"It ain't the heat, it's the humility."
— Yogi Berra
Kuyashisa. Kuyashisa kakhulu. It’s hot. It’s very hot. Nobody ever says futfumele (it’s warm) in Ka-Langa, especially now that summer is upon us, and unfortunately nobody has gotten to say liyana (it’s raining) for awhile now either. Nope, it's another hot and dry Sunday afternoon. The temperature is around 35 degrees Celsius or 95 degrees Fahrenheit, which may not impress anyone in the southern United States, especially no one in Rome, Georgia (I only know because Grace believes Rome, GA to be the hottest place on the planet). However, here in rural Swaziland there is no chance of escaping the heat which makes a huge difference. Let me provide an example.
It's 95 degrees Fahrenheit on a sunny Sunday morning in east Tennessee. You wake up and put on your Sunday best (long sleeve shirt, maybe a tie, khakis, a nice dress or slacks for the ladies) and head out the door for church. Immediately you feel like you've walked out of your balmy 60-70 degree house into a furnace. You make a general statement like “Man it's hot today!” before walking the 10-20yds to your car and getting in. You turn the car on and crank the A/C down to low, double snowflake, the thick blue or what have you. You proceed to drive and park at the church after searching for a good spot (which if you're my dad is way out in the middle of nowhere) and you walk the 100yds or so (if you're my dad) to the church. Halfway there you say again “it's hot today!” and wipe the small beads of sweat from your brow. You make it in the front door and are met with the joyous feeling of cool 55-65 degree conditioned air of the church. Five minutes after walking in you've forgotten all about the heat outside, so much so that you are ready for a hot coffee of all things. You find your seat and begin to realize that you feel cold sitting directly under the grossly oversized A/C system’s vent.
In Ka-Langa, Swaziland, you awake in a light sweat even though you have your only fan literally inside the mosquito net with you. You get dressed in your Sunday best but you intentionally dress just 15min before you go out the door and in the lightest good-looking clothes you have. You step out the door already sweating lightly and are unsurprised to find that it is hotter than Hades outside without a cloud in the sky. You walk the ½ to ¾ mile to church (pictured below) barely noticing that you're sweating because the super heated air all around is drying you off as fast as you perspire. You arrive at church and exchange the usual greetings along with “Kuyashisa kakhulu namuhla” (it is hot today). You find your seat and notice something quite odd beginning to occur. You feel a few beads of water run down your neck and along your spine. Initially puzzled, you realize that now that you're out of direct sunlight and the air temperature has dropped a few degrees, your sweat doesn't evaporate as fast as it appears anymore. You spend the next two hours soaking in your own sweat and relishing every breeze that comes through the open windows, despite the fact that the breeze from outside is hotter than the air inside. You leave church and are none too surprised that after you reach home your are dry and no longer sweating. Once inside the door the Sunday’s best attire is quickly stripped, giving way to shorts and the optional t shirt. You begin to sweat lightly none the less and huddle around the fan, thankful to be in out of the sun. There is just no escaping the heat here which explains why at 8:00 pm I'm still sweating lightly sitting right next to the fan writing this blog. I'm not complaining though, I mean after all we chose this lifestyle, quite happily I might add, but I want to try and portray the weather accurately in a way in which you can understand so that now in the second part of this blog about our week you can set the scene more clearly when you think about our activities.
This has been a very satisfying week in all for Siphiwe and I. We got our front door mostly fixed on Monday (there’s a long frustrating backstory there which I won't get into) and we don't expect to get it fully fixed until…well…ever really, but it will do and we are much happier with it. Tuesday we went and shadowed classes again at the primary school which is always a highlight of our week, especially assembly which is how every school in Swaziland starts. The primary school does this chant though that is incredibly adorable, something like,”Good morning teachers, good morning brothers, good morning sisters, we meet in peace”. It's all recited in a clearly memorized, robotic manner but it's always in sync and all the little voices seem to over power the older students which makes us smile every time. After school, Grace joined the SOS Family-Strengthening Coordinator for some home visits and had a great experience meeting bogogo in our community who are caring for OVCs and whom SOS supports. At both the homesteads she went to the SOS Village kids built the houses with the guidance of a professional builder, and she said they were quite impressive. Wednesday, I went and shadowed at the high school and Grace joined me at noon for our first siSwati tutoring session. Our tutor’s nickname that she prefers to go by is Ngety, and we feel quite lucky that we found her. She had lesson plans with notes prepared for us and she's our age so conversation comes easy. That afternoon I hung out with Form 5 (12th grade) students in the computer lab as they typed their agriculture project reports, and Grace joined our Sisi who is leading a girl’s empowerment club through SWAGAA at the high school. Grace was very impressed with our sisi and we are both so happy that she is doing it and really seems to be loving it. Thursday was a glorious day as I went with our older sisi to Manzini to pick up pallets. We've been hunting pallets for a month now and it was such a relief and joy to find them. I missed our tutoring session but Grace went and said it went very well, we even have homework for next week. That night we built the first section of our three section pallet couch and it worked out perfectly! Finally we have some extra seating and storage space and it won't be long now until we have finished making our house a home. Friday we got up super early to head into the PC office in Mbabane to do some clerical/office work like printing surveys to use on our reports and discovering new project ideas. The week culminated on Saturday when we ran our first international race! We met our friends at Somhlolo Stadium in the Ezulwini Valley and 5 of us ran a 10k and 2 of us a half-marathon. Grace and I stuck to the 10k and it was a beautiful course with views of the mountains on all sides. One of our friends placed 8th in the Women’s 10km and another placed 10th in the Women’s 21km. All in all we were all very proud of each other and had a great time.
Well that’s our week in a nutshell and I'm still sweating…hope all is well back home!