Since the weather is getting colder, I decided to try to work my gas heater...in preparation for the really cold days. It was out of gas so Ausi Mathabo and I filled the empty gas cylinder into a wheelbarrow and proceeded to wheel it down to the shoppong (store). I am so glad she was with me...we no sooner left the compound than the rain started pouring down. What a sight...a black girl and a white old lady tripping and laughing through the mud and getting soaked to the blankets!!!! The wheelbarrow rolled over and the cylinder fell out, inching its way down the muddy stream of a road. We ran, caught it, lugged it back up to the wheelbarrow and started again. When we finally made it to the shoppong, we were both black...head to toe!! It cost me one hundred ten maluti to fill the cylinder; I believe that translates to about seventeen dollars. It's a pretty big cylinder too; it stands about two feet tall and has a diameter of about twelve inches. I should think that that will hold enough gas to get me through the winter.
By the time we got back to the compound (it's about a ten minute walk there and a fifteen minute walk back...all uphill), we were soaked but warm with laughter and the exertion of trying to get the wheelbarrow back up the muddy road. Poor Tsoene; he HATES the heater.
(Tsoene on my roof)
I let him out and he cried to be let in out of the rain; I let him in and he began crying again. I finally realized the problem was his fear of the heater and picked him up to ease his tension. It worked...at least we hit a compromise; I was allowed to leave the heater running so long as I held him in my lap. So far that's the only thing my little Matata (trouble-maker) seems to be afraid of.
I am still without internet service in Tabola, so I am sorry for the long pauses between blog entries. I am trying to get the problem solved. This weekend I shall take my first vacation in five months!! Another volunteer, Kaye, and I will rent a cottage in Clarens, South Africa. If you've a map handy, Clarens sits just north of the most northerly part of Lesotho...a bit below Bethlehem, South Africa. Some other volunteers are also coming with us; we're all chipping in on the cost of the house...and yes, I'm bringing dominoes along!!!
Let's see, what else can I report about the schools??...not much more than they're really cold! We wear our coats all day in the classrooms and squint to see the chalkboard writings when the days are dark and gray. The children still assemble outside each morning, but now the sound of so many little coughs usually drowns out the morning prayers. All three of my schools are getting ready for a multiplication Bee Competition. Kaye, my friend who will leave the Peace Corps in June, gave me two huge maps...one of the world and the other of North America. I've decided that it would be unfair to just give the maps to one school and not another, so they will be the prize for the school which does the best in the Multipllication Bee. Oh, if any of you have any old children's coats or jackets that you'd like to send here, I KNOW I can find some adorable but cold little bodies to gratefully accept them....even some old tights, sweaters, heavy socks, mittens, scarves, hats would be loved and well used.
As far as Golfo is concerned, the only news I've received is that she's begun her chemotherapy and had an extremely hard first week. How I wish I could be with her right now. I guess that positive thoughts and conversations with that Higher Spirit will have to do for now.
Hopefully, I'll be able to send this off to you from Clarens. Miss you all, Rusty