Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Shame

I would say I'm sorry but saying sorry denotes that a change might occur. A change which I can make no promises, will come about. We may or may not write in the near future. That said we remain in Africa and continuously enjoy all the ups and downs that life brings. Hilary has now fully recovered from bronchitis. They thought it was swine flu (which would have followed the "s" pattern of all her other illnesses) but alas it was just a nasty cough that brought on an asthma attack. Hilary doesn't even have asthma, so let this be a warning to EVERYONE out there, you are not exempt. I personally believe doctors everywhere should distribute inhalers "just in case." She had to stay in town for a week but was extremely happy to return home Sunday. Jay's partnership proposal is in the works. It's now posted on the Peace Corps website so if you feel the need to donate you can go to and we think, search for Jay Jackson among the Peace Corps Partnerships. If you have trouble figuring it out email us and maybe we can talk you through it. I'll keep this one short and sweet. We miss you all and hope life has been kind to you. Steer clear of swine flu and enjoy the fall...we hear it's been a hot summer. Until the next time.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Still Kickin'...

Seems as though that should have been the title of our Thanksgiving blog. Anyhow, we're busy and currently healthy. Just a few nasty little bugs here and there but we're just trying to keep up with the Jones' so to speak. Can't have little kids with snotty noses outdoing us, now can we? Things are settling in and down these days. Jay's busy playing with fruit trees and Hilary's still busy with her pots, pans and yarn. Now don't we sound like just the little American couple? A new addition has been the "wind" known to us westerners as tornadoes. Not really but when you live in a grass thatch, sometimes stick and mud hut you can imagine. Funny and creepy story. A couple of nights ago when the wind started we awoke, a little disturbed by the sound. Jay peeked outside to see how things looked and found Gogo Nhlabatsi making her way through the courtyard, cackling (we thought to herself but turns out she was laughing at the face Jay was making). Normal? She claims she was heading to check the roof on one of the other houses, not sure what she could have possibly done to fix it at that point, but nonetheless. All I was thinking was, "Jay, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." I love the way Swazis tend to downplay EVERYTHING. "Oh yeah we might get a little drizzle." Meaning get on high ground this place is about to flood, or "we might get a breeze, " translation your roof will be gone tomorrow. It's kind of nice. Everyday is a new adventure. We miss y'all and love you all. Hope to see some of you in the near future as we know some of you are plannign trips. Until then, take care.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Actual fruit...well vegetables anyway

And last but not least, our garden. Our pride and joy. Now is the perfect time to grow vegetables as it's not too hot and there's still water readily available. The sun was just too intense during the summer so we kinda had to wrap our last garden up rather quickly in January. Now we're focusing more on specific projects within the community and going a little beyond the personal relationships we've developed. Stay tuned for more news on that but until then please 'Sala Kahle!' (Stay well).

More Fruit

Ok so Hilary didn't do such a great job as videographer in this one but 'Hey, We're in Africa' so cut her some slack. You probably need to stretch your neck out anyhow...just tilt it a little to the left. Anyhow, above you'll find our next big adventure...Bee Keeping. Jay has now completed 2 trap boxes, smaller than the normal boxes and used simply for catching them. The top of this box is made up of 7 topbars that run the length of the box. Once a colony has moved in and gotten to work (and it's no longer winter, they don't like the cold so you can't move them) you take the middle top bar and move it to the big box which has 21 topbars. And that my friends is how you begin a bee box. More on that later but for now you get the jist...we hope! So we ran this box up into the mountain where we had earlier located a hive in the side of a dirt wall. We placed honey on the middle top bar and then put the box in a safe, hidden place and apparently the bees smell (sense) the honey and start buliding away. Why bee keeping you ask? Because fresh honey is DELICIOUS, besides the botulism of course, kidding...kind of. No, but actually our community has just taken bee keeping up as a new project so we figured it'd be easier to help them out and keep them motivated if we were also keeping bees. Sounds easy but we'll see. Hope you guys enjoyed the last video as well as this one! Potentially one more on the way.

Some more activities around the homestead.

The Fruits of Our Labor

Just thought we'd give you guys a little eye candy this go round. You all write messages like we starve you of pictures and what not so we thought we'd surprise you with a little taste of Swazi life. This is our hut, simple but feels like home now.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Not all fun and games.

Despite what many of you are thinking after reading the previous blogs, we do actually work...some. Though it's not your usual 8-5 or even 8-noon job, we like to think of our work in terms of everyday living. Living, to some degree is after all work. It's hard to wake up to roosters chortling, turkeys gobbling (or rather laughing, jay believes at him and his inability to wake up easily), get out of bed, discuss whether or not to go running, make some breakfast, have a nice fresh cup of french press coffee (hint we can make coffee so ground coffee is a nice surprise), do some reading, chit chat with boGogo, do some laundry (not easy to do i promise), walk down to the garden, say hi to the neighbors or rather "sanibonani", and all this most the time before 9am. There's any number of events that might consume our time for the rest of the day. For a couple of months now Jay has been busy germinating fruit trees with the hopes of encouraging the community to plant orchards or start a nursery. Together we have been visiting homesteads, delivering bean seeds, (kinda like a door to door salesman, but not) trying to convince people to diversify their crops. We've also been meeting with the local youth clubs and teaching health/lifeskills at the high school. Hilary gets anxiety from this as you all can only imagine her standing in front of a group of 80 high schoolers, age range from 16 to 28. Yes you can go to high school forever here. Hilary has been working with the local women to start a sewing co-op, among other things. And of course, throughout all the work we're doing we are building relationships and discussing some of the more complicated issues invloving HIV/AIDS, which is, after all, our purpose in being here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hey...we're in Africa!

Something we find ourselves saying more often than not. Kinda that, let's take a moment, remember where we are and then just accept that the bus isn't coming today, or that the bus came but then the driver came down with some terrible case of something that requires a bathroom and just isn't coming back to the bus even though you're out in the middle of nowhere (no lie this happened to Hilary), or that you won't be having those blueberry muffins you were craving because electricity is out...again. Ok, that last one was a stretch considering once again we are in rural Africa and should be thankful to have electricity at all. So now in response to so many inquiries that we've received from so many of you back we decided to do a little series on Swaziland living. The first will be entitled...Everything Bathroom. No, not what happens in the bathroom but more so what the bathroom entails here. First off we have what's known to most as a pit latrine. Basically an outhouse. A toilet shrouded in beautiful silver aluminium which either resembles a futuristic confessional booth or a hillbilly's rocket ship. Take your pick...however it does include a beautiful skylight above the door so you can look out at the starry night sky or get pelted by rain. While most people would have a toilet brush, trash can, maybe a magazine holder next to their toilet we have a stick, or rather a reed, which is used to beat down spiders, and other various insects lurking in the "pit" in order to provide a short barrier period where one can sit undisturbed. You get used to it though we can't say you ever get "comfortable" with it. Now lets' take a step inside the house where a small plastic tub/basin awaits. We do have a solar shower which is a poor excuse for a real shower but a luxury compared to traditional bucket bathing. However, there are times it's difficult to go through the process of filling the bag and getting everything just right so you then resort to the bucket only. Now this is a fun experience, NOT a romantic one so don't get any ideas for back at home. Anyhow, it's all really very simple, you first lean over the tub to wash your arms and hair, then you crouch your body into the tub hobbit style and proceed to pretend your an elephant dousing your body in warm soapy water. You don't have to pretend but it makes the whole experience a little more fun, and besides who doesn't want to be an elephant every now and then. And that's about it, you pry your body our of the tub, dry off and there you go, clean as a whistle, or so you thought until you put a clean shirt on and thirty minutes later look at the neck only to see that it's already brown with dirt. Awesome. Alright, well so that's your first lesson into Swazi living. Enjoy.