Sunday, January 24, 2010

12/29/2009 - My new home

In response to your inquiries, yes, there is wireless in Lesotho. The modem that I bought is not part of my cell phone...although, I do have to use my cell phone to reactivate computer minutes for which I pay. It looks like a flash/memory drive which connects to the side of my lap top. I can't get more technical than that 'cause I'm computer challenged!! The electricity here needs an adapter for it to work on things brought from America.

I just got back from my site at Tabola...I'm back in Maseru at the Peace Corps training's kinda like a dorm compound...there's running hot and cold water, electricity, a dining hall, washing machine, dryer and it's in the heart of the capital city, so the "kids"...the other 28 volunteers in training...are in heaven because they can get drunk every night. It's NOTHING like the real world of Lesotho. My village is very poor...hardly any men at all...only those who are sick with AIDs or seniors (by seniors I mean anyone older than 50)...I have a well right in front of my thatched roof rondavel...I am very lucky. Many of the volunteers have to walk quite far to fetch water.

This is my new home; a small, cozy rondavel...which will be nice when I'm trying to heat the place this winter....we had an after dinner meeting to learn how to light our propane heaters.

I'm living at the compound of M'e,(mother), Moabi and Ntate,(father), Ramoabi. This family who has taken me in in Tabola is wonderful. They are a retired couple. They've given me the Lesotho name of Me Neo...(neo means gift). I'm quite honored by the name. I hope I'll be able to live up to their expectations.

I'm living in their first home; they've since built four other buildings on their land...mine is the only rondavel. Their divorced from their son, but their responsibility, is living in their second house. It has electricity. On either side of my rondavel are two tin roofed houses, similar to the one in which I lived in electricity. Herdsmen/boys live in those two houses. The daughter-in-law sent an electric wire from her window through my window so I'd be able to plug in my computer and light a lightbulb at night...but the Peace Corps didn't approve it. They said that all windows must have security locks on them...therefore cannot be left open. I'm back in Maseru until 1/9, so today I bought a 20 meter cord that we'll try to run underground and through the floor of the rondavel. If that works (and the Peace Corps doesn't see it), I'll have electricity!!

My rondavel is a single fact, it's so small that the double bed in it takes up more than half the space! I'll take some inside pictures when I get back. Rondavels vary in size and construction materials. Many are made from thatch and cow dung. I am very lucky that mine was made with stones.

The Peace Corps supplied me with a propane heater which looks like it's ready to fall apart. I tried it, and it works,kinda...I just hope the thatched roof doesn't go up in flames...Ke swa swa....(I'm kidding)! I have no intention of leaving it on when I go to matter how cold it gets. I'm living in the lap of luxury; a brand new pit toilet was built just for's a big hole with a seat over it, some corrugated metal sides, and a corrugated metal slanted roof. It has a wooden door which locks from the outside...great...but when you go in and sit down, there's no way to latch it closed, so when the wind blows it just swings wide open!! Tomorrow I'll venture in to town to see if I can find a latch of some sort to rig up. I'm also lucky in that the water pump is not far from my rondavel...unfortunately, it's the hardest darned thing to pump!! A couple of the village kids jumped up and down on the handle to get some water into my buckets...then the buckets were so heavy that I couldn't manage them back to my rondavel; thank goodness for wonderful, enthusiastic Basotho kids!!! Oh, and have I mentioned Basotho (that's the people of Lesotho) time? It's very's a typical example of how the Basotho deal with time...the principal of the Govt. Primary School (my main school) took me around the town on Sunday; she introduced me to te village chief and brought me to the local police station...showed me the local shop (not much bigger than my was all wonderful, and I was so well received...oh, another sidetrack...My new family renamed me. I am now M'e Neo (the word means gift). At any rate, after a full and lovely day with the principal, she said she would be at my rondavel at 9:00am the next morning to show me the main school...Mopei Primary School. Knowing that Basotho are never on time for anything, I didn't worry when she still wasn't around by 9:30. When 10:00 rolled around, I began to question my Sesotho. I thought I'd misunderstood her and was supposed to meet her at her house. I told my M'e and she had her grandchildren walk me over to the principal's house. When we got there, I proceeded to apologize for my which point the principal, M'e Matobo, smiled and said, you made no mistake...I said I would pick you up at your rondavel. She then proceeded to sit me down in her kitchen, saying, "I'll be right with you." That was at approximately 10:30. At 11:35 she emerged from her room, ready to start the day! This is very, very's not rude in the Basotho culture. One must always be patient and wait. It is, however, EXTREMELY rude for someone who is waiting to get up and leave...even if the wait is over 4 hours. The people are all relaxed and happy; I wrestle with the idea that the Peace Corps would like to change some things that the people really don't want to change! Anyway, enough philosophy for tonight. Well, one final note...if, in my exchanges with Basotho children, I can get one child to think more critically...more in a problem-solving mode, rather than memorization mode, this next two years will have been worthwhile. I love the people I've met...but I'm not sure they are ready for all the "development" that's being offered.
A few more pictures: M'e Neo's house

and a view from the hill in Tabola:

This is the main school at which I'll be working:

This is a typical morning assembly...even during the winter, the morning assembly is outside...I guess it really doesn't make much difference, since there's no heat or electricityin the classrooms anyway.

Here's the bus depot in Maseru:

and an agave:

My eigtht weeks of training have been in intensive Sesotho (language) classes, political, HIV/AIDs, economic, culture and the education system of Lesotho training.

On Thursday at 8:00 a.m., I will take my final exam, an oral assessment test in Sesotho. I am so nervous!!!! It's an individual test; I'm glad I'm going first...get it over with... If I don't pass, they'll keep me here at the training center until I do! I guess that's not really a bad thing, but I'm anxious to move along off these grounds and into Tabola. When I go back (hopefully on the 9th) I'll ask if I can have a dog. If they say yes, I'm going to go back up to Bhuta Bhute and find my Mtatata. I wish tomorrow was over. I guess I'd better get back to studying.

wish me luck. Gotta run to class. ...
Love to all of you, Rusty

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