Thursday, April 25, 2013

Machetes and Pap

Last weekend, I worked on a community service project removing bugweed from the Malalotja Nature Reserve here in Swaziland. Bugweed is essentially a twenty foot tall stalk, kind of like bamboo, that's from South America, and is invasive to Africa. Mostly, it just sucks out all the water from the ground, which kills the other plants.

So, I was handed a machete (what they called simply a "bush knife") and was told to whack away! It was a really good time - you'd be surprised what good stress relief a machete can be!

As you can see, it was a really rainy day, and we were all definitely soaking wet by the end. Yet, I don't remember the last time I was so sore, wet, cold, and happy all at once. This project was one of my favorite days since getting here :)

Then, last night, my beginner's siSwati class went out to dinner at this Swazi restaurant. The school cafeteria serves Swazi food every Thursday, but it's really not very good, and so to save the reputation of Swazi food, we had to go get some "real" Swazi food. Amazingly, after all my failed attempts at liking the cafeteria's Swazi food, I really, really liked the Swazi food at the restaurant.

Let me describe what we had - I'm sure there are Swazi names for all this stuff, and I'll include the ones I know, and maybe add the rest later. Anyways. I'm starting with the two yellow circles and going clockwise.
  1. Sinkhwa nembila (corn bread) - it's not exactly American corn bread, but it's pretty good. Maize bread, I guess they'd say in English here.
  2. Umbhidvo (spinach) - it's just finely chopped spinach mixed with some other things. I'm not a huge fan, but I can tell that it's good if you like spinach.
  3. Some sort of mashed beans - decent, better if you eat it with the next thing.
  4. Corn and beans - Again, I guess they'd call it maize here, but that still sounds strange to me. This one is my favorite thing. I could live off of this stuff - it's so good. It really doesn't taste like anything else in the world, and I can't even describe it properly, but it's so good. So good.
  5. Liphalishi (pap) - they take maize, peel earn kernel, and mash up the insides. I would compare it to mashed potatoes, and while it looks similar, it's really not at all the same. It's not rubbery, but it is more rubbery than mashed potatoes. Rubbery probably isn't the best word, but when you squish it, it kind of rebounds back, if that makes any sense. It's really popular here, and admittedly, it's pretty good.
And then for desert, we had fried sinkhwa nembila, carrot cake, ice cream with mint sauce, and chocolate cake. It was actually the best thing ever. After having school food for so long, you really, really appreciate outside food, and when someone gives you unlimited, delicious outside food, you eat. And so we did. It was a really, really nice night with some really awesome people. Definitely looking forward to the rest of these two years of classes with the other "ab swats."

Now, I've just got one more day of classes, and then it's FREEDOM for a month! I've finally got all my plans all hammered out, and I'm ready to go! UWC Day is still Saturday though, so I'll probably post something on here about all that, but then Sunday morning, I'll be leaving on a bus, and exploring for the rest of the month!

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