Friday, June 24, 2011

Large Families, Language, and Lipalishi

I have fully dived into Swaziland!  I am currently living in a small rural village with a host family that was kind enough to take me in for 2 months!!  Honestl,y as nervous as I was to move in with them 5 days after arriving in country, it has been the best part so far.  My host family is fantastic!!  I have eight siblings: 4 brothers (Bhutis – Boo-tees) and 4 sisters (sisis – See-sees) and I love it!  Not only do I make the family count 11 but there are neighbors over all the time so it is a usual even to spend the evening in the kitchen, warming by the wood burning stove with 14 other people.  And yes I did say warming.  It is winter and I am training in the High veld (aka the southern region) where it can get to 40F and below at night.  During the day it get up to about 70 and the sun is warm, but nights can be a bit nippy, especially when your hut doesn’t have heating.  My hut is more like a 2 a separate house that I get two rooms out of.  It has no furniture expect a bed, 2 tables and a chair but it is beginning to feel like a home!  It has a tin roof, which hasn’t been a problem but can you imagine when it rains…

Language… so the two official languages in Swaziland are English and SiSwati. Nifundza SiSwati = I am learning Siswati.  It has been a challenge, but I am slowly getting the hang of it.  I can introduce myself and say what I like and don’t like, and somewhat ask questions and give directions.  We have language training almost everyday and you are constantly practicing with your host fam and people in the community.  It is really important for integration purposes to learn the language best we can even though most people speak English also.  My host bhutis and sisis help me a lot and my make (Ma-gay = mom) only speaks SiSwati to me so I have to learn.  It feels so good when they say something and you can figure it out and develop a response.  Not always the right response but one non the less.

Liphalishi is one of the main staple foods here in the Kingdom.  It is a porridge made out of mealie meal, water, and salt.  It doesn’t really taste like much but get used as a base to put things on top of like rice is.  My host family eats it almost every other day with spinach, cabbage, sweet potato, and/or a potato, tomato, onion, carrot combo.  I find it filling but hard to eat on it own.  My favorite Swazi dish that I make with my Make and Sisis is Sidvudvu (pumpkin porridge).  Just boil a pumpkin into mash, add mealie meal and water and your good to go!  Did I mention it is also avacado season.  Actually I think I am in avacado heaven because there are several people in my village who have avacado trees.  You just pick them and eat them!! 

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