Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pictures of Daily Life - 3-25-10


Picture of Ntate throwing Teko onto the dried bean pods to break them and get the beans out.

Picture of a natural healer I met at a running event.

Here are some of the girls playing their version of hopscotch (they use a rock) during mid-morning break.

This was an actual writing lesson...given outside in the dirt. The classroom was too crowded and dark for writing that day.

One of the fifth graders cutting the peaches for drying.

This is a picture of the leaves we cut up for dried moroho.

Drying the Morpho and Peaches

Pictures from cultural day at St Rose High School

Girls' traditional dance.

This is a picture of the H. S. principal; he's wearing a traditional blanket

A picture of the boys marching to Peka in traditional garb on the cultural day at St Rose High School

Two of the many H.S. girls in the Lesotho hat.

Girls drumming on a bucket.

Boys' traditional dance.

Another picture of the march from the H.S. to the chief's house in Peka. The boys are in traditional dress.You can see the one tarred road in the background. The dirt road we're on is like the ones I walk every day.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Down Time with Friends - 3/13/10

Had hoped to make it to Lesotho's brand new first movie theater while in Maseru for a Peace Corps briefing/training planning session this weekend. Unfortunately, we did not get there because the meeting ended by noon on Sunday and lots of the volunteers wanted to get back to their sites to finish work before applying for vacation time (Easter break). I got a ride to Peka from two of Kaye's friends. We all slept over at Kaye's place, drank wine, looked at the incredible night sky...we used my star chart from Jedd & Lauren! Then we played hearts; I won! So we had week (3/22) I'm in Maseru for a week for the final third of the training (which I just helped to plan). Then I hope to visit S.A. during the Easter break! I found a book on the table at the center which might be of interest to all of you: ROUGH GUIDE TO SOUTH AFRICA lESOTHO AND SWAZILAND

March 7, 2010

It is the day before my niece, Ellen's birthday and exactly one week and a day since my first setloholo, Luisa, was born!

This week has felt routine...that's great; it seems as though I developing a daily pattern of sorts. Up at 5:00 A.M...not really by choice (although I don't mind the early mornings at all). I am up with the call of all the animals in the village...the cows, donkeys, sheep, silly cat, the cat next door, the calves, chickens, etc. You see, since most people in Lesotho still don't have electricity, they are used to awakening with the first light of day and going to bed at around 9 P.M....or sometime after the sun's gone to bed.

Images that fill my days:
the Lesotho hat, symbol for this country, found on the flag

the big black pots we cook the papa in...papa is the staple food; it's like a very dry, white corn meal, eaten with the fingers, along with moroho, (vegetables).

My Tabola family

I have been spending a week at each of my three schools on a rotating basis; I think that after the Easter break, I change my schedule to two days at each of two schools and Friday a floater day. It seems that after two weeks away from a school, I find it difficult to remember the teachers' names!!!

My work at all the schools seems to be going well; I've made a set of math cards for the upper grades in each school, set up a science and math laboratory in the two government schools (there's no place to set one up in the church school), observed and spoken with every teacher in each school, and, generally speaking, have become a welcome face at each place!

I'm getting quite good at getting around on public transportation (which consists of many many over-crowded, run down vans which run from village to village carrying as many people and bundles of whatever that they can squeeze into every inch of space). I find often myself holding someone's baby in my arms or holding someone's packages as we bump along the dirt roads to the next town. Luckily for me, walking is something I've always liked because my nearest school is about twenty minutes' walk and the furthest is one and a half hours. This will be interesting during the winter months.

Surprise Visit - 2/27/10

Am having a lovely surprise visit from my friend this weekend. We've made loads of tomato sauce from the tamatis (tomatoes) in M'es garden and just made a foccaccia bread in our jury-rigged oven; it came out great!!

District Running Event - February 20, 2010

What a day! There was an athletic (running) event for our zone of government schools today, so both Renekeng and Mopeli were competing. I told Renekeng I'd ride to the event with them and I'd go back home with Mopeli. I wore my district of Berea tee shirt from Hamebekenyane so I'd be able to at least appear neutral!

Well, Renekeng's bus showed up...picture the oldest, most run down school bus ever...minus the yellow color, and that's what we crowded over 70 adults and children into!! I'm not kidding...arms and legs were hanging out of windows...

...but we all sang and cheered all the way...well, almost all the way...the “bus” gave out before we got there...twice...both times, the biggest kids had to get out and push until the bus started again. But that wasn't as bad as poor Mopeli's situation, When their bus didn't show, M'e Mathabo called; the owner of the company said, “Oh, that's some time next week, isn't on the 20th???? M'e Mathabo very calmly explained that today WAS the which point the driver said, “Okay, we'll see if we can get it started; if we can, we'll come.” That's when we on the Renekeng bus said we'd explain the situation to the judges and hope they'd wait for Mopeli.

The games were supposed to begin at 9:00A.M. (I'd been at the bus stop since 7:30). We got there at 9:30 and were the third of nine schools to arrive. Half of Mopeli showed up at 10:00 because the bus that was sent for them was smaller (and worse) than the one I was on with Renekeng, but it didn't really matter because nothing had yet begun.

Finally there were opening prayers, the chief of that village spoke, the national anthem was sung and we began.

Mopeli was smart enough to send their athletes in the first load, so we were okay teamwise. Then it got hotter and hotter and hotter, but we cheered and had a grand ole time...until about 4:00 P.M....

...just after the last race had been run...down, down down came the rain in first it felt good, but after a few minutes, we were all pretty darn soaked, cold, but still happy!..People began to rush to the big judges' tent in the middle of the field (by the way, I had taken my smaller backpack, and yes, I was smart enough to pack the second poncho in the second backpack..., where was I...oh yes, the entire field...nine zone schools, teachers, parents, judges, etc. tried to fit under this tent...the old heavy canvas type, but without sides. We all managed pretty well as I thought to myself, “This isn't as crowded as the bus was”...then the wind picked up...louder, stronger and yes, you guessed it...the tent began to collapse so we all ran out into the rain.

At this point many schools got back onto their buses; in fact, there were only two schools' buses which were nowhere in guessed again...Renekeng and Mopeli, but we were still laughing and having a grand ole time...even though neither school took home a trophy. So we all stood in the windy, pouring, muddy rain singing and dancing!

The chief felt sorry for us and invited us all into an extra rondeval he had on his compound, at which point Mopeli's little bus showed up. We sent half of us home (I stayed since I had a poncho on...even though the bottoms of my jeans and sneakers and socks were soaked). So, half of Mopeli and all of Renekeng squeezed into the rondeval and waited for the storm to subside. Renekeng's bus showed up shortly after that and the rest of us waited and waited and waited, just like all good Basothos do!

The rain stopped and we decided to start least to the tarred main road. At about 7:00 the bus showed up, we all got on and it stalled! The driver got it started, finally, and we were home by 7:40.

If you could have seen us coming home, you'd have died laughing or crying...I'm not sure which...because we were singing and dancing in the aisles, hanging out of windows, and all very very happy.

I think of all the precautions we take with our young in the U.S and I wonder how any Basotho can make it through the teens...but they do!!

It was, a wonderful day! “Night to all you safe, precaution-minded friends and family in America. Love you all. Rusty

Loss and good neighboors - February 14,2010

Happy Valentine's Day to all! I lost my wallet yesterday...somewhere between my friend, Kaye's house and my house...Peace Corps I.D., 500 Rand, a Lesotho bank card, etc. Oh well, such is life; I guess I'll really be skimping on food this month; luckily, I've made a lot of Basotho friends, most of whom have gardens. It's times like these when I really appreciate the fact that I love vegetables! Anyway, other than the wallet loss, the day was pleasant...spent the morning washing and hanging clothes and then went to a school meeting at a private school to discuss the arrival of their new library. Since today is Sunday, I shall venture into Maputsoe tomorrow to report the loss of my cards at the bank.

2/17/10 - Kaye just called me to tell me a little girl just brought all my cards to money, no wallet, but all the cards are back!

Separation of the Twins Ceremony - February 13, 2010

This morning M'e Mamoabi asked me if I wanted to go to a Lesotho cultural event with her and Ntate Joseph....of course I threw down the stuff I was bleaching, washed my hands and was out in the yard in no time at all! I walked with four M'es...all dressed in traditional wear which consisted of either a seshoeshoe or a skirt covered from the waist down with a Basotho blanket. They all also had some sort of head covering.

As I walked with the M'es I asked about the event, but no one seemed able to tell me what would be going on. M'e Amelia, Ntate's daughter-in-law who lives on the compound (she's the one in the blue seshoeshoe and brown hat) told me that it would be a service for the children who have died and for the parents who have died from "causes"...they don't even mention the word AIDS in this town... Of course I said, "From AIDS?" The answer was an immediate no.
We walked a distance and finally got to a house where people were gathering outside and lining up for food...every occasion is celebrated with eating. We got on the line for eating and were served papa (a Masotho's main staple...a very dry, white corn meal paste, moroho, (cooked vegetables... mainly cabbabe) chicken, sour porridge (actually quite tasty) and joala (homemade brew).

We all washed our hands in the same bucket and then sat down wherever we could find shade and ate with our hands...something I'm becoming quite used to.

I took lots of pictures and amused the crowds showing the shots until a saw a sheep being let out to the crowd on a rope..."uh oh...what's this ?" I thought. When I asked M'e Amelia, she said that it was going to be a special rital to spiritually separate a set of eighteen year old twins...a boy and a girl. This was the cultural event...very popular in Lesotho. Naturally I asked about the guessed it; the ritual is not complete until the sheep has been slaughtered and cooked.

The twins came out of the special fact, both were in stylish jeans, looking quite embarrassed at what they had to endure!

So, some old gentleman said a whole bunch in Sesotho (I think he was the chief), and he kept passing his hands and arms between the boy and girl.. The next thing that happened was amazing...he placed the kids' hands on the sheep then walked right over to me, pointing to the camera and muttering lots of words.

I got the idea and took the picture...all the time thinking about the poor sheep. I ABSOLUTELY DIDN'T WANT TO TAKE A PICTURE OF THAT PART OF THE RITUAL.! Then along came M'e Mamoabi to the rescue; she tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Let's go." Boy was I glad to leave the ceremony!!

I spent the afternoon at St. Rose with Kaye...after I picked up my mail in :Peka...yes, the mail actually does come faster to that P.O. Box! Audry, I received a letter and the small flat rate box posted January 22! For all I know, the package could have arrived earlier in the week thanks for all the wonderful goodies! I shall secure my pit toilet door in the morning...oh, the little things which become luxuries!!!

I walked the three miles from the Peka posong (you guessed it, post office) to Kaye's house, got there hot, thirsty, exhausted and Kaye said, "Let's go on a hike!" Actually, after we'd sat a while enjoying the package contents and some good conversation, we did go on a great hike. We ended up in a remote village in the hills behind St Rose Clinic, surrounded by green pastures, adorable little herdsboys, donkeys, sheep, a baby lamb, baby goat, huge was incredible; no; I didn't bring my camera on the hike.

Anyway, I'm back home with Tsoene fast asleep in my lap. It was a wonderful day.

on clothing (2/12/10)

The environment is VERY ROUGH ON CLOTHING, yet we're required to dress professionally. I hand wash EVERYTHING. Women wrap up in warm scarves all the time...even when it's hot as not to show their "aahmeeemals"... that's "animals", the very sexy space between the legs. Actually, the women...even if they're wearing jeans, will wrap a scarf or blanket around their waists...or sometimes from the boobs down. Okay, I don't want this email to get lost, so here goes.