I was anxious and excited at the same time waiting to meet Babe. I can easily say the main parts to a siSwati greeting at this point, which is the extent of my confident siSwati. I think Babe was anxious too, because he did not say much during our first meeting other than my new name, which I could not pronounce.
Two days later (June 24) and I am still having a hard time.
Ntombi, pronounced in-tome-bee.
The first afternoon, night, and morning were tense. I felt so much like an outsider. The children did not want to play with me. I could not figure out the family structure (still haven’t). I did not know where I was in relation to all but one of the other trainees in my village. And I definitely did not know what was for dinner.
Ntombi, meaning girl.
I watched how to hand wash clothes. I rinsed the suds off clean dishes. I had rice and beans for dinner. I counted 10 bowls filled with dinner. I was able to serve myself. I watched a couple hours of TV with the children and young adults. I mesmerized the infant with my glasses and shiny earrings. I organized my room and went to bed proud to have survived my first day but with anguish over my lackluster interactions with my host family. The morning was rough because it took 45 minutes to hard boil and cool two eggs for lunch. My smallest pot is very wide, so it required lots of water, which took a long time to boil. I managed to cool the eggs without wasting any water. I ran out of time, so I had a spoonful of peanut butter for breakfast.
Ntombi, pronounced properly when I said goodbye to my sisi (sister) the next morning.
I headed to the end of the driveway to wait for the school bus. Sisi called me back, saying she would wait with me for the bus, so we walked to the stop together. When I looked up to watch for the bus, a beautiful sight was before me.
What a beautiful welcome in Swaziland.
Reading: Game of Thrones
Trainee count: 38