Two years in the Peace Corps in numbers

Today is my second anniversary of arriving in Swaziland. Now I live in a country called eSwatini. Like the name of this country, many other things have changed. Or been broken, disappeared, or accumulated.

When I first started thinking about this post, I was doing laundry. I started thinking about how many times I have done laundry by hand here. I have only had my clothes washed in a machine twice in the past two years (once on vacation in Kruger and once on vacation with my parents in St. Lucia), and neither of those loads were big. In fact, they were small.

Trying to quantify laundry days got me going. I started thinking of everything else I could count. Here’s my list.



Laundry day

  • Worn out one skirt, two pairs of underwear, one shirt, and one pair of sneakers.
  • Had five skirts, one pair of shorts, one dress, four sweaters, and five shirts mailed.
  • Took four shirts, one dress, and seven pairs of socks from my mom when she visited.
  • Bought two pre-made dresses and three skirts from stores.
  • Had four dresses, four skirts, one shirt, and one suit jacket tailor-made.
  • Washed clothes approximately 48 times for about two hours each time.
  • Washed my blankets three times.


  • Ate oatmeal with raisins, peanut butter, cinnamon, and sugar for breakfast about 700 times.
  • Used 700 eggs.
  • Ate 24 kg of peanut butter.
  • Ate 100 kg of yogurt.
  • Baked 30 birthday cakes.
  • Filtered 3500 liters of water.
  • Chipped one mug, one plate, and one bowl.
  • Completely broke one mug.
  • Lost one spoon.
  • Missed saag paneer, my favorite mole dish from Red Iguana, and good ice cream the most.



Extra close to white rhinos with my parents at Hlane.


Oh hi there, fierce-looking lion.

  • Read 74 books, with two in progress.
  • Attended every book club meeting, which I think is nine meetings.
  • Traveled to eight countries (Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia).
  • Viewed so many new animals. Highlights include pronking springbok, oryx, black rhino, wild dogs, approaching white rhinos on foot, so many lions up close and personal, hundred-head herds of elephants, and flamingos.
  • Fell in love with birds (especially king fishers) and wild dogs. Ngiyabonga kakhulu Phelile and kea leboga KB.
  • Used 40 vacation days.
  • Visited the homes of six PCVs and six GHSP volunteers.
  • Hosted 25 visitors at my homestead.
  • Received 29 cards, 63 postcards, and five multi-page letters. Mom, I did not mean to slight you; I also received easily 100 envelopes of notes and news from home from my mother.
  • One package is currently lost in transit. 
  • Wrote 220 blog posts before this one about my service, clocking in at a total of 70,131 words.
  • Watched 89 movies with my bhuti.



The group of timbali who took me under their wings for the week of Umhlanga.


My aunt at her umtsimba wedding.

  • Attended eSwatini’s three largest cultural events: Umhlanga, Incwala, and Buganu.
  • Participated in a full week of Umhlanga and danced for the king.
  • Attended one traditional umtsimba wedding and one white wedding.
  • Learned 40 traditional siSwati songs.
  • Learned all the words to all of the songs on Sands’ Sands of Time album and to Mafikizolo’s Love Potion.
  • Spent 250 hours in siSwati lessons between PST and my community tutor.
  • Bought two chickens that have had more offspring than I can count.
  • Slaughtered three chickens.
  • I was legitimately in the newspaper three times: once for Umhlanga and twice for Buganu. Part of my arm and my head appeared in other newspaper photos.
  • I was on the news three times: twice for Umhlanga and once for singing along to Sands at Bushfire.



Tick bite no. 2.

  • Came down with a few coughs and colds.
  • Two unexplained instances of vomiting.
  • Two bouts of tick bite fever.
  • Got salmonella from undercooked chicken. 

Programming in my community


One of my English Club students reciting an original poem during morning assembly.

  • Created an English Club at a local high school. It probably won’t continue after I leave, but without it, I would have had zero work to do in my community and surrounds.
  • Created a GLOW Club at the same high school. While this could be sustainable because a former student leads it, she has become extremely unreliable and has stopped communicating with me.
  • Created a health education program with the incentive of skipping rope at my primary school. It was a disaster. My counterpart quit halfway through and then moved to SA. I never found a replacement.
  • Created a community service club when I arrived at site. The young people stopped coming when we discussed fundraising to support the projects they had in mind.

Programming out of my community

  • Worked on nine issues of the SOJO during 2017.
  • Attended four meetings of the HIV Committee.
  • Planned one HIV Boot Camp for G15’s PST.
  • Met at least 10 times with Nicole to update the CHAT manual for G15. We’ve already had our first meeting for updates for G16.
  • Led a permagardening session for G15 with Patrick.
  • Attended eight Peace Corps trainings: PST, IST, PDM, VRF 2017, Boot Camp in Zambia, MST, VRF 2018, and COS.
This entry was posted in Africa, eSwatini, Life, Peace Corps, Swaziland and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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