Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hey Everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve written, thought I should update. Hope everyone is doing well. Things in the southern hemisphere have been good. I just got back to my village from a two week break which separates term 1 and term 2. The break was really good. It started with the marathon fundraiser which took place in Sabie, Mpumalanga, about 6 hours from my village. It’s a beautiful mountainous area which provided gnarly views and even gnarlier hills for the marathon. I ran/walked the 21km (13 mile) half marathon with my friend Elise. We skipped across the finish line, arms linked, at 3 hours and 2 minutes. It was a lot of fun. There were stations every few km where people would hand out water, powerade, coke, and sometimes candy. I was quite confused as to why anyone would want coke while they were running a marathon, but I definitely took the candy every time. Crazy people who actually trained for the marathon got in around 2 hours (some were under 2), and the super slackers who walked the whole thing and stopped for beer at one of the water stations did it in over 4 hours, so I figure we were in the middle-ish. In addition to the half marathon there was also the ultra marathon which was 56 km (34 miles), and 6 or 7 super crazies from our group did it. The fastest guy from our group did it in 5 hours and 30 minutes. Dude’s crazy. All he does is run. To compare, the slowest guy from our group did it in about 8 hours. Our 60 person Peace Corps group all stayed at a hostel which was a lot of fun. It was cool meeting and hanging out with people from other PC groups.

So anyway, from Sabie I headed to Pretoria with Elise and another girl, Gabi. We hung out for 3 days then they both left for trips and that night Mike got in, and we hung out for 3 more days, then it was off to a fancy hotel for a week long training which was put on by PEPFAR, and they’re not afraid to spend money on us. One night there was a gala dinner in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps. It was pretty cool.

Then I got back to the village and the pit latrine (outhouse). I’m used to it now, but it’s crazy how close these 1st world cities and 3rd world villages are to each other. Pretoria is like any big city with tons of nice restaurants, movie theaters, parks, malls, hotels. But then you leave the city and not even 30 minutes away are super poor villages with shacks, half built houses that people live in anyway, pit latrines, shoe-less kids, intermittent electricity, and goats and cows walking around. It’s pretty crazy, and apparently one of the reasons that South Africa has one of the highest drop out rates in Peace Corps. It’s disturbing how you go from a place with everything to a place with almost nothing in a couple hours. But, I must say, it’s a nice break to be able to hang out in Pretoria once in a while, see a movie, eat out, use indoor toilets. Having cities like Pretoria, Durban, and Cape Town in country means we can visit them any break and they’re not too far away. This makes Peace Corps South Africa a completely different experience from Peace Corps in the rest of Africa, as medical patients who are sent here from all over Africa like to point out. But getting back from vacation this time it was easier to readjust to the village again than the last time, so that’s good.

Alright, catch you later.


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