The baby continues to thrive. No words yet, but in every other way she exactly resembles a normal 2-year-old. We got a new Peace Corps Volunteer here, Christine, and it has been great fun for me to be back around a PCV and that mentality. It’s hard explaining to her what the baby was like when she first arrived, Christine probably thinks we are exaggerating. But she went from almost an inanimate object to a toddler who knows what she wants and adamantly demands it. When her food is too hot to feed her, so the older children pause to blow on it, she gets angry that she’s not receiving her food immediately. When she’s happy, everyone knows, she hums and makes motorboat sounds to herself and dances to the song playing in her head. And more evidence that she is always secretly watching: the other day she was flipping through my grade 7 English book, and she kept licking her finger before she turned the page.
Last night we hosted dinner at our house for the two Rwandan priests, Swazi sister, American sister, new Swazi employee at the clinic, and five American volunteers here on the mission. We had the traditional Swazi starch, which is the same as in Mozambique, but has a different name (the white cornmeal flour that is stirred into boiling water until it forms a solid. A little like solidified grits). We had normal dishes, some roasted chickens and a salad. Sister Diane asked us to each bring something, if possible, from our respective countries. Christine’s parents are Haitian, so she made a Caribbean rice-and-beans dish. Beth made a blueberry crumble for dessert. I made sweet coconut rice and chicken satay with peanut sauce. I didn’t have kebab skewers so I used chopsticks, but they turned out really well and everyone liked them. It was a nice night and I really enjoyed getting to meet the priests outside the church for the first time. I find one of the priests a little intimidating, and last Sunday when the baby was happily humming and dancing on my lap I was terrified he would be annoyed and tell her to be quiet. But instead last night he kept asking where “my baby” was and commenting how happy it makes him to see me with her, because it’s obvious how much love we have for each other.
A lot of people have asked how my time on PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is treating me. I have heard it’s pretty terrible from the few friends I had go on it while in Mozambique. My personal experience is that it is neither terrible, nor fun. I generally feel exhausted all the time, and if I don’t eat enough I feel incredibly nauseas. The nausea I can deal with, but the constant exhaustion is really debilitating. It has certainly given me a new appreciation and sympathy for the many children in the hostel who are on ARVs and are constantly falling asleep during afternoon activities and mass.