Socks and Underwear

Socks and Underwear: March 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tiger Foot

I dont have time to do a nice long post today so here is a picture of the incredible foot tan Ive been cultivating. My foot covering of choice is a half shoe half sandal (shodals) so as to keep cool and still look like Im making the effort to wear real shoes. The shodals have gaps in the sides which give my feet some wicked stripes. I think it looks pretty cool but most people think I just have dirty feet. I think they're just jealous.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sleep Tight

I havent been sleeping well the past couple of days. It started during a stay in a hotel over the weekend which was intended to help me recharge. I ate a nice meal, enjoyed air conditioning and watched a movie. All-in-all pretty great until a few hours after I went to bed. I was semi-consciously aware that things were crawling or landing on me, which I kept hitting away. Akin to the prank were you tickle someones nose with a hair when they are asleep, theyll scratch without waking up (hilarious, I encourage you to do this immediatly). By this point I am used to beetles or moths running into me in the middle of the night anyhow so I didnt think much of it. Then my mind cleared or woke up a little and I realized I was not in my village and moths and beetles shouldnt be falling on me at a hotel. At this point I managed to grab one of the pests and crushed it between my fingers and found there was too much liquid that came out. When I turned on the light my fingers were stained red with my own blood. Disgusted by my discovery I pulled back the sheets and turned my pillow to find about 20 of what I later found out to be bed bugs. Most were too swollen with blood to make an escape. I collected and then crushed each one and each time there was a tiny burst showing how much was stolen from me.
There was some relief but I was still too alert to sleep so I spent the next hour reading about bed bugs which for some reason managed to be more repulsive to me than ticks or mosquitoes. I think it has to do with the fact that they live were you sleep and attack when your most helpless. Sure mosquitoes can do the same and are certainly worse for mankind but I feel the battle is much more traditional between mosquitoes and humans. We have our army and they have theirs and I think I can say they are winning overall but we are the scrappy underdog that will win in the end. I dont know what bed bugs are playing at. Whats your game bed bug!? Now I have a new enemy that I cant even begin to understand. Apparently they are making a resurgeance in America because of international travel and new drug resistant super breeds. I suggest you start practicing taking micronaps standing in stainless steel cubes.

The rest of the night I would wake up every few hours and catch a few more bugs sluggishly hauling away a feast. Unpleasant indeed but my main fear was that I would accidentally carry some broodlings back with me to my house. It is a total pain for people living in the connected world to try and eradicate an infestation, I wouldnt stand a chance. I would just become the nightly harvest for the rapidly expanding bed bug nest growing in my quarters. So I have been waking up every time a moth or beetle happens to falls on me. I jump out of bed and scrutinize the seems of the bed and the sheets and inside the pillow case. Then I go back to sleep to do it all over again in a few moments.

Otherwise things are pretty neat. The term is wrapping up for which I will have some thoughts later on.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Charity All-Stars

I was informed that earlier this week a substantial donation was submitted in my name for the upcoming charity marathon. The organiser broke procedure because of the size of the donation were usually I would be told at the end of the week of any changes. Upon inspection, the amount was quite large and therefore I feel a special appreciation must be given:

My dear Empitty
Generous aunts from New York
Re a leboga (we thank you)

While I am at it I would like to thank the rest of you who have donated. This is not a particularly easy time for anyone to be giving away money, so extra kudos is due. You have helped South Africas future.

Finally, I am shocked to see that my family is leading the donations followed by friends. There is a lack of representation from complete strangers. I think Maximus from Gladiator said it best when he said "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!?". I have spent many precious Rand from my meager Peace Corps stipend to sate your thirst of PCV life in South Africa. What more do you want from me? Do you want me to wear a silly hat while I walk the half marathon. Do you want me to not wear a silly hat while I walk the marathon? Come on, work with me. So all those who stumble here accidentally looking for South African socks and underwear, you should really donate.

To Donate:

Go to

The donations tab is in the top right

Please fill in my name (Noah Prescott) in the Longtom Marathon section.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chickenus Tasticus

Yesterday my host sister was charged with the task of catching one of the chickens. This is the same host sister who took a nap in the big bowl. Watching her try to catch that animal was very entertaining.

Her first approach, which probably worked in the past, was to lure the chicken into a room with corn kernels and trap it. For whatever reason the chickens would not take the bait and stayed well away from the threshold of the house. Perhaps they have noticed that those that follow the trail into the room dont come back. In any case the chickens won that round but the war was not over.

Her next attempt was to wait in the shade perfectly still with a pile of kernels near her. After watching her set up I turned my attention to my book figuring that it would be some time before anything unfolds. Sure enough the chickens were wary but their appetite demanded they at least try for the pile of feed. All I saw and heard was the aftermath. The chickens were fleeing in all directions and my host sister was face down in the dirt. I imagine the chickens got pretty close but she played her hand too soon, she lunged for one but it was too quick and all she got was a big armfull of air and a facefull of soil. I am glad she was laughing at herself because I was not doing a good job of masking my laughter.

At this point she walked out of sight. I figured she needed time to recover, plan and let the chickens lower their guard. Once again I started to read. It was maybe five minutes later that I heard a chicken raising hell coming my way around the corner of the house with my host sister running after it. At top speed they rounded the far corner of the house and they were out of sight. I could still hear the chase and followed with my eyes as if I could see through the house. Right on cue they turned the corner coming towards me. At this point my host sitser started shouting "O lepile!" "youre tired!". I think she was saying it more for her own benefit, to convince herself that the chicken wouldnt escape again. They made another full circle around the house both shouting things at each other. I was upset to see my own live-action Wile E Coyote come to an end but she eventually ran down the chicken. Triumphently she hauled her catch to its doom.

You would think this story would have occured in the reverse with the blunt force tactic failing first and then finesse winning in the end but I guess thats not always the case. Next time I will propose she try the "box supported by a stick tied to a string with her on the other end of the string and some corn under the box" method.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Creature Feature

Although I am around animals much more than any other time in my life, I have yet to be aquinted with the animals that Africa is best known for, such as the big five (pop quiz - name the five). There have been some sightings here and there from taxis but nothing astounding. I have yet to have the lion showdown or monkey battle Ive been hoping for but there is certainly plenty to see and appreciate. There are occasionally an exotic bird or two and many lizards to enjoy. Even the farm animals hold a certain charm despite their many attempts to irritate me to my breaking point.

The largest reminder that I am a stranger in a strange land (ecosystem-wise) are the arthropods. Really just the spiders and insects but they are legion. For example, I never knew how totally overwhelming ants could be. Almost every morning my host mother is out in the yard raking down the half foot tall ant nests that form over night. I have already mentioned that they can kill baby animals but they also destroy crops and can be torture to anyone unlucky enough to be standing on the ground. This is their land and we humans occasional try to grow tasty things close by or walk near their cities. They are even starting to invade my room. There is a crack in the cement that they have discovered and are coming through. I dripped candle wax to seal the crack but I may have to turn to chemical warfare if they insist on claiming my tiny living quarters as their own.

I have also been fascinated by the dung beetle. What a glorious adaptation, albeit somewhat gross. The dung beetles business is dung and business is booming in my village. So I am all for the beetle that diligently rolls the mess up into little balls and takes it off into the bush. I for one appreciate the effort. Thanks little guy.

There are more examples but the last one I will mention is the praying mantis. I sometimes leave my door open after sunset to cool off my room. The trade off is that the light attracts unwanted pests, so I tried to make a screen to curb the invasion. It is not 100% effective but it helps enough. Anyhow one night the bugs were getting caught in the net and all was fine. Them I heard a loud "thud" against the burglar bars. The biggest praying mantis Ive ever seen came for a meal. She had plenty of trapped moths and flies to easily devour and was doing a fine job of clearing the net. I looked up the praying mantis on wikipedia out of interest and it told me that they were considered gods of the Khoi and San people who are some of the most ancient peoples on Earth. There are still some that live nearby and in Namibia and Botswana. At one time they may have even lived in this same area that I live and breath in now. I feel proud to have given offering even if it was only incidental.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


No, that is not a miniature version of my host sister taking a nap in a normal size bowl. It is my life-sized host sister taking a nap in an enormous bowl! I find that my host family and I are a good match more and more each day. I can totally relate to the desire to take a nap in a giant bowl. Eventually, I would like to take back a bowl like that so I can eat a truly frightening amount of cereal without having to waste time and energy constantly refilling like I would have to with a puny standard bowl. And then when I am all tuckered out and lapse into a cereal coma, I can sleep it off in my gigantic bowl.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Halloween in March

Once again, I visited the volunteer couple closest to me. It has proven itself to be a very enjoyable way to spend the weekend time and time again.

This past visit I brought over the only pumpkin that grew in my garden as a gift. I couldnt honestly say that I would do more with it than eat the seeds and I figured my friends would get much more use out of it, so it was an easy choice. The runners up to this decision were to make a jack o lantern, which may have convinced my neighbors I was insane, or make a helmet out of it, which may have also convinced my neighbors I was insane. Instead I decided to convince my friends neighbors I was insane. Inspired by a Jack Handy quote, I decided to leave the pumpkin on my friends doorstep as seen in the picture. My plot was foiled since I was seen laying the threat but it was still worth it. Theres always next years pumpkin harvest to get it right.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Happy Trails

On this day last year I began the AT. Happy "March Forth" (get it)! I was planning on including some of my choice pictures from the trek alas the computer is still down so youll just have to wait until next year.

I enjoyed the hike and wish I could have finished it. I think there is something about me that is inclined to simple jobs. My job when backpacking was to walk, my job now is to do good. Hiking is similar to living in my village in other ways too: pit toilets, extended periods between bathing, walking everywhere. Ill certainly be well seasoned to give it another go when I get back. Hurray for backpacking!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Today was a pretty typical school day right up until it was time to leave. All the teachers, including myself, were called for a meeting in the staff room. We were all told that it was the last day of one of the teachers at the school. She had gotten another teaching job at a school elsewhere in the province. Unfortunately for the school she was one of the best and the only maths teacher.

While I am sad to see her go, I am a little suprised and somewhat annoyed in how she left or at least how her leaving was handled. How is it that the she feels comfortable and the school allows her to leave with a single days notice? This is sure to put a sudden end to the little math the learners have absorbed so far. Even if a teacher were to be hired tomorrow, which wont happen, the remaining time in the term would be devoted to getting settled and getting aquinted with the school and her new classes. I have been told that the district office will attempt to fill in the position in the interim with a substitute but Ill believe that when I see it. I may have inherited the schools math position at least until the end of the term.

Monday, March 1, 2010


South Africa has some pretty interesting advertisements. Both in the sense that they are appealing to people who are swayed by different messages than in America and because I think they get away with things that wouldnt fly in America. That is really only tangentially involved with what I mean to show in this post. That being said here are two utterly bizarre product labels.

A label for salt. As you can see a boy is chasing after a live chicken trying to pour salt over it. The caption below reads "see how it runs". How did this pass as the symbol and slogan for this company? Not that salt really needs catchy advertising or branding but this doesnt even make sense. Are they trying to sell us on the easy pouring capabilities of the salt while cleverly referencing the strange chicken hungry boy? Surely this boy isnt planning on taking a big bite out of that chicken as soon as he gets it. His strategy is wildly inappropriate, salting the chicken is many steps down the line. All I can think to say to this misguided, salt wasting youth is "youre doing it wrong" but perhaps "youre creepy and stop tormenting that chicken" would do better. Additionally I would hope that this salt company respects its customers more than to think we can easily be tricked into salting the animals while they are still alive in an effort to increase salt usage and therefore profits. And if by chance, one were to be tricked into mimicking the label out of pure curiosity, they would find that while the animals did indeed run away when salted and the container did pour the salt quite well, it just wasnt worth the effort in the end. For shame! Salt is pretty ok though.

Ive found it! Perhaps the greatest label of all time. The product was unexpected but who says baking soda cant have a great label (salt companies everywhere should learn from this find example)? Unfortunately the power is somewhat lessened because I happened to get the foil package rather than the tin but nevertheless. The symbol for Royal Baking Powder is a picture of a tin of Royal Baking Powder. If one were to inspect further, the symbol on the symbol is indeed another picture of the Royal Baking Powder tin and so on ad infinitum. The attention to detail is staggering yet the concept is so very simple. It is a comforting thought that no matter how deep you stare into its soul it will only ever be what it told you it was at the beginning. I wish I needed to use baking soda more often if only to be reminded of ole reliable, Royal Baking Powder.

Lets Work Together

The week has begun after a mostly refreshing weekend. A group of volunteers gathered to celebrate Valentines day late and Saint Patricks day early. There was little recognition of either but there was beer drinking and chocolate made an appearance as well. Perhaps normally I would give you the highlites in a more connected narrative but the thought of typing that on my phone keypad is discouraging so I will present them as blurbs floating in time.

I was somewhat ill for a good part of the trip. I attribute this to some bad eggs I ate the night before, there were some questionable bits in there but I ate them anyway. Everyone asked if I tested my eggs before eating them. This was unknown to me but apparently I should be testing if the eggs float in water or not. Beware of floating eggs, floating is bad. Now I know, although it will be a while before I eat eggs again which really interrupts my simple "eggs as primary source of protein" diet.

I bore witness to some interesting language interaction. To preface the first story Ill say my use of the word "coloured" is being used in the sense of racial classification during apartheid. It was used to describe all of the people who were of mixed racial background. Today many people who self identify or who might be called coloured, speak Afrikaans as a first language. Well, as I was in the lobby of the hotel we were staying in, I overheard a light-skinned black man ask a light-skinned black woman something in Afrikaans. Her reply in English was "I am not coloured, you speak to me in English or in Setswana" switching to Setswana for the last portion. After this the man apologized profusely and carried on in Setswana. I was just shocked at the womans reaction. Living in a country with so many languages, one is bound to guess wrong every now and then. I get Afrikaans all the time but when people hear my accent or hear me reply in English they obligely switch if they can. Perhaps people assuming her race finally got to her and she blew up, maybe shes just a jerk. In any case it was interesting to see a conflict between two nationals over language, it made me feel more South African. The other story is the reverse I suppose. In the same lobby in the same hotel (an interesting place) I saw two young black men get the attention of an older white man, he was in his 60s or 70s. They then preceded to have a brief conversation in fluent Setswana. I imagine this was not a problem for the young men because they were most likely Batswana but I was certainly impressed by the older man who was most likely an Afrikaaner. That sort of thing seems uncommon to me and therefore a powerful statement of respect . But what do I know Ive only been here a few months.

On Sunday, coming back to the village I had the most pleasant shopping and traveling experience yet. I was up early and ready to go, so I was the first person at the market and got everything and was out in 15 minutes, not bad. I was then the only person waiting for the taxi back to the village next to mine. So when a taxi finally came to drop people off it just picked me up and went. No waiting! And I had the entire thing to myself which meant copious leg room. To top it all off the driver was listening to classic American rock. I could not believe my luck. I was blissfully enjoying CCR with my window open and got home hours before I was expecting to. Having to go back to the way things normally are the next time might break my psyche but it was nice.

There is more to say and definitely more to expand on but my thumb is sore. Heres another reminder for those that have not donated to klm it would be most appreciated. If there is some sort of negotiation you want for your money lets begin the talks. I propose you donate 1000 dollars. Your move! To those that donated already thank you very much.

P.s. The post title was one of the songs playing in the taxi. Canned Heat, good tune.