Two of the scariest words from my Peace Corps experience are “month’s end.” Really. I shutter just typing them.
At the end of every month, every single inhabitant of South Africa is paid, whether it’s grants for their children, pension, or a paycheck. Since many villages are really far from town, many people only come in at month’s end to buy everything they need until next time. (This means buying in massive bulk, but without a Costco or a car or any sort of convenience.) Thus begins the monthly descent on our shopping town. Most women are there for food, while most men are there for drinks on drinks on drinks and to harass women of all colors and ages. If you’re in town during month’s end, good luck. If you’re in town during month’s end trying to buy all your materials for a camp for 75 people, God bless your soul.
We spent last Friday-Monday (month’s end) planning, dissecting our budget, and buying all our materials and nonperishable food. We went to the more packed, more chaotic supermarket, because their prices are better than the store we usually go to. We got on line immediately, and one of us would wait with our carts (PLURAL AND FULL TO THE BRIM) while the others navigated past women and babies and carts and broken 10kg bags of flour. (If you are claustrophobic do NOT attempt.) We all stayed so positive despite the joke we were living in and got everything we needed. Have you ever spent three hours on a line at the grocery store without pulling your hair out? Mission accomplished.
All that’s left to do is finalize sessions, make the final bus deposit, and buy the perishable food, all before Thursday. Then we’re off! Wish us luck!