Sunday, November 30, 2008

Terry the turkey met his match...

In the form of a "lomhlope" (white person) wielding a very sharp knife. Like all big events here in Swaziland, this Thanksgiving did not pass without celebration...or fresh meat. Three days before the big day we ordered our turkeys (meaning we walked 20 minutes to one of our Babe's house and asked for two turkeys). Wednesday, the birds arrived, not dead, plucked and plastic wrapped in normal American fashion but alive, fully clothed and still kickin' in true swazi style. No exaggeration on the still kickin' part either. Jay and Mongaliso were in charge of slaughtering this time around and while the head was removed in a second flat, Jay held firmly to old Terry for another 7-8minutes. If ever a chicken and Turkey were in a fight our advice to you is side with the turkey, you won't be dissappointed. Plucking and dressing ensued and the following day Hilary slathered that turkey in herbs and butter. All was ready for our tiny electric oven when lo and behold the electricity went out. Off to the wood burning stove we went and the rest is history. On a side note, Loftin family you will be very proud to know that monkey bread and Mema's dressing have both now been introduced to Africa. We can only hope that everyone back home had as wonderful and eventful a Thanksgiving as we did, afterall there's so much to be thankful electricity.

Also wanted to point out our address changed...
Hilary and Jay Jackson, PCV
PO Box 317
Matata L312
Swaziland, Africa

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Miss the Rains.

Hello to our long lost friends and Family. We are still alive and well here in Swaziland despite the prolonged silence. We have been spending most of our time in our community separated from these strange machines, so it has been difficult to keep in touch. That is unless you have dusted off the old pen and paper to see if you still remember how to write (or if you call us on our cell phone the writing just makes it seem further away). Life is wonderful in our new village. The rains have finally made their debut bringing an excitement in the air and personally a long sought after insight into Toto's* inspiration. These rains have brought new meaning to the term thunderstorm as we sit quietly in our hut staring out the window at the worlds greatest disco party while praying not to be a part of it. Jay actually received an appetizer when he was mysteriously shocked while stirring an enormous pot of tortilla soup. Yes we have brought Tex-Mex to Swaziland. We will soon wrap up our "getting to know you" period of our service and are looking forward to starting some tangible projects. Until the next time.

*Toto was a band that played a song in the 1980s for those of you fortunate enough to not know.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Getting Comfortable...

Just wanted to let you all know we have survived our first two weeks at site with ease. We couldn't be happier with our community/home/family. We've been busy setting up house but alas we think we are nearing the end. Jay has been building hanging shelves for our kitchen and "bathroom" and Hilary crocheted/tied reeds together for a fruit basket. Needless to say we've been giving the Swazis lots of good home improvement ideas. Moms and dads thank you so much for the packages. Jacksons, it's true, the seed package finally arrived and not a moment too soon as we have just repaired our garden fence and were planning to plant Thursday. We miss you all enormously and will write more exciting news soon...until then Salani Kahle (Stay well)- Hil and Jay

p.s. Tasha my email is
p.s.s. this is the view from our front door...jealous much?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

iZiki Zendota

One week ago today, with bags packed and excitement on our faces, we entered the iZiki Zendota bus for the ride of a lifetime. For those of you who don't speak siSwait, iZiki Zendota means "steps over men" and we have no doubts that this bus has stepped over men and will not hesitate to do so in the future. After a 2 and a half ride to a place in the country even the locals couldn't show you on a map, we arrived at what will be our home for the next 2 years. It's a small village nestled in the lugolweni hills, complete with a clinic, primary and secondary schools and 3 drying up rivers that leave Jay salivating for his boat imagining what they would be like in the rainy season. We will be living with the Simelane family, on a hill that overlooks the town and entire valley. We were told from the top of the hill we will live on we will be able to see Mozambique and South Africa on a clear day. Most of the family lives away from the homestead with the exceptionof the co-matriarchs, Bogogo. (grandmothers) The first morning we awoke to find one of our gogo sporting a hand sickle as a hat, recently returned from her sweet potatoe fields. Along with visiting the clinic and the schools the next 3 days consisted of an ongoing, very energetic game if charades intermixed with broken siSwati, as neither of our bogogo speaks a lick of english. Needless to say our visit went very well and we were sad to leave them the following Wednesday, especially when bogogo exclaimed, "Nyalo, sitawungesitunge!" (Now, we will be lonely) 2 more weeks of training and we will once again join bogogo to begin our work and create a home in Ntjanini.
-view from a hike in our community

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Happy Aniversary! Here, have a chicken.

And with that the deed was done. Hilary took the knife offered and while her faithful accomplice (Jay) held the wings firmly down to the body, she stretched the neck with one hand and with a few quick saws beheaded the chicken with the other. The body writhed, wriggled and squaked but to no avail as Jay's grip held firm, preventing what would have been an unfortunate escape. Hilary then completed the task of plucking and dressing then handed the job over to Jay to braai (grill) the meat. DELICIOUS!!! How comforting it is to know exactly where your dinner is coming from. Hilary made chocolate cake in celebration.
Our anniversary was Monday, July 28th and this was the gift our family bestowed on us. A gift we will never forget. Jay met the dawn on Monday with a plate full of fresh pancakes and homemade syrup. Breakfast in bed for Hilary. We then had class followed by a run that included saving a Swazi man from certain death as he used two teetering stones as the jack for his car and then proceeded to climb all the way under the wheel well. Jay offered whatever help he could but in the end we had to go as the sun was setting and it's a cardinal sin to be out after dark. We were met at home with the chicken and within the hour dinner was ready. We shared the evening with our family and then retired to our room to study. All in a day's work. Moral of the story...never question the validity of the statement, "running around like a chicken with it's head cut off."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Walala Wasala, "you snooze you lose"

A foreign concept here due to the symphony of animal sounds the Africa night brings. Don't let that give you romantic notions of roaring lions and trumpeting elephants. No my friends, even lions wouldn't tread on the ground of these barnyard animals gone bad. After a night of lunar serenades, the dawn generally breaks with a climactic encore, featuring none other than Pavarati, the warbling rooster; who seems to have swallowed a new bag of marbles every night. Thus the daily soundtack ensues, and what a joyful compilation it is. Today we shop for the food we begin cooking for ourselves tomorrow. Though we've enjoyed the immersion into the local maize cuisine, we look foward to the freedom ou own stove povides. One of the most delightful discoveries we've made here in the Likotapeni. What some of you westerners would recognize as the beloved avocado, only 3x's the size and 1/8 the price, or free if your family grows them along with fresh bananas and oranges. GLORIOUS!! Oh, the little joys of life!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So life has been slowly but surely moving along. We are now with our host training families, enjoying learning all that Swaziland has to offer. Language has proven to be an obstacle to overcome but with hard work and dedication will no doubt make it's way into our brains. Our family is amazing. Hilary has learned to wash the clothes and cook all the traditional swazi meals. Jay has integrated quite well into Swazi male life, especially in partaking in Swazi cuisine, cow head. Only males are allowed to enjoy this delicacy (Hilary was not dissappointed at this fact). We have loved recieving all your letters and emails. They are extremely encouraging. After training we will have more time to elaborate on life so please bear with us for the next 5 weeks. If you would like to send mail, send it to the following...
Hilary Jackson, PCV
P.O. Box 2797
Mbabane H100
Swaziland, AFRICA
you could also put Jay Jackson...

We love you all and miss you! Keep us in your prayers as you are in ours!
Hilary and Jay

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Just a quick update before we leave the country.

Our final evening in this great nation of ours was spent well. We went to the place of its foundation, saw Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, tipped our symbolic hats and said adieu by eating a cheeseburger. We leave for Africa tomorrow with the other 34 members of our training group to begin our training. The last two days have been spent getting to know what the Peace Corps is and who we will be spending our time with, both of which we are truly pleased with and excited about. This is the point where our contact becomes a bit sporadic, but we will let everyone know how the elephant caravan to our training center goes as soon as we get the chance.

Much Love,

Jay and Hil

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Countdown

Well we are upon it. Less than 48 hours and we will be on our way to staging...less than a week and we'll be sitting in a room somewhere in Swaziland. Packing proved to be an obstacle in and of itself that was matched only by the distress of losing our address book. Still not found we have 2 days to replace the addresses...don't be sad if you don't get a letter for a while. Anyhow, with anticipation we await our departure.