The last couple of weeks have involved a lot of frenzied preparation on my part. Frenzied? I know, it seems like everything I do is rather frenzied. There are a few reasons for this. 1. I take after my mom's mom in that we are impatient and a little bit attention deficient. When I decide I want something, I can't wait a few hours in order to go get it- it has to be immediate. If I decide to do something, it usually has to be right now or not at all. This will almost certainly pose problems for me as a Peace Corps volunteer, but I hope that it's something I am able to overcome. I will be a better person for it. 2. I am a procrastinator (also problematic for PC service). I do my best work under the extreme pressure of an impending deadline. Most of the time, I am frenzied out of sheer necessity. Now I am frenzied out of lack of any other focus. Everything comes back to, "When I go to Botswana..." or "Peace Corps...". I am sure it's really annoying to friends and family. And I apologize in advance for when I get home and all stories begin with, "In Africa...", "When I was in Botswana..." or "As a Peace Corps volunteer...". Just one of the costs of being my friend. I'll try to bring home souvenirs to make up for it.
Anyway, in my preparation, I have been buying a bunch of stuff that I hope will be useful to me during my time in Botswana. I have not done any meaningful preparation, to include looking at any more Setswana lessons. I was so overwhelmed in going over the first alphabet lesson that I panicked and pushed it to the back burner where it is less intimidating. I promise I'll get to it soon and report back. Back to what I have purchased recently:
1. New prescription sunglasses from the best online retailer of cheap prescription glasses
2. A sleeping bag that hasn't arrived yet
3. Wooden wedding rings for Colin and me. I am greatly looking forward to these. I ordered them from this dude on Etsy. They will be made of recycled cherry and recycled African blackwood. I thought it would be cool for us to have rings made of wood from both North America and Africa. Plus, I didn't want to bring my original wedding or engagement rings because they're too flashy and I don't want to make myself more of a target for theft. The new ones should arrive in a week or so.
4. A rain jacket and fleece
5. Shoes from Merrell
6. Linen pants, a couple of below-knee-length dresses, cotton button-up shirts that will be dressy enough for work yet hopefully wash/dry well and not be too hot
7. Cotton bras and some underwear
8. Green vegetable bags, as recommended by other PCVs, to make my produce last longer without refrigeration. They are re-usable, too!
9. An external hard drive for backing up my laptop and sharing movies & music
10. A teeny speaker for my iPod so that I can host some bitchin' dance parties
I have piled all of my Peace Corps stuff that I want to bring on the twin bed in our office upstairs, but I'm thinking it may have to move to the queen bed in the guest room soon. I still have to find a duffel bag that fits all of my requirements (light weight, wheels, small enough to be within the linear inches requirement, but spacious enough to fit massive amounts of stuff, inexpensive, durable). Unfortunately, I don't think there is a bag that meets these requirements. As I've measured my pack and only have 51 linear inches left for my duffel, I'm thinking that maybe I don't even need a wheeled duffel and can make do with one that I can just carry with a shoulder strap... It will be much easier to find a lightweight bag that doesn't have wheels.
I'm pretty much set on clothes and shoes (assuming that the shoes I ordered fit me). I do need to get some basics like underwear and socks, but other than that, I think I'm good.
I am getting excited about the prospect of visitors from home while I'm in Botswana (I know, too soon, I haven't even left yet)! Normally, thinking about people coming to visit would make me anxious with thoughts about what we would do, where they would sleep, how to arrange transportation, etc. But right now, I'm just wondering how many visitors I will actually get. I know that Colin will visit. He's obligated as part of being married to me, so the only question is when and for how long and whether he'll be able to visit more than once. My mom plans to come. I'm waiting for her to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Korea before I start assuming that she owes me a visit to Botswana, though. My dad will probably not visit because he is not big on traveling, but mom can be a rep. for both of them. My sister-in-law really wants to visit, which would be awesome, even though we didn't make it to Thailand when she was living there 2 years ago. My sister may come if she is able- I know she wants to, but we'll see where the Air Force leads her. Colin's parents probably won't come to Botswana because of an unfounded, yet pervasive fear of bugs and snakes. I have a few travel-savvy friends who I'm pretty sure will get to Botswana at some point when I'm there. Kristin, one of my bffs from college, lived in France for awhile, climbed to Mt. Everest base camp, spent the summer of 2010 in Uganda and is currently in Haiti is the best bet for a visitor. Hopefully, she'll be able to convince the rest of my college girls to make the trip in order to celebrate our 30th birthdays. God, that makes me feel old! I'll be leaving the U.S. in my 20s, and coming back in my 30s! Yikes! It's almost like time travel!
I'm two weeks away from becoming a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. This means that I have made my goal weight and will have maintained it for 6 weeks. I'm getting used to being this healthy size and weight again, but I'm really worried about gaining it back during Peace Corps. I know that while I'm in training and staying with a host family that I will have very little control over what I eat and even how much as a matter of cultural sensitivity and decorum. I am also learning more about food in Botswana, and it seems to be pretty starch-heavy. There's not much use in worrying about it now, I know, but I've worked really hard to get back to a healthy weight and I'd prefer to stay this way forever this time rather than yo-yoing.
I wondered if anyone else came across this article- it's over a year old, but I haven't heard anything else or been able to find anything else about Peace Corps policy regarding volunteers who become HIV positive while serving. I found this older article as well, and this one. Does anyone know more about this?