Some of the best quotes I’ve gathered since coming to my village.
SA CD: Now I think to myself, ‘am I being culturally insensitive, or is this guy a jerk?’
RPCV, on how to tell our PC stories: Talking about pooping in a hole for two years isn’t going to resonate with people in the suburbs in Texas…
SSC, while showing a powerpoint about safety: Oh, and there’s some zombie ready to grab the volunteers!
RPCV: I think my re-entry to America was a little different. I left single and came back married and with a cat.
SSC: on changing the approach to safety and security training: Some really smart people came to us and said “No, you’re terrifying the volunteers. The PC is not a military organization, so why are militarizing our volunteers?”
PCMO: In keeping with our division of labor, the other PCMO will be here tomorrow to talk about the touchy-feeling stuff, and I’ll talk about the technical stuff today.
Principal, to the other teachers: And now we’ve come to the bad news. Maybe you will think it’s good news. Jen will be leaving us soon.
Me (thinking): Good news?? What have I been doing here for two years?!
Me: I’ve got the chilis and garlic to make the pest control spray.
Counterpart: No, I sprayed it yesterday. I got some onions and peri peri (a fairly mild spice) and made it.
Me: I don’t think that will work.
Me, about the printer (from hell): Mme mokgoro use to beat it. Must I beat it?
Me: There’s a warthog in the bathroom.
On a sign a beggar was holding: Wife kidnapped by ninjas. Need R40 for ninja lessons.
A teacher, about termintes: The one with the pinchers. I’d cook them, rip the head from the body, then eat the head.
PCV: He was so adamant that this was a 9 seater! (There were 16 people in the kombi at that point).)
South African friend: There was this guy who ate too many carrots and has red hair.
Me: Where the hell did your school get a banjo from?
PCV: I’m from Appalachia!!
PCV, about another PCV: His greatest accomplishment was eating an entire can of beans without utensils.
South African friend: I am going to listen to this crap. (AKA Karaoke)
Trilling screams and hallelujahs from the principal’s office.
Teacher: You know what this means?
Me: You are really happy. Why?
Teacher: They are bringing a cow to be slaughtered!
New Teacher: I want three things for my class next year. 1. A notice board. 2. A carpet. 3. Hooks for the learners bags.
Principal: We are not a Model C school. (Relics of Apartheid, but amazing public schools that have money.)
Teacher: You look so Venda today.
Me: Venda? Why?
Teacher; Your earrings and your clothes and the colors.
Me: Ok….ndi macheloni! (Good morning in Venda)
Teachers: *explode in laughter*
Grade R teacher hands out scissors to all the learners: They are going to cut the grass.
Me: *laughs hysterically*
South African friend:…but I don’t know which type of spitting cobras we have here.
Me: There is more than 1 type?!
Teacher: These question papers (exams) are too simple.
Principal: Maybe the learners will fail softly then.
Me: What I took away from it: don’t sleep with another man’s woman, or you will lose an arm.
Grade 5 Learner: I learned about vampires in Natural Science class today. They like the full moon.
4 Year Old: If you happy happy happy, clap your body. (Happy And You Know It Song)
Me: If you told me to go to the theatre here, I would go to the cinema (movies) and not the hospital. And that could be a problem. (Theatre refers to the operating theatre)
PCV: He says he won’t walk home with a torch (flashlight) because people will throw rocks at it. For sport.
Principal: I’ve found you a boyfriend.
Me: Oh really. Who?
Principal: He says he was on a taxi with you from Vryburg once.
Principal: You see this man is drunk, even so early in the morning.
Me: Then I’m gonna hide in the staffroom before he proposes to me.
Me: That’s what drunk men normally do.
Me reading from a medical questionnaire: How do you treat your water?
PCV: With respect!!
Principal: I am going to ask you something, but I must just think of how to ask it.
(A little while later)
Me: Do you have a question for me yet?
Principal: Yes. At your sister’s wedding, didn’t you get yourself a boyfriend or something?
PCV: So guess what? I’ve got schisto! (A parasite)
PCMO: (before even saying hello) Why do you still have your wisdom teeth?!
Me: I think summer is coming.
Principal: Summer has just come itself. It did not send its brother or cousins or uncles. It came personally!
Upon seeing my host dad and sister skinning a dead animal in the garage:
Me: “What is it?”
Sister: “Nku” Sheep
Dad: “It is dead.”
Me: “I can see that.”
Me via BBM to another PCV: “Let’s pretend they were pit-trapping the spirits, that sounds fun!”
Young Man: “You know why I smoke and drink? I don’t have a woman. If I had a woman, I wouldn’t smoke and drink. Do you want to be my woman?”
Young Man: “You want me to keep smoking and drinking?”
As I was walking to my room at a backpackers in Pretoria with a bundle of rope to hang my hammock.
Employee: “Please don’t hang yourself.”
Teacher: “Why are these birds crying? Do you hear them? They want to eat all our food.”
After I told her about the deworming properties of eating pumpkin seeds-
Principal: “I think even today, 2 or 3 worms will die.”
Me: “You have worms?”
Principal: “I do!”
Young child: *Terrified look*
Teacher to child: “Dumedisa hello.”
Young child: “Hello.”
Me: “How are you?”
Young child: “Today!”
Permaculture lady: “If you are parking your car under a tree, what don’t you want falling out of the tree?”
All South Africans: “Snake!!”
Me: “Fruit!!” (I was right)
Old man: Babbling in Tswana “…Lenyalo…Mosadi!” …Wedding….woman/wife!
Me: “Ga ke tlhaloganye” I don’t understand.
Old man: Babbling in Afrikaans.
Me: “Ga ke bue Afrikaans.” I don’t speak Afrikaans.
Old man: “…..LOVE!”
Me: “Go home.”
Me: “Why did they set the tree on fire last night?”
Host sister: “…crickets.” It was a snake.
Principal to the School Governing Board: “And this lady here is our lekgoannyane” Our little white person.
Me: *Glares at principal*
Man on a taxi: “Hello. I love you.”
Me: “You don’t even know my name! How can you love me?!”
Man: “Can I have your number.”
Me: “No. Now go.”
Permaculture judge: “What makes you stay here?”
PCV: “I decided if I lived in your village, I would have definitely bought a horse!”
Me: “It’s far, right?”
Me in an SMS to another PCV: “I’m glad we’re getting a new toilet, but I’m gonna miss my stone throne!”
PCV: “Stone throne?”
Me: “That’s what I call my latrine.”
South African: “He gets her for free?! He doesn’t have to pay for his wife?!?!”
Principal: “Let me jump into your mouth.”
Me in an SMS: “There is a white guy walking through my village!”
PCV: “What?!?! Follow him!!”
Me: “I am NOT your baby!” *tromps off*
Me: “I think the guy in the leather spanks won the race.”
Teacher: “I am a little bit stressed. He told me he would organize everything and he did not.”
Me: “That’s African time.”
Teacher: *busts out laughing*
PCV: “Sometimes when I want to make myself look better, I make an ugly face in a mirror and then look at my normal face and I am like ‘yeah, I look good.’”
Me: “Is that the pair of pajamas you wore to school?”
Me: “You are my hero.”