bhuti seasoned the meat. There was at least 10 kilograms of beef to be grilled. It had been a while since I’d been at the helm of a grill, and it was my first time using a braai stand. Luckily, the concept and function is the same. 

As grilling commenced, people slowly gathered around. I spent most of the afternoon on the braai stand, and I was extremely happy. My bhuti made sure that I took breaks so that I could enjoy the food as well. There’s a certain magic that occurs when good people gather for a good time with good food. Imagine a block party meeting a family reunion mixed with Christmas dinner. That was today. The speakers blasted tunes as folks danced after they ate. Home brewed beer flowed freely. Community members, friends of the family, and friends of friends came over for food and fellowship. Today was a good day. It’s one of those days that makes me happy to be a part of this human experience. I’m thankful that I have been welcomed and embraced into my family, community, and all of Swaziland. 

The above picture of me and my bhuti doing/discussing braai things. 

Merry Christmas! 
Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

​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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Sweet Dreams – Christmas Bacon

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 a college during the  season. I was helping to run the mess hall with some other people. Things had been going okay. I was eating well. I knew several of the students. Maybe I was a student here as well. The normal kitchen staff was there and it was time for breakfast on Christmas morning.

We were up really early making sure that breakfast would be ready in time. At 7am, no one was there. By 0701, it seemed like everyone was there. I didn’t want to open the serving line just yet for some reason. I wanted to get the students excited about Christmas breakfast. There was a ton of bacon. As the line opens up, we start to have an attack from some helicopters. They’re shooting. Now I’m responsible for getting everyone inside and under safe cover. Once I think I have everyone inside, we lock everyone in. 

Be kind to yourself.
Onward.

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​Monday in a Picture – New Bike Day 

Merry Christmas from sunny Swaziland! In addition to Christmas, I recently celebrated another holiday: New Bike Day! Santa made an early stop to drop off a new bike in the Manzini region. I’m beyond elated. Peace Corps Swaziland approved me for reimbursement to get a bike just over a week ago. 

I knew that I wanted something that I would enjoy riding in my rural community. I wanted something that I could use for transport, recreation, and commuting. After speaking with a fellow PCV and a local Swazi about their respective bike buying experiences in Swaziland, I decided that I would check out Adventure Cycles in Manzini. 

I also decided that I would be purchasing a hardtail mountain bike. The shop had many options for mountain bikes. There were a few full suspension bikes that stole my attention for a while, but I regained focus. I wanted to have something that I would be comfortable fixing myself.  There were also some road bikes that caught my attention. However, I live in a community with gravel/dirt roads, so a road bike was out of the question. Again, I regained focus. As I perused the selection of hardtails, I settled on a beauty. 

This Scott Aspect 680 came home with me last week, and it is amazing! On its maiden voyage, it performed very well. It took everything I could throw at it. It handled like a dream while riding the gravel roads. It’s much more speedy than I was expecting. The suspension was phenomenal, and the ride wasn’t nearly as jolting as I thought it would be on the bumpy road. Of course, my legs reminded me that I should never be away from cycling this long. I’m confident to say that this bike was the right decision. 

For those of you who may be wondering, I have not named this bike (yet). Feel free to leave any name suggestions in the comments. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

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