Gratitude for nature, work, and food: What I’ve been doing the last four months

How time has flown! I have lived in town working my new job for more than four months now. My blog reading and writing routine has been severely disrupted and I haven’t found a way to work either into my schedule very well.

Work takes up so much of my time now that reading has also taken a hit. But I am glad for this middle ground of having a job and still being a Peace Corps Volunteer that is helping me readjust from the village life.

I spend a lot of my non-work hours cleaning (there’s just as much dust here and now I have a bigger house to clean!) and ironing. When I did my own laundry, I didn’t have enough power to wring my clothes out so much that I caused crazy wrinkles. But now I have a Swazi washing my clothes, and the wrinkles are intense. I ironed hardly anything in my community, but now I have to iron everything. I have also been learning to bead, and I have chosen working on some jewelry over reading the last few weeks.

I walk somewhere almost every day that involves a hill, which has been nice. I think my cooking is worse here because I have less time to spend on elaborate meals.

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The most chill white rhino I’ve ever seen. Those resting don’t count. At Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. Side note: when we saw resting rhino, we always paused long enough to make sure they were alive. At one of these stops I made a small coughing noise, which was enough for the rhino’s ears to twitch from 20 meters away. Their ears are definitely their eyes.

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I was not well positioned for good photos, so please excuse my slightly blurry lion babies. These are the youngest cubs I have ever seen. We watched their mom call to them and they came out of their hiding place. Mom was taking them somewhere new. Also at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.

I have been on two vacations: one to Ithala, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, and Ophathe game reserves and the other to Cathedral Peak and Giant’s Castle nature reserves in the Drakensberg and to uMlalazi nature reserve on the Indian Ocean coast in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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At Cathedral Peak with a herd of eland behind me.

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It was like winter minus the snow at Giant’s Castle.

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We went to Giant’s Castle to see the paintings at Main Caves. Powerful antelope-men have special powers. Yes, the heads are that detailed!

I have also visited two new areas in Swaziland with the birding group: Dombeya Nature Reserve and Malolotja Nature Reserve.

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Protea tree endemic to Malolotja. 

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A pincushion protea endemic to Malolotja. Definitely my new favorite flower.

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A streptocarpus endemic to Malolotja.

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Unidentified Malolotja flower.

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A snake lily at Malolotja.

There have been two book club meetings: one at Liz’s new house in Pine Valley and one at mine, where we put my big table to good use.

I have still been baking cakes for birthdays because at work we celebrate all of the marketing team members’ birthday. I have even baked a couple that I was paid for. Unfortunately, one of my beaters broke and my mixer sounds like it is at the end of its life, so cakes are on hold for the time being.

Thanksgiving was intense, with another year of 20 pies. Fortunately they were made over more days this year, so their preparation was much less stressful. It was the best-run Peace Corps holiday I have been to yet.

What’s to come? I have been preparing for a quick trip to South Africa followed by my trip to the U.S. I am not ready for the hustle and bustle of a place I don’t really know (my parents move while I have been in eSwatini) or moving out of my apartment in Salt Lake, but it is time for both. I am convincing myself that I am ready for winter, even though I am sweating away here in the middle of summer. My last day of work for 6.5 weeks is Tuesday, but I will be working on three days while I am away when I present about my time as a PCV in eSwatini at three different presentations. I started packing two weekends ago. I am trying to travel with as few things as possible, so I have more room for the return trip. I hope to finish in the next few days. I have picked out my first meal (something Mexican that’s TBD based on what the restaurant has because I haven’t been. Bottomless tortilla chips and refried beans will be on my plate for sure). Want to get in touch with me when I am home? Don’t use my old phone number. I am looking into pay-as-you go/pre-paid options, but I will have access to wifi at home. You can definitely use WhatsApp to get ahold of me. If you don’t have my Swazi number, ask.

 

 

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