|Hipster+Meme+LOTR = Ultra Nerdom|
|Me and ma Jersey girl|
That's broSwati for Sawubona (coined by Mr. Fouss, I cannot take credit)
A lot has happened since I have last updated, which is probably a good thing because that way I can let small things accumulate and then report on them, simulating an exciting life.
At the end of August was the Reed Dance (Uhmlanga), it's the cultural event of the year in Swaziland, where 70,000 young maidens came together celebrate their virginity and dance for the King. I didn't go. No, instead, Nicole and I ventured to the mid-veld and Chez Kiker. It was a very relaxing time which was much needed after the first month at site. We played cards, drank some wine and marveled at the craftiness of the Oregonian power couple that shall heretoforth be known as Boomslang and Viper. Then we set out for The Gables, the country's sole movie theater, to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was definitely a pilgrimage to get there from my site, but well worth it. We even saw a preview for another nerdy movie, Captain America, so if any of you have a predilection for comic book movies (obviously directed at you, Alex) let me know if its worth seeing!
A few weeks later, Nicole, my very good friend here, made the difficult decision to end her service and return to the shores of New Jersey. It was a huge bummer but having made an awesome friend and potential travel soulmate (India 2012!) is not anything to be sad about. The last few weeks have been an introduction to the rainy season. Rain is great, and is an opportunity for many volunteers to watch seasons and seasons of shows or movie marathons. Rain is not great when you need solar power to charge your electronics. I have been devising interesting schemes to charge my phone. Most recently, it's lead me to a store about an hour down the road where while I charged my phone for 3 rand, I talked to the lady who runs the shop who wants to start after school activities for girls and sports or dance to raise their self esteem. Yes! A mover and a shaker. Good stuff. She is also going to be my siSwati tutor. Sometimes not having electricity can be a good thing.
I have gone on walks to pass the time and have definitely gotten a better handle on the community. After which, I cook, clean and then read Lord of the Rings, which I have really been enjoying. I even teared up at the end of Fellowship when Sam goes after Frodo in the river and nearly drowns. So maybe I have been hitting the Tolkien kinda hard, and maybe I have a soft spot for Samwise Gamgee (my future Great Dane will be named after the ultimate loyal companion) but it definitely has been passing the time. Which leads me to my Swazi fact of the week.
Random Swazi Fact of the Week: Praise names. In Lord of the Rings, there are certain greetings you say to Elves, to Dwarves, to Hobbits, etc. Its a sign of great respect if you know the correct thing to say, and can often be a token of gratitude. Praise names are similar, they are something many of the clans in Swaziland have and my family taught me mine bit by bit. Now I can recite the whole thing, and just by saying the first word, people go bananas, calling their friends over and saying "THIS IS YOUR COUSIN!" It's been the most effective way for me to get people to remember my name and not call me umlungu. It is also a good indication that I mean business with this whole integration thing. We Shongwe are "beautiful because we bathe in milk", baby!