April 27, 2010

Foodtastic!! AKA EAT YOUR VEGGIES!!!!

Holy backwards buttons, Batman—TWO blog entries in ONE week?!  Shocking, I know, but today was pretty momentous, if rather uneventful, and therefore warrants a blog entry, even after the previous mini-novel of a blog.

Among the things that PCV’s (that’s Peace Corps Volunteers for those of you who have yet to master the world of Peace Corps acronyms—almost makes me feel like I’m back in law school) find to gripe about (we are all immensely thrilled for the privilege of serving in the PC, and frequently express that sentiment, but we are still human and therefore have no problem finding opportunities to complain) is that during staging/PST (pre-service training), there are very few opportunities to actually get out and see anything, aside from our gracious host families’ homes and our classrooms (class is generally 8am-5pm-ish, 6 days a week, with an hour of walking each way, and we are not allowed to be out after dark for safety reasons, and it is fall here, so it gets dark just as we are arriving home).  Consequently, it is easy to feel rather “caged” during this part of service.

In almost every respect, today was no exception.  Today we had to process our residency status here in Bots, so we had to get up early to take combis down to the immigration office in Gaborone—about 2 hours each way, with traffic.  In typical PST fashion, we were carted directly to and from the office, where we sat for several hours waiting for our applications to be processed (bureaucracy is bureaucracy, wherever you are!), and were not able to venture out at all.  Understandable, but still maddening, when we have all been itching to get here and explore for so very long. 

So what was so exceptional about today, then?  Well...wait for it…it might blow your mind.  Actually, it almost certainly won’t blow your mind, but the fact that it generated such a great deal of excitement amongst the entire Bots 9 group will shed a bit of light on the experience of being a PCV in PST.  So here it is: on our way home……we got to stop……….for food………..at the mall……..the MALL…….…in GABORONE!!!!...FOR FOOD!!!!!!!!! … !!!!!  Yeah, I know—it’s life-changingly awesome right?!  Yeah.  I pretty much spent my food budget for the week, but whatever…there were so many things to choose from…for the non-vegans/veggies, there was pizza-like bread with cheese, also some bread stuffed with spinach and cheese and garlic (OMG, GARLIC!?!?!!$@$!!  SRSLY?!??!!  AHHH!)!  And for the vegans (and veggie-friendlies), a friend and I hit the jackpot: we found…(seriously, wait for it, it is a-freaking-mazing)…HUMMUS!!!!!  AND DOLMADES!!!!!!!!!!  AND A SALAD BAR!!!!!  I ate BROCCOLI and CAULIFLOUR and GREEN BEANS and PEAS and TOMATOES and LETTUCE (iceburg, but still)!!!!!!  And WHOLE GRAIN pitas…ZOMG…there aren’t words…  And then, the whole rest of the day, I was feeling SO amazing—energetic, happy, bubbly…the way I *usually* feel…and I kept thinking, why, all of a sudden, am I SO happy?  And then I would remember—I ate ACTUAL VEGETABLES today, instead of getting my nutrients from a pill or powder!!  Even being the ardent foodie that I am, I can’t believe the difference in the way I feel…

Incidentally, I should point out that this is not intended as a criticism of the local cuisine—as a PCV, my diet differs from many of the locals, as most of my food must be portable (think peanut butter sandwiches, every day…seriously, every day—not at all customary in Botswana, but nearly the only thing that works for most PCV’s to take to school, and in Bots, the main meal is eaten at lunch, so my diet is quite skewed).  Additionally, it is more a reaction to the difference in foods—my diet in America is very different—pretty veggie-heavy, and not nearly as starchy as a lot of  the more traditional food here—and my body just hasn’t really had a chance to adapt…but all that said, I really do hope I will receive placement where I am able to obtain fresh produce, as it has a remarkably strong impact on my psyche. 

So let that be a lesson to you: eat your veggies!!!  Seriously.  You have access to them—take advantage of that.  And brush your teeth, too.  That has no relevance in this story, but is just good advice.  Oh, and I found out that my cell phone has three video games—also totally irrelevant, but it did add to the overall awesomeness of the day.  Well, I’m out, folks.  Eat some broccoli for me, kay? Night!

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