Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This is It: The Final Sprint!

Hey Friends, Family, and Foreigners!

The race is almost here! Once again, I am truly in awe at your generosity and support of this charity Longtom Marathon!


I leave for Mpumalanga on Thursday to prepare for the race. I’m hydrating, stretching, carb-loading, and of course, praying! (I’ve never ran 21k in my life. Why not start now??)


The current total that you’ve helped me raise for the KLM Foundation is still $1,155.00 (no other donations were made last week). That must mean that you all dug WAY deep to the bottoms of your pockets and purses, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.


There are only two days left, and if you are one of those that likes to be one of the last contributing donations to just put us over the top, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE!


The Final Challenge : $1,500. That’s $345.00 to raise in two days’ time. Can we do it? With your help we can!

Please consider donating if you haven’t already. It’s not too late! Click Here to Donate!

This is equivalent to the last leg of the race—the big push! Let’s sprint it out and finish strong! For the learners of South Africa. Salang Sentle—Stay Well

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fantastic Fundraising Feat!


I am astounded—absolutely amazed at your generosity!

Believe it or not, but in the last week, another $390 were raised (in seven days!)

That brings the fundraising grand total to $1,155.00!

I cannot believe it, myself. Thank you all so much for digging deep!

P1110027 (240x180)I received an update on the KLM overall fundraising: turns out with your help,  we’re closing the gap between last year’s total of $13,000 but still far from 2008’s total of $21,000.

We all know the biggest push in marathoning (fundraising or running) comes just before the finish line. That finish line is right around the corner, less than 2 weeks away! So please, if you have been considering giving something, please consider giving now.




P1100874 (240x180)It’s another Monday morning for many of you—if you’re looking for a way to avoid having to make that morning communal coffee for you and your coworkers, look busy (as well as give an incredible gift of education to a disadvantaged child) by hopping online here to donate! If they ask you to make the coffee, you can say, “Sorry, I’m busy giving education to a child in South Africa.” They’ll probably go make the coffee.




To read more on the KLM Foundation:

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Salang Sentle—Stay Well

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Animal House

Hello there and welcome to another installment of my weblog. Today I’d like to share with you all things that go bump in the night…and day. A lighter side of my blog.

So, for those readers that don’t particularly like bugs and creepy-crawlies or pictures of such, this is your warning for the content ahead. Don’t say I didn’t tell you, so….let’s begin!

We’ll start off pretty cute and cuddly. What’s so harmless about a baby chick?P1090770240x180_thumb4 Nothing. Absolutely harmless. It’s the momma you gotta watch out for. See her eyeing the camera down? Evil, pure evil.P1090780240x180_thumb5 That’s all the warning she usually gives me before she freaks out and attacks me. Yeah, she confronts you with no reservations, cussing you out! Even if I’m just trying to squeeze by, she goes berserk. I’ve had my run-ins with Momma and she doesn’t take kindly to me. If no chicks are around, she’s no threat. However, once they’re hatched…boy, watch out. I’ve actually been charged by her a few times (not kidding!) …wings flailing, running and screaming…(that was me, not Momma). I’d say I was the bigger chicken.

Next in line is my pal, the rooster. When I first arrived, it was very obvious that he was very apprehensive of me. For the first few weeks of me moving in, many times I’d be sitting outside; I’d see him peak his head around the corner, then just stare at me, checking me out and eyeing me down. I swear he saw my soul. I’ve never had a bird check me out that intensely. But that’s all over now.

These days, we have a love-hate relationship:

P1100039240x1802_thumb5he loves to cockadoodle-doo, and I hate it.

In all honesty, I actually do have great admiration for him (I know, he’s just a bird, but still…): he is able to crow (actual verb is crow, not cockadoodle-doo like I thought) at roughly the same time every morning…without a Timex! It’s uncanny. Nearly 5 o’clock in the morning, every morning—every morning—rain or shine, he’s up and ready to wake me up, too. I have no idea how he does it, because the sun’s not even out yet. I think he must be counting or cheating somehow.

And I gotta give this guy even more props: he defends his hens and his turf to the extreme. I’ve never seen so much determination. I got to witness a cock-fight between him and the neighboring cock at the Mongwaketse residence (my host family’s surname). Guess who won. Yeah, Mongwaketses: 1, neighboring challenger: 0. Get outta here, cock. Get off our property.

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He’s also pretty generous, too. When searching for food in the yard, if he finds something, instead of hoarding it to himself, he immediately clucks in a certain tone and all the hens come running, he backs away and points with his beak what he found. Chivalry is not dead.

(Please note: I do not spend my days observing roosters. But, they are pretty impressive. I don’t have a name for the rooster yet—any good names to offer?)





Goat-farts are funny.




Seriously, they are one of the funniest sounds I’ve ever heard in my life. I can’t help but burst out laughing like an immature, 12-year old boy that just heard a whoopee-cushion go off. When I walk down the road and hear a goat-fart, I lose it. They brighten my day.P1100678180x240_thumb4

Donkeys are everywhere. And their crude behaviour is almost as funny as goat farting, but not quite. When they bray, they stick their jaw out and expose their teeth like idiots. Then, they chase after some other donkey with their face posed like that—not menacing at all, just freakin’ hilarious.

I haven’t been able to take a donkey seriously yet.





This little guy is pretty funny looking, too. Like someone decided to make a life-sized stuffed-animal.





This khudu (Setswana for tortoise) became my hissing, peeing friend after my neighbors found him on the road and said I should take him back. I tried to keep him in our fenced in yard, but I found out the next day that tortoises can dig. He no longer lives in the yard.






Ahh! Lion!




No, we don’t all have lions living in our back yards or as pets. This one was just very well trained. He can hold a pose for…well, forever. You never have to walk him either.

This is my family’s newest lion. His name is Takeaway and as a puppy, was extremely disproportionate. He’s grown out of his awkwardness now. (For reference, takeaway is the South African term for “carry-out.” His brother’s name is Mealie Meal, a South African corn meal brand.)


OK, on to the creepy crawlies…again, the weak of heart and strong of grossedoutness should turn away now and stop reading.


This one you’ve already seen/read about in the previous vacation blog. My elementary learners actually just found another scorpion (pepe) the other day on the school grounds and were taking turns killing it. How nice.


Dung Beetles: what a weird concept—a beetle that needs to roll a piece of dung for hours on end, upside-down at that! How do they know where they are going!?


What a strange looking bug. It looks like it should be in a sci-fi movie or something. I wish I had spikes coming out of my back like that. No one would mess with me… It kinda reminds me of Beetle Juice in that one scene where Michael Keaton gets all spiky. This one was sitting on my front door screen today.


Black mamba…spectacular. But, I just thank God that I have 12x optical zoom. I didn’t feel like getting much closer. I didn’t think we’d be good friends. Just a hunch.




This one will take some explaining…

This is called a Solifugae, or Sun Scorpion or Sun Spider.

The story starts before I ever met the likes of this beast. When I first arrived, I found two small solifugae that went zipping through my house a few weeks before. I was fascinated with them, so I grabbed the can of bug spray (called DOOM, here--it seriously does damage. It could kill a small mammal) and went after them. I killed them and kept them. I don’t know why, maybe I wanted to practice taxidermy or something weird like that, I don’t know. But really, any unknown African insect is pretty cool.

So for weeks I was believing the ones I found were big insects...but none compared to this one I found, pictured here. This one was as big as the palm of my hand!!

I was outside at night, chit-chatting with my host brother, Tebogo. I saw something running by the wall and thought it was a mouse. Once we realized what it was, my host brother stunned it by stepping on it. We thought it was dead. I took it into my house and…(somewhat embarrassed to say), I started photographing it like it was a runway model (how else would I have gotten these photos?); then it started twitching. It came back from the dead. I sprayed it with Doom. It still twitched, even more this time. Then, it's beak-like claw-teeth started moving and pinching. I Doom-ed it again. It started moving it's legs. That's when I Doom-ed it yet again. It wouldn't die!!!

I finally got done taking pictures and covered it with a bowl and sprayed some Doom under it to leave it for the morning. It was dead when I woke up. But, believe it or not, it still wouldn't give up that had one more trick up it’s sleeve.

I thought this giant insect was pretty fascinating, so I mounted it like wild game on the wall (I know that sounds extremely weird, but I have to explain that I live alone and everything I do is a good, normal idea by majority vote). I thought I was pretty cool for having defeated a monster-insect. Let me just tell you now that it didn't go without a fight, even after death. I was told these things are harmless, which I found is mostly true. This is how the final battle went down between man and beast:

The next night, I decided to watch a movie. My prize was mounted on the nearby wall. (Mistake #1.) Earlier that day, the window was left open for ventilation, letting some flies inside. (Mistake #2). To get the full effect of the movie, I turned off the lights. (Mistake #3.) All was going well in the movie, when I heard, then felt, a buzzing around me. I hate flies. I mean, I really hate flies. I always imagine they can sense when I'm most aggravated and that's when they dive-bomb me like a kamikaze pilot or land on the back of my neck, tickling me in a very flirtatious way. (I don’t like being flirted with by a fly.) After about 15 minutes of clenching my teeth out of irritation, I got upset. (Mistake #4.) In the darkness, I swatted at the fly with my hands waving violently like a madman--stupid and pointless, I know. (Mistake #5.) At one moment, when I thought I had him located on the wall, I whipped my hand against the wall as hard as I could--SPLAT! Nope; I didn't get the fly, but it did go splat. I got something else instead...Had I been paying just a little bit of attention to my surroundings, I would have remembered my prize mounted on the wall. (Final mistake…)
Not only was it a mess on the wall and on my hand, but I found out through experience that these solifugae have tiny thistle-like hairs that stick up all over their body. AND, I also discovered that these remain irritating even after the creature is dead.

So, for the rest of the night, I watched my movie with the lights on while carefully plucking out tiny, thistle-like hairs from the palm of my hand, which was now sore from both the impact with the wall and the irritating hairs that buried themselves into my epidermis.

I threw the solifugae outside and a chicken ate it.

It won the battle, but I won the war; that stupid bug is no more. The End.


P1110736240x180_thumbI had the joy of waking up a few times with small, individual, mystery blisters (I'm now up to 7 over a few nights). If you’ve ever experienced the same, then you've been visited by the Blister Fairy!

This harmless-looking, flying bug came in small numbers back in the end of January. Now they’re here in masses, buzzing around the back yard in the green brush all day. At night, they like to come inside and visit me. They are busy whispering sweet nothings into my ear and trying to tuck me into bed.

Also known as the Blister Beetle, these little pests secrete a liquid that causes a chemical burn on your skin. Totally harmless, but really freakin' annoying.


P1110834240x180_thumb7Since they only like me when I'm sleeping, I never knew what they looked like. They're a flying insect about an inch long at most, and have a skinny body with a red neck and usually a red head.


So, all of you in South Africa, join me in the fight against blister beetle terror: get out your can o' Doom and have at it. I know I will--they're a pain in my skin.


P1110843240x180_thumb8These aren’t insects, below, but probably one of the most despised plants I’ve ever encountered. These are small thorn-pods that fall off the bushes growing in my back yard (on the path to the pit toilet). Whenever I walk to the toilet, I end up tracking dozens of them back into my house under my shoes.


P1110836240x180_thumb10They then sit and wait in my carpet or on my cement floor until morning when I’m nice and groggy as I roll out of bed. Almost daily, I stand up directly on one of these in the morning and it feels like you are putting full pressure on a miniature tack under your foot! And the barbs are irritating even after you pluck it out. What a way to wake up. Who needs coffee?


This was a pretty neat looking moth. I affectionately named him Mr. Confetti.






Final story for this post…

As I was getting some eggs out of the carton for my Sunday morning pancakes, I reached for them on the floor under my cooking table (we can keep our eggs unrefrigerated out here, don’t worry, they last); I saw this scorpion sneak away, inches from my fingers and run under my mini-fridge! Haha, WOAH! freaked the heck outta me! So, I did what any stupid person does and went after it to catch it (alive!). I did, however, arm myself by taking off my sandals (they call them slops here, and yes, I was wearing sandals when initially confronted by the scorpion) and put on my leather shoes in case he decided to make a run for my toes in a moment of panic (most people go for the toes when panicking, so I’ve heard). I thought to spray under the fridge a few times with some Doom to try to coax him out. He didn't want to show. So, adrenaline kicking in, I tore away the fridge, armed with a glass jar and two big size-12 shoes on my feet... just in case :) I found him cowering in the corner, which made it really easy to put the glass jar over him. P1110855240x180_thumb5Then, I flipped the jar over and then I had a jar of scorpion. He got really upset when I put him in there. tail striking the jar and everything. But he was still a bit dazed and confused by the bug spray. In the end, I was outside of the jar and he was inside. So, I won.



PETA’s going to come after me, I swear. ◊ Salang Sentle—Stay Well

Monday, March 8, 2010

Weekly Goal Achieved!

Ke a lo leboga thata! (Thank you all!)

P1100774 (480x360) (2)

Thank you, thank you, thank you! We not only met the $500 weekly goal, but blew right past it! This morning, I was given the most recent update: $765 to date! It’s so amazing to see such generosity! So, sincerely, I thank each and every one of you that has helped so far. You can imagine how your donations directly impacts the academic life of a young child. Maybe your donation will buy their uniform; maybe it will buy books and school supplies, or maybe it will be for school fees.

I’m happily at a loss for words--I don’t know what to say other than let’s keep going!

It looks like I miscalculated the potential of giving! In one week, you helped raise $460 alone! That’s absolutely incredible!

This week, let’s go straight for $1050! That’s only $285 to raise by the end of this weekend.

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The reason for the continued push? This year, KLM fundraising is still shy of their average contributions by a few thousand dollars. They’ve really asked us to pull out all the stops so that the benefiting school children can continue to get the quality education they deserve! It’s all for them.

Again, here are those links…

To DONATE online:

To read more on the KLM Foundation:

If you’re on the fence or possibly considering it, please think about contributing whatever is affordable to you—any amount helps!. ◊ Salang Sentle—Stay Well

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Few Minutes, A Few Dollars

I first want to say Thank You!! to all of those who’ve taken a few minutes and a few dollars to contribute to the annual KLM Foundation Longtom Marathon—to help raise money to send disadvantaged children to a superior secondary school, allowing them an opportunity for education they may not have had without your help!

March is now here, meaning at the end of this month I will be running with several dozen other Peace Corps Volunteers for this cause (that’s only 4 weeks away!).

I’m at $305.00 so far—my goal by March 27th is $1050.00! (That’s $50 to raise per km for my 21km half-marathon.)

My goal for the end of this week is $500.00! Can you help me get there!?

For those saying they’d like to give and will get around to it, please check it off your to-do list today! It’s a Monday and I’m sure many of you are at work, looking for any excuse not to get to those TPS reports that should have been done Friday.

If so, please follow this link and spend a few minutes and a few dollars toward this great cause!

If you want to know more about what this is, please see my previous blog posting here.


A BIG THANK YOU AGAIN to all those who’ve already contributed!

(PS: There should be another blog that I posted called Animal House. However, an email didn’t go out for some reason. Technical Difficulties…) ◊ Salang Sentle—Stay Well