It has been brought to my attention that perhaps you (the readers) don’t actually live here in Africa with me hahaha. I of course know that but forget that some everyday things here that I don’t think to explain need explaining for you back home. So here are some basics to living Eswatini (in Swaziland).
Lets start with basic ammentaties. I live in a hexagon shaped hut (that means it has 6 sides). It is approximately 10 of my normal walking steps wide. It is made out of cinderblocks and cement. The outside walls are painted cream except for a foot at the bottom, which is painted brown to show less dirt. It is raised off the ground enough so I have to walk up two steps to enter. It has a tin spirred roof. There is no ceiling between the tin roof and the hut space so it makes the inside feel really big because the spire is really tall. If that wasn’t an adequate description see the photo above for a visual. Inside I have a tile floor. Typical flooring is just cement but my family went the extra mile and had tile lain on top of the cement. It makes my hut classy! It has three windows so it’s bright and airy! I have a real bed. It’s about college dorm quality but its real and I bought fun sheets for it.
My toilet is a pit latrine across the homestead. It is a cinder block structure with a raised plastic toilet seat over a large hole. It has a door with a piece of wire that you wrap around a nail to lock it while inside. When it is windy there is a breeze that gives a whole new meaning to air-drying. My shower is a bucket that I awkwardly wash my body in. I have many methods as to this and depending on if I’m washing my hair my bucket bathing style changes. However I have gotten it down to only having to use approximately half a small bucket of water to wash with. I get my water from an outside tap on my homestead. I fill up two 25-liter buckets every few days and lug them the 40ft to my hut but I don’t have to get it from a river so I am really thankful!! Once I get my water I boil it, filter it, and then bleach it before I drink it. Peace Corps gave me a water filter that can hold quite a bit so I can treat a lot of water at a time and continuously keep up with it so its not such a chore.
I do have electricity (my original site that I was in for a month did not so sorry for the confusion)!! My hut has one light bulb inside and an outlet so I can charge my computer, camera, and cell phone. Peace Corps requires us to have a cell phone for security reasons and my cell phone here gets internet! You have to pay for it so I only use it for facebook, which is basically free. I can’t see photos on my facebook however because the price depends on how much info is downloaded and pics are really large so I have the photos turned off. Having my computer is a blessing. I have peace corps reports to write so it helps with that and I pre-write my blog post so I just have to upload them as to not waste internet time once I get to internet. I get to internet about every two weeks. I also store my photos on the comp so that’s nice and other PCVs brought tons of media that I have loaded onto my external hardrive. I have had up to 10 people on my homestead crowd around my laptop for a Saturday night movie party. Very fun! I do pay my family each month for electricity use and water, since they have to pay for both monthly.
Grocery shopping is done mostly in Manzini (largest “city” near me) since they have full grocery stores with the most variety. However I can get very basic stuff at my local corner store but its much more expensive. The next community over has a decent small grocery store that you can get all the basics at more normal prices. I go major grocery shopping every two-three weeks and supplement produce in between. There are local produce stands run by women in my community and my family has a large garden that I can get produce from. My family has a small refrigerator that they let me store some things in like cheese when I splurge to buy (its expensive for not a lot of product). Things do go bad fast here when it’s hot so I have to really plan my meals out. If I have leftovers, will they go bad before my next meal or not?
Laundry… there is a poster in the room at the high school that we hold our health club in that says, “Expose all your dirty laundry.” It’s a poster to promote people to report sexual abuse within the family. However, all my laundry that is dirty does get exposed as I do it outside for all to see. On Average laundry takes me 3 hours. It’s all done by hand in my trusty green bucket, which is none other then my bath bucket. It’s a very multi-functional bucket. Here is how laundry is done. You soak your clothes in powdered laundry soap appropriately branded ‘Sunlight’ and then suds up each garment with green bar. I have no idea what green bar is but its looks exactly like it sounds… a green bar of soap. You buy and 1.5ft pieces and then just cut off chucks when needed; it’s amazing and gets very dirty clothes clean. Each piece of laundry gets smothered in green bar and then hand scrubbed. Then they each get rinsed twice unless you choose to use fabric softener then they get soaked in that after the 2nd rinse and then hung on the clothesline to dry.
I hope this helps paint a picture of life here. The way everything has become familiar leaves me overlooking how unfamiliar they once were. I am slowly forgetting how convenient things were back home as the time goes on. I don’t know if that means that things are getting easier here or if I’ve just integrated that far that the inconvenience is no longer shocking. I’ve stopped thinking how much easier tasks would be in the US and just do them as if that’s the way its been done forever. Surprising how a forever can be created in just 4.5 months.