How I Met My Host-Mother. . .

After having been at our site for nearly 6 months, our host-mother shows up one day completely unannounced out of the blue.  After initially arriving at our permanent site, we were told by one of our Principals who arranged the housing for us, that our host-mother is not living on the property. She is a single woman who owns the property but she had recently moved to a bigger city and found a boyfriend.  So instead, her nephew has been living in the main house in order to take care of the property. Well, one day I was sitting outside reading a book with a group of girls who sometimes come over to our house after school for story time, and suddenly a woman carrying a bunch of groceries and luggage shows up at the main house.  After putting her things in the main house, she pulls up a chair and comes to sit outside with me and the girls. Then she announces her name to me as if I am supposed to know who she is. We talked for a bit, mind you that my xiTsonga (Shangaan) is not that good and neither is her English. But, I'm starting to understand that she is not just a regular visitor. Suddenly she gets up and wants to look inside our house. She had heard through her family that live in the village that the schools had installed a drain in our wash room as well as wiring the house with electricity. So, she was curious to see what it looked like. But at that point I was profoundly confused why this woman just blatantly walked into our house as if she owned it... Well, it turns out that she does own it.  So, I get up following her into the house and thinking “W w w wait, who are you again?!” I wish I would have known that she was coming, then I would have cleaned the house.

After a week or so of her arrival, one day, she baked us some biscuits and brought them over to us. So, in exchange, the next day we baked her some banana bread and returned her plate to her. She enjoyed the banana bread so much that she wanted to learn how to make it. So, we went shopping at our nearest shopping town and picked up some of the ingredients for her. After returning from the store, I then went over to her house and gave her a lesson on baking banana bread.  She was also very happy with us after Woody was able to fix her refrigerator because it was – in her words quote “fuckt'up.”  Its been very strange these past few weeks getting acquainted with her after 6 months of not seeing or meeting her and having lived very independently on our own. But, so far, I guess it's going well... She even told me the other day, “Rirhandzu (my Shangaan name) you are a funny.”



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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.