28 December 2012
Christmas is such a great time of year. We get to spend time with family, eat good food, play in the snow, exchange gifts, and decorate the house. Unfortunately, we are now going on our second Christmas in the Kingdom of Swaziland – a place where all of those things are hard to come by (especially the snow – it is over 90 degrees inside our house this evening).
Last year, we spent Christmas at Hlane Royal National Park – we got a good meal and had a really choppy Skype conversation by candle-light with our families back home. While we enjoyed being able to walk with rhinos on our first Christmas here, we decided to try and make our second Christmas away a little more festive.
We bought each other gifts and even wrapped them with scraps of wrapping paper we’ve saved from gifts sent in a package last January. Rebecca set up decorations all over the house – made from Christmas cards and gift tags we’ve saved. And we even had a dancing meerkat with a santa hat to help us get in the Christmas spirit. We planned to spend the holiday here at home, and loaded up on internet time to ensure we were able to Skype more successfully this year.
Our plan started to hit bumps the Saturday before Christmas. Our electricity meter was practically reading zero. We decided we could stretch the few remaining units just long enough to get to our Skype dates on Christmas, but that meant living without a fan, lights, or recharging our computer. Then on Sunday two things happened which dramatically changed our plans for the holiday. Our gas tank ran out (which we use to cook) and we got invited by some fellow Peace Corps Volunteers to stay with them at a house near the capital for the holiday.
While our trip went with all the usual anxiety and challenges of traveling out of our community, it was well worth it. It is still difficult to spend the holiday so far away from the people we care most about, but it was great to spend it with several friends that we’ve made since beginning this adventure. Besides a great time with friends, the house had almost all the amenities one would expect in America – running water, hot showers, toilets, a stove/oven, and satellite TV. We had a wonderful meal and even hung socks over the fireplace which we filled with small candies and trinkets for each other. In addition, the house had plenty of electricity units which allowed us to Skype without a problem.
Even our trip back home went off without a hitch. We were able to load up on electricity units, bought another gas canister, got groceries, and even found a khumbi we were able to convince to take us all the way to our t-junction. From the T-junction, our walk is only 2 km – but even there one of our school’s teachers drove by and gave us a ride all the way to school.
Unfortunately that is where the good feelings ended. Our 1,000 liter rain-water tank which had been over-flowing from the rains of the past few months was once again emptied. We’re not sure if it was a person, animal, or something else that caused the tap to come off and release all of our drinking water for the next few months into our yard, but I’ve made the best repairs I can and we are praying for rain. Ideally we’ll be able to collect some more before our back-up supply runs out, but this serves as yet another reminder of how even the best-laid plans can fall apart here in the Kingdom.
With or without the convince of our rain-water, we’re committed to making the best of these last few months of our service and returning home to spend next Christmas in Wisconsin – there had better be snow!
Rebecca is reading: Game of Thrones IV
Oliver is watching: Shark Tank, Season 4