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 it...like on the 20th???? M'e Mathabo very calmly explained that today WAS the 20th...at 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 began...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 buckets...at 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...
...so, 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 sight...you 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 walking...at 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