Thursday, November 12, 2015

So, You Think You Can Live Like Me?

First things first...in case anyone is wondering... my training group has officially been in country for 6 months! Which means we're about a quarter of the way through our service. Why all the crying when I left America!? Two years is going to fly!



Recently I stumbled across some PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) blogs challenging friends and family back home to try to live like them for a day, a week, or even a month. There seemed to even be a game involved complete with levels of difficulty and points to be earned. I excitedly clicked on the link only to find that the website seems to no longer exist. Though I realized that instead this gave me the power to get creative and make up “rules” specific to Lesotho, or even my particular site. I decided to break up the rules into 4 different categories; water, electricity, cooking, and transportation.

Water:

  • Say goodbye to those showers and faucets! Instead when you need water go outside and get it from the hose or spigot. Ideally you'll put the water into buckets and bring it inside the house for use.
  • If you truly want to live like me collect about 60L of water in those buckets, bring it inside and use only that water for a week. For bathing, drinking, cooking, washing dishes and clothes..
  • Speaking of bathing. I guess you can bath in your bathtub/shower to avoid making a mess on the floor. Do you want the water to be warm? Better warm it up on the stove first then bring it to the bathroom and bathe with it.

Electricity:

  • I have solar powered Luci lights that I have hung from the rafters in my house that function about as well as a lightbulb would. So anytime you're in a room you can turn on one light bulb... choose wisely.
  • With my solar charger I can charge my phone at least once a day, sometimes twice if I'm lucky. When you unplug your phone in the morning, from having it charge all night, try to test yourself to see how long you can go without recharging it.
  • I can charge my computer anytime I go into the camp town, which recently has been about once a week. When your computer is fully charged hide your charger and see if you can make it a week without charging it again!

Cooking:

  • Are you someone who often reaches for “easy” meals that involve minimal work? Change your ways... now every meal needs to be cooked. There aren't really any fast meals here. And don't even think about grabbing something to eat on the way to work.
  • Quick snacks are things like fruit, hardboiled eggs, and carrots.

Transportation:
*This one is considerably harder to imitate. So instead I decided to be ridiculous with it.

  • Car pool to work. Does anyone you know have a rundown 15 passenger van? Then I guess your car can work. Let's say your car comfortably seats 5. When carpooling to work squish at least 4 people into the back seat. Then you'll need to fit one more person back there who is in charge of opening the doors and shouting to passerby on the street, don't worry he won't actually take up space on a seat he'll just squat/straddle the person closest to the door. 
  • Once everyone is snugly in the car turn on a radio station, preferably one with music in another language. Crank up the speakers! And don't you dare think of opening a window. Who knows what could happen!

Never leave your phone unattended

After awhile of thinking these things up and ultimately laughing at the ridiculousness I realized that there was a distinct trend running through all these rules. I easily could have titled it, “Make yourself as miserable as possible for as long as possible to live like me.” Which is terrible because I am far from miserable. So I tried to think of how you could incorporate some of the greatest things about living here into your day...

How do I facilitate a situation for you that you can watch a moment like this happen?

I can tell you to pack 7 people into a 4 passenger car, crank the radio, and roll up the windows tight. But you'll never experience what it's like to be sitting in a taxi brimming with bo-'me returning from an all night party who just heard their JAM come on the speakers and have started to dance and sing.

I can tell you to go outside and get your water from the hose/spigot but if you go to your neighbor's house to fetch water your neighbor won't immediately assist you in filling your buckets and then carry them back to your house on her head.


If you work with any people who speak a different language (one you also don't know) you can ask them to speak to you solely in that language for a day. Though you'll never be able to have a conversation that ends with that coworker shouting to another coworker, “She speaks [insert language here]!!” Or feel the overwhelming sense of accomplishment that comes with it. 

I can tell you to go to your nearest Chinatown or ethnic grocery store, choose something you have never eaten or cooked before, then take it home and cook it. But you're going to miss out on what it's like to sit surrounded by bo-'m'e as they help and laugh endlessly with you as you try to clean and prepare the food.

Chicken heads and feet, mid-cleaning



Clean and ready for cooking



I can tell you to walk in unfamiliar neighborhoods and greet everyone you see but chances are those people won't invite you in for a meal, insist you take their picture, or share their culture with you.

"Shoot me! Shoot me!" 
(Take my picture!)

"Hold my makoenya!"



You can encourage neighbors to come over to "see you", but I doubt they'll be clamoring for your newest coloring book, or stoked to sit their 1yr old baby in front of your house to see how many rocks he'll put in his mouth this time. 

Bo-ausi coloring outside my house

My best friends

Can't believe how lucky I am to watch this little man grow up for 2 years


Operation: Animals can be treated nicely too

Go to a random school in your area and see if you can do an impromptu Animal Yoga session with the littlest kids. Don't call me when you're picked up by the police...

Butterfly pose

Maybe you could walk into a shop and ask a tailor to sew a traditional outfit for you but I have a suspicion that when you walk into a group of people wearing that outfit they will not erupt into song and dance because they think you look so beautiful!

Traditional seshoeshoe
Made for a party at the clinic

My host mother and I

I can tell you to leave all your beer out on the counter so that it's warm when you're finally about to drink it. But the next time you find cold beer no one will be there to celebrate with you, because they just won't understand.

Hard to express just how exciting this moment was

I could tell you to go to your nearest lodge to partake in a donkey pub crawl but... wait! Is that even a thing in the States?? Yeah didn't think so...

Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like

You may never understand what it's like to shout to everyone you pass, "Re ea Maseru ka Tonki!"
(We are going to Maseru (capital city) by donkey)


Brilliant

Finally, the biggest piece I can never simulate for you is the sense of community that is an integral part of Peace Corps. Maybe you could encourage a spouse, significant other, or friend to undertake this challenge with you but I strongly doubt that it will be the same as when I get together with my PCV family.






Phepi y'all. I just don't think you'll ever be able to live like me. And for that I am truly sorry, it's an experience I wish I could share with every one of you.