Finally a moment to sit down with my blog and update it directly. Emma has been my blogmaster these last couple of weeks and I cannot thank her enough for typing in snippets from my letters home and scanning and posting the photos I have snail mailed.
The internet cafe's soundtrack just came up with our favorite khumbi song, "Jezibel". Well second to that perennial khumbi favorite, "I don't want no short dick man."
Yep, it's official. Tuesday afternoon, our group of Mighty Fine G-9s were sworn in an elaborate ceremony in Mbabane. The US Ambassador to Swaziland administered the oath as we all raised our right hands and stumbled to repeat after him. The Prime Minister of Swaziland, a member of the royal family, was on hand as well to offer us a few words of wisdom -- apparently he studied chemistry for three years at the University of Wisconsin as a young man and still keeps in touch with his host family. Particularly moving was a short video that was shown about the Peace Corps (I used to think them trite and trival but now they bring tears to my eyes) and an absolutely amazing speech by my friend and roommate Kerry Sullivan. She really nailed it -- mixing up a bit of humor ("We in Makhonza will miss our khumbi driver who we nicknamed Manny or Man U for his Manchester United sweatshirt as Khiza trainees will miss their "city jive" - the local alcholic beverage that's cheap and fruity") and seriousness ("Give your best to the people of Swaziland, and you will discover the best in yourselves").
The next morning bright and early, we (and all our masses of stuff) were shuttled off in separate cars and trucks to our permanent sites. I think everyone in Group 9 was sad to be split apart after so much time together and a little nervous about what they would find at the end of the tunnel.
I am extremely fortunate to be in the same corner of Swaziland as we were stationed for training. I am already settled into my gogo (grandmother) hut in the Simelane family homestead in Khiza. Gogo Simelane is a bright 62-year old woman with an amazing command of English having worked as a domestic for a family in Johannesburg for over 35 years. She also has a lovely twinkle in her eye and a constant smile and looks after her two grandchildren -- GeGe (which I am not doubt misspelling) who is 6 years old and her grandson who is 16 years old. They are both adorable and the house and garden are neat as a pin.
My hut is a separate cement building which is roundish (with 8 corners) and a tile roof. It is painted a pale peach and my new double bed sits right in the middle of the room. I have one plug and a round bulb hanging from the center of the tile roof. Well, no more of these painful interior design details - I will send a photo home soon (for Emma to scan and post for me?) Uploading photos directly on to my blog takes so long, it is completely impractical though I hope to figure out a home computer connection soon.
Suffice it to say for now, I'm very comfortable and pretty darned happy most of the time.
The school I will be working at, Nsongweni High School, has just finished term and the students are on holiday until September 13th so I think I will have plenty of time to wander around town, meet the locals and get organized before settling down to the true task at hand. I suppose I might even hire my private SiSwati tutor too -- though I am listening to SiSwati on my new 40 Rand radio and enjoying it. I'm hoping it will sink in effortlessly but I'll have to keep you posted on that.
Better run -- I'm going to meet another PC G-8 volunteer in town today, Sophia, who is from Santa Cruz. Wish we could grab a cappuchino at a local cafe, but unfortunately, this part of Africa doesn't seem to have adopted that gorgeous tradition. I think it would be a delightful one to bring here, given the perfect 70 degree sunshine and great people watching! Hambe kahle everyone. I will write again soon.