It’s hot. I’ve been sick now for four days. Puppies are everywhere and my phone will not stop “buzzing”. I pack up with Ryan and decide it is time for a nice relaxing trip to town. After some scuffling around and a mentally draining phone call from the camp, Ryan and I fetch a ride with our host family to the bus station. We board the bus after only 5 minutes of waiting. We take a seat. Ryan gets comfortable with The Economist and I with my book. All of the sudden screams come out of the television set on the bus; they have decided to turn on “The Punisher.” Anyone familiar with this movie would be surprised that a conductor with a bus full of school children would decide to play such a movie, as I am under the opinion that people should have consent before having to watch such a terrible film. Pouring salt into the wound, Ryan and I are right below the speakers. After listening to the screams of a man getting his teeth pulled out and a woman getting thrown off a building, I have had enough. Enough of the constant noise. Enough of the chickens. Enough of the poverty and lack of efficiency and poor quality of every single item I have ever bought in the last 14 months. Enough of being so far away from home. Enough, enough, enough…
Ladies and Gentlemen, I had hit my one-year-mark-what-in-the-hell-am-I-doing-here blues.
Peace Corps has this chart called the “Peace Corps Volunteer Re-adjustment Chart”. It maps the highs and lows of most volunteers and when to expect the rough spots and how to deal with them. I would call it ridiculous if it wasn’t so spot on. I am sure anyone ever involved in development work, whether in or out of the States, has reached these re-adjustment points, and as our PCMO says, you either adjust or you go home.
After getting off the bus from Mpaka to Manzini, we boarded a sprinter bus (what Swazi’s call a khumbi) and headed off to Mbabane. We were jammed in the back but I was relatively happy because the window was open. Sitting next to Ryan was an 8-year- old girl. She was eating jellybeans and I will be frank, I was staring watching her eat them. I see her catch my eye, we smile at each other, and I look away. A couple of minutes later, she turns to Ryan and says, “I saw your wife looking at me, she smiled and I thought it was cute, can you please give her these sweets for me?” My. Heart. Melted. Maybe it was the sugar high, maybe it was the adorable little girl showing me what I considered a very real act of kindness, but all the tension and frustration left me. We sat together eating candy beans and talking about our lives here in Swaziland. She lives in Manzini and is going with her brother to visit her family. She asks about America and sees our big bags and asks us about camping. “I think camping would be scary because of all the sharks, snakes and alligators. Do snakes ever get you when you are camping?” I show her American money and give her some coins to show her friends. She seems excited and gives me a “haibo!” when I show her a U.S. quarter, although she does exclaim, “No, it’s ok. I have real money. (Pointing to her emalengeni coins). She gets off the bus and we waive goodbye and my “enough of this” attitude vanishes and I am left thinking that maybe we could just stay here forever. Maybe J