Right now I am sitting in my little house in the desert comfortably for the first time in a couple of weeks because there is an intense thunder storm taking place that has cooled the air in my house. (This storm is seriously one of the most intense storms I've experienced here. I can feel the wind blowing through my closed windows and the lightening is awesome!) Anyway, I figure this is a good time to write a blog post, since I've been slacking a bit with my blogging recently.
So what have I been upto lately? Well, shortly after my Teddy Bear event in my village I brought five junior secondary school students to a "Girls Leading Our World" camp in Moshupa. I know I wrote a bit about this camp previously, but it was a project that another PCV friend had worked very hard to put on through her DAC office, and the rest of us other PCVs involved had spent months meeting, planning, and working with our schools to make this happen. Also, a HUGE thanks to my friends and family at home who made either monetary or craft item donations to the camp. Your kindness is very much appreciated by me, by the other PCVs, and by the 50 girls who attended this camp. I know I've also said this before, but the GLOW camp I worked on last February, and this GLOW camp in Moshupa are two of the projects that I've felt most passionate about during my now almost year and a half in Botswana. The girls seemed to get a lot out of the camp in terms of building self confidence and learning strong communication skills, how to protect themselves from HIV/STIs/teen pregnancy, avoiding abusing substances, and how to have healthy dating and peer relationships. They also got the opportunity to meet some very inspiring Batswana women, learn how to make paper beads and be self-sufficient business women, and participate in many fun camp craft activities and games. The first night of camp, us PCVs even taught the campers how to make 'smores for the first time, and we played games and spent time together around a camp fire. It was all such a fun, worthwhile experience!
On a recent weekend I also got the opportunity to do a bit of traveling within Botswana. I went with a few friends up to a place called "Planet Baobab" near the salt pans in the north eastern (sort of) portion of Botswana. Planet Baobab is a camp ground/lodge where you can hang out, relax, and see the amazing, 2,000 year old baobab trees. These trees are enormous! I wish my internet was working well enough for me to post pictures of these trees on my blog, but unfortunately I can't. Just imagine me with my arms wrapped around the trunk of a massive tree and looking like an ant next to it because that is pretty much what you would see! My favorite one of the trees at PB had a hammock hanging from it, and it was so much fun and so relaxing just being in that hammock for a short while. There was also a nice salt water pool there! Since we were also close to the pans, one of my friends who is NOT a PCV and is allowed to drive here, drove us out into the bush to look for the pans. Now the pans are literally the size of the state of Connecticut, so one would think that they'd be difficult to miss, but believe it or not that was not the case! We road around for quite a while before reaching them! Getting a bit lost wasn't so bad though because we saw some cool animals ( like a jackal and an ostrich running at full speed!) and met some nice people out at their cattle posts who tried to help give us some direction. When we made it to the actual pans we took some funny jumping photos etc. I'd been to another part of the pans back when I was in training and was shadowing a volunteer so that pans weren't so new to me but it was still fun. My favorite part of the trip was sitting in a tree for three hours watching animals come to a watering hole to drink. I initially was really hoping we'd see elephants, and we did not, but it was cool watching the different groups of animals just come to the watering hole at different times by instinct (first birds, then donkeys, cows, and horses). It was also just very peaceful sitting there in the tree waiting.
It always feels good to get back to my village after being away, even if just for a weekend, so since getting back to Werda, I've just been enjoying my village life. It has recently really sunk in that I only have about 7 more months left in this little village that I now call home. I'm very focused right now on making the most of the rest of my time here, and I feel grateful for the time that I've had here so far. Some of the experiences that I've had over the past year and a half have not been easy( Heck, some of the experiences I've had in the past month have not been easy for that matter!) I can honestly say that I wouldn't trade anything that I've experienced here for the world though. People have started to ask me "When are you coming home, again?" and saying things like "You finish your service so soon! What are you going to do when you finish there?". Interestingly enough, I am actually thinking of extending my service for a third year. My family and closest friends at home are aware of this because it is something I've discussed with them off and on at different points for the better part of the last 10 months or so. However, the difference is that the fact that I want to do this is now becoming more of a reality, which I understand isn't easy for everyone to accept. The truth is that I do not know what will happen. Extending means having a volunteer position for a third year, and that requires applying and waiting so who knows how that will work out? I'm still applying to graduate school. I could go home at the end of May or I could extend a third year and defer graduate school for a year. For the the first time in my life really, the not knowing isn't causing me very much stress or worry. THAT I can definitely credit Peace Corps with!