20 November 2010
~I live in a world where my television is replaced by a world map and I love it. In fact, I discover new countries all the time. I was never a great student, especially when learning important things like geography. Nothing ever stuck. I never knew where Tunisia was and here I am sharing the same continent. Life is simple now. I enjoy reading book after book, strolling throughout the village just saying "Dumelang" to my neighbors and new friends. I look forward to my guitar lessons with myself and my "idiots guide" and sitting on my little porch talking the late afternoon away with Richard and 'our kids'. Life is hard here, sure, but life is beautiful here.
~I found out yesterday at a doctor's appointment that I have lost 30lbs here. Holy crap.
~Here is a lesson learned story:
I remember before I even set foot on the plane to come to Botswana people were saying, "Mary, you're going to meet your husband there!" and I can't say I didn't have those words stored in the back of my mind. My dream since I was thirteen was to come to somewhere in Africa and be in Peace Corps and maybe, just maybe meet an amazing African man who I would love forever. However it didn't take long after I landed in Botswana to harbor major stereotypes and bad thoughts about the men here. I do believe that most stereotypes derive from some sort of truth and that's where all my thoughts against Batswana men came from...truth. If you've been reading my blog from the beginning you already know that I've said the men here are cheaters by cultural standards. Also, the women are as well but they're better at hiding it. Of course when I say things like that I am not saying ALL men and women are. It's a gross clumped stereotype that is shared by not just me and other PCV's but by Batswana as well. The many Batswana I have spoken to have been hurt by someone who has cheated. This however does not make it right to say. Anyways, let me get to the point of why I'm even saying these things. MCP (Multiple Concurrent Partnerships) is a cultural, could I use the word 'practice' here in Botswana? Trying to stop MCP is a job Peace Corps is here to do and it's one of the most important ones at that. Having many partners at once is spreading H.I.V. considerably fast here. It is very unfortuante.
Arriving in Botswana and learning about the MCP problem and hearing Batswana women tell me "No, no, men here are cheaters and beaters and they are bad!" made me slide down a slippery slope of stereotypical judgement. I did not come here to judge people or make assumptions and I am sad to say that without even realizing it I was doing those very things. Do I think that men here are cheaters? Yes! However, I have learned from getting to know some men that this is of course not the case for all men but once you start to judge some men you slowly lump them all in the same category. I knew this from the start but I was fogged by what I saw and heard. When you are constantly approached by men who are asking to sleep with you, say that they love you or both and the whole time they are wearing their wedding rings or telling you about their children it can poison your thoughts. I was getting so irritated and frustrated that these men were disrespecting their partners and me.
Something that helped unfog my mind was a friendship I made with a guy in my village the first week I arrived at site about 5 months ago. I was very weary of him and cautious because of all the things I had heard but he slowly showed me that he was genuine. After about 3 months of seeing him around and saying our hello's we started to hang out. We would talk for hours about our different cultures, I would go to his football matches and teach him how to use a computer and it was just nice. He didn't creep me out like the countless guys I pass everyday. He was my friend. To help him in the 'good guy' points department he works at a counseling center as a volunteer MCP counselor. Bonus! This fact didn't make me swoon just yet, here even Pastors preach about love and faithfulness while they themselves are sleeping with many women at once behind their wives back.
Our friendship kept growing and it got to a point where I wanted something more but I struggled with the thoughts and stereotypes I had. I spoke with a good friend back in the states (Princess C!) who told me, "Mary, if he treats you well, if he appreciates you don't hold back, just let it flow" and so after some thought I decided she was right. So for the past two months I have enjoyed getting to know this great guy. He is sweet and loving, not to mention a smile to die for! I really like him. I still have my guard up for the time being but it is slowly crumbling down. Are we dating? Hmmmm...how do you date here in Botswana? A picnic at the cattle post? I like to say we're together and learning from each other. I like not being so defined mainly because I don't want to get hurt. He likes to talk about the future, I don't. It's too scary. So, for now I am happy with him and he tells me "Mary, you are in every sunrise" which I still don't know if I should laugh at or smile like a girl would in a cheesy, romantic movie. Those of you who know me know that I thrive off humor so believe me it was VERY hard not to laugh right in his face when he said that! You also know that I've been waiting for a "Noah Calhoun" type to say things like that to me so when it actually happened I didn't expect it or know what to do but smile. Oh man, I am swooning now.
Don't worry Mom, I'm not going to stay a day longer here than I have to but don't get your hopes up either for me bringing home an African husband! Our families are too important to us so it will end. It will be dreadfully sad but I am sure I will be thankful for all that we taught each other and the time we shared. Man, I am a cheese ball to the MAX today! Oh, his name is Omphile but he goes by Fila. His friends call him Soldier (Destiny's Child would give me a pat on the back for that one.)
I didn't even think I would be blogging about a relationship on a public space but I had to share that I have learned that even when I think I'm not judging I am and I need to watch myself. Stereotypes are dangerous and they can lead you the wrong way and you can miss out on the greatness of people.
More to come.
Peace and Love,