When I accepted my invitation to the Peace Corps, I said “yes” to living in a developing country for two years, I said “yes, I will do this for no salary”, I said “yeah I’m also down for hard or primitive living condiations. Whatever, bring it on.” I pretty much forgot about that last promise in the ten months I have lived in Botswana. Bots is the so-called “diamond” of southern Africa; I could go three hours to Gaborone and buy pretty much anything I want.(if it weren’t for my serious lack of a salary). Sometimes when I am sitting at a café in Gaborone, drinking good coffee, Facebooking with Wifi, I feel a bit guilty. Peace Corps Botswana, also known as Posh Corps.
Yes, my village is small and remote. Yes, I live in a (freezing cold) tiny cement block. But I do have a house instead of a mud hut, unlike many other PCVs. My house is wired for electricity and piped for water, unlike a majority of PCVs. I live alone, with no locals, unlike a lot of other PCVs. I know its bad to compare myself, because no matter what it is extremely difficult to live in a different culture, to not see your family for months, to work really hard to “help people” or “make a difference” when a lot of locals really don’t want you to. No amount of conveniences or amenities makes that part much easier. I will say that not having them makes daily life a hell of a lot more annoying though.
Since May my village has had water shortage problems, big ones. For long stretches of time, like two weeks stints, of no water at all. No rain to collect and nothing coming from stand pipes. When all your stored water is gone, well your effed. The school I work in had to send the students home a week early because there was no water and the school didn’t want to be responsible for students getting sick from dehydration (dehydration at their homes is not the schools problem).
When my water gets low I can at least get out of the village for the weekend, get a good shower at a friend’s place, do my laundry, buy some water bottles and over hydrate to prepare for my return.
Needless to say, no water is the worst. I can deal with no electricity, reading by candlelight makes my solitude kind of romantic, but no water is stressful. Can you guess what is more stressful than no water or no electricity? Not having both. Can you guess what I do with my evenings when I have neither one of these? I eat a can of beans and go to bed at sundown. I guess I am finally getting what I signed up for.
With all my love,
PS: did this post make you want to send me coffee and dried fruit? I sure hope so J