Thursday, April 21, 2011

War of Multiple Worlds

It's been a hectic couple weeks around Loopeng. War was all but declared on multiple fronts, and that's never fun.

We'll start with the most personal. The war the local water supply has declared on my intestines. If that's too graphic for you, don't join the Peace Corps. Health issues are a mainstay of volunteer small talk. In any case, early this week I ventured out to the nearest tap with the intent of spending a minute or two filling my bucket and then hauling it home. A minute or two turned into an eternity. The water was barely trickle. I should have taken the hint and hiked to another tap, like everyone else in the village, but the thought of hauling my water all that much further was much too unpleasant for my ladylike sensibilities. I waited it out at the creepy, abandoned, dripping tap. Big mistake. Whatever was lurking in that water decided to wreak havoc on my inner organs, and I've been barely mobile ever since. In fact, despite regular doses of painkillers, I took my first sick day. Well, it was really only a half-day, but I skipped two of my classes. The thought of remaining upright for two straight hours was just too much for me.

Meanwhile, Shaka the puppy had his own agenda. Instead of being sensitive to his doting owner's ill condition and being on his best behavior, his animal instincts won over and he went wild. Over what? Several women from Australia. This requires some backstory, so here we go:

What on earth are Australians doing in Loopeng? Well, it all goes back to the eighties when... *sigh* Let's get back to the present for a moment. There's a small consortium of schools that participate in service learning projects in "the valley" as they so pretentiously refer to a select few villages lining the Moshaweng riverbed. They have a kicky name, the Kalahari Experience, and a website or two (Google will tell you more than I know). By no means are all Moshaweng's international visitors associated with the Experience, but my impression was that these women were. Their mission was multi-faceted: 1) inspect the school for needed maintenance, 2) prepare for a winter school program and 3) interview applicants for a scholarship program. Shaka did his very best to interfere with all of this.

But why was Shaka at school? If you've been following the blog, you'll know all about my trials of keeping him tied up. I have an update! While the chain worked for a long time, the last weekend I spent away from home resulted in the theft of his collar. Yes, someone stole his collar. Why? It's impossible for me to even speculate. Apparently, Shaka is a bit too friendly. In any case, since Shaka is no longer restrained, he has taken too following my host mother around. As a member of the SGB, she often winds up at school, where Shaka finds me. Shaka now associates going to school with having a playmate all day long. Not the most professional of situations, I admit, but not a problem. He shows up, barks at a donkey or two, and sleeps the day away under a tree or a chair.

Well, that was his M.O. until the Australian invasion. The women showed up, and he went straight for them, jumping, jaws agape. It was bizarre. In a way I was pleased because he had seemed a bit lethargic of late. It was was nice to see so much energy out of him. However, he would not calm down. I would tackle him, he would wriggle away and make beeline for them. Or, if they were far, far away, he run in wild circles around their vehicle. Casualties were sustained by the visitors, including a small tear in a skirt and a light scratch on the arm. I felt terrible. Notice the past tense there. At the time of incident I felt awful, here were these nice people, coming to do some good, only to be met by 10 kg ball of fury hell-bent on terrorizing them. Oh dear. But when one woman's response was to inform me that Shaka was a "danger" to the students and staff of Moshaweng, well frankly, I was a bit put off. So put off, in fact, that the next day I did virtually nothing to prevent Shaka from making an early-morning appearance at school. He caught up with Danger lady as soon as she stepped from her vehicle. It had rained the night before, so when he jumped at her calf he left a row of sandy paw prints for her to wipe off. "Your dog did this," were her first words to me, rapidly followed by, "and I'm doing interviews today." All of which was accompanied by an expression that reflected the extreme difficulty she felt she'd been unfairly subjected to, along with her obvious contempt for the person she held responsible. I apologised profusely, even though it killed me. Next time she comes to Africa, I hope she remembers to pack her sense of humor. In a country where life expectancy hovers around forty, there's only so much shame and grief I can muster for a scratch and some sand. At least she didn't have to go clean herself up in a bucket!

On the homefront, the war against button spiders has continued, but I expect the end is coming. Or not. I just looked up and spotted a new web between ceiling beams. I guess the war on poisonous spiders is ongoing.

In more upbeat news, I'm checking out the Casa Thubisi and heading to the lovely beachtown of Swakopmund, Namibia for a few days. Happy Easter!

Oh, and in case anyone still doesn't have my new e-mail:

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