I Finally Go Party

Last Friday night I finally legitimately went out in my township. Joining me for the adventure was another Peace Corps Volunteer, and 2x the attention that I attract going solo. My site could barely handle the pearly-white double-mulungu onslaught of oppression and MTV Unplugged DVD Box Sets. It was an interesting evening. Please enjoy this incoherent ramble.

The interesting started prior to the revelry. After meeting my visitor, I had to leave him safely at home, behind a hundred million deadbolts, to run to an important meeting with someone representing my school. I went to the official’s home, and she fed me. Yay! But right as the meeting was about to get started her friend showed up, and they had to talk party planning for half an hour. I was very OK with this, which would have surprised me a few months ago. Africa has really chilled me out in some ways. This is just the way things work here, and I enjoyed the time to just relax, snacking on biscuits and coke and listening to siSwati.

I also learned, via the music video channel running in the background, that the local nightclub (more on that later) is the backdrop to the music video for some song I keep hearing on the radio. Apparently, the DJs behind the song are from my township. I think it’s really great that popular culture here is not just being generated in the cities, but is coming from the townships as well.

So I returned home, and spent 20 minutes unlocking doors, disarming traps, and short-circuiting forcefields to pull my visitor out. It was now rage o’clock, and the town was about to get painted blood red. But before even making it to the main road, we were startled by my neighbor. His young child had noticed a snake near the house, and a massive freak-out ensued. People are not fond of snakes here, and there is no shortage of slithering reptiles causing everyone to collectively fill their pants on a regular basis; the surrounding mountains are home to pythons, green and black mamabs, and all manner of creepy-crawlies. A small group of men surrounded the presumed hiding place of the now doomed reptile, and once some stick-poking and rock-throwing prompted the snake to emerge, the fight was on. By fight, I mean execution: a few smashes from the makeshift weapons and it was dead, but we kept beating the over-sized worm, splattering snake parts all over. It was not a black mamba as suspected, but in Africa the only good snake is a dead snake.

And thus, the tone for the evening was set.

After the snake-slaughter, we headed to the car wash. Car washes are more than just a place to get a car washed, they are a THE place to hang out. Many drinking establishments even provide car washes as well, I guess it helps set the hang out vibe. We had a few beers, ate some awesome peri-peri spiced french fries, and met up with some friends of our minder for the evening. Not a single car was washed in the hour or so we were there. You can’t get wet when you’re in your clubbing shirt! (And we were in our clubbing shirts. I was wearing my one t-shirt that hasn’t been stretched to nothing by the hand washing It’s plain gray, and it has a pocket. Baller! Shot Caller! )

The next stop was a random front yard in a different section of the township. We had a few more beers, had some good conversation, and visited a local shebeen–an informal bar operated out of someone’s house. We only went there to buy a few beers, but we did meet some very intoxicated locals who were pounding some sort of moonshine, undoubtedly boosted by the power of battery acid if the safety instruction provided by the Peace Corps is accurate.

The individual who owned the random lawn owns an Xbox 360. He even has the Kinect camera! We made plans for a future date to play the game created for Kinect by my former employer, something I had expected to wait 2 years to see. This wasn’t in the Peace Corps brochure…

It was getting late, and me and the other volunteer were getting tired. We were all on our way home, but we happened to be passing by the local nightclub. In these parts, a nightclub is not an enclosed space with smoke and music and douchebags, but any place that has large speakers and visiting DJs. This particular nightclub was a parking lot, a butchery, a restaurant, a bar, and a car wash (obviously) all occupying a shared space. If I return I’ll try to take some pictures.

After a few more beers, we made a stop at the local gas station for a bit more socializing, and then finally made our way home. It was nice to finally get out and see what things are like after dark. Me and my visitor balanced out our evening’s awesomeness by staying up until 3:30 and discussing the role of technology in development. Yeah Peace Corps!

Township life is awesome.

5 Comments

Marc Albert Flury says:

OK. I demand to play Dance Central in your township when I visit.

18 Nov 10 @ 7pm

Louise says:

Sounds like you are on African time now! Will you ever truly adjust to the coffee-drinking-car-driving US scene again? I think blood pressure is much lower in Africa. Enjoyed you descriptions!

19 Nov 10 @ 1am

michaelwsherman says:

Marc, don’t be optimistic. Hopefully I’ll meet up with the guy before then and try to get the details sorted out.

But I’m not sure if Dance Central is even available here. He has the Kinect because it came with the Xbox, but currently no games for it. Getting the hardware here is MUCH easier than getting games, especially decent ones. The taste in games here tops out with GTA, unfortunately. You might have to bring a copy of Dance Central with you…but let me see if I can get ahold of the guy first.

Louise–Coffee? What’s that?

19 Nov 10 @ 10am

Gareth Marland says:

That’s so awesome! We should Xbox Live sometime…

25 Nov 10 @ 7am

michaelwsherman says:

Too bad Internet costs a billion dollars here.

25 Nov 10 @ 5pm