Friday, October 29, 2010

October 16 - Month of Exploration

The month of October has been my exploration month! It began with a school trip to Katse Dam in the mountains of Lesotho. What an incredible trip! Some of the highlights were:
1. Seeing the faces of the students when they were given Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch! It was as though someone had ordered champagne and caviar for all!
2. My ride up and through the mountains on the oldest, most rickety bus one could imagine! There were actually times when I had to close my eyes; the mountain roads are NOTHING like American mountain roads!
3. Stopping the bus on the steepest incline and narrowest curve possible so the kids could all get out and take a bathroom break…in the middle of nowhere!
4. Again, stopping in the most dangerous, curvy places to allow donkeys to cross the road.
5. The enormity of the mighty dam, surrounded by tiny stone and stick huts with people living in the vicinity without electricity, plumbing, heat, transportation, etc.
6. And again, stopping on a crazy curve on the way back, so we could all get out and dance on the road, making our own music with mouths, shoes, sticks and stones!.
It was a wonderful field trip!!
A few days later I went on another school field trip. This time we went to the famous Thaba Basio…the mountain that represents the beginning of the history of the Lesotho people. It’s where King Meshoeshoe I protected his people from the Boars and other enemies. After climbing the mountain and learning the history of the forming of the Kingdom of Lesotho, we went to visit the Parliament building in Maseru. The children got to sit in the councilmen’s chairs, etc.,…but their biggest thrill was driving through a city! None of them had ever seen a stoplight before! On the way home, we stopped at the Lesotho Agricultural College and got to see three camels being cared for by the agricultural students..
That trip was on Friday, the day before a weeklong school break. On Saturday my friend Karen and I left for Victoria Falls. We stayed in Zimbabwe and went on a safari in nearby Botswana. The safari was an all day affair; the morning was spent sighting animals from a boat on the Zambezi River, which separates Botswana from Namibia. I guess I can say I was in Namibia because we pulled right up to shore to watch an elephant give himself a mud bath.

After an incredible buffet lunch, we piled into jeeps and drove through a national park…Wow…I wish I could send the hundreds of wonderful photos home for everyone to see…we saw herds of elephants, hippos, water buffaloes, giraffes, a lioness, warthogs, monkeys!!! It was one of my most special days!

Our day of viewing the falls was just as breathtaking. It’s the dry season in most of Africa right now, so the falls were not at their fullest. We were told that we might be disappointed, but we certainly weren’t. Apparently, when the falls are at their fullest, there’s so much fog and mist that you really don’t get a very clear viewing. Well, we saw everything…even a group of crazy teenagers on the Zambia side sitting in a pool of water RIGHT AT THE EDGE OF THE FALLS.

Africa is a wonderful continent…and I’ve only just begun to explore it! In trying to sum up my trip, I guess I’ve come back to Lesotho with my eyes, mind and heart more aware of the work that needs to be done here. Botswana and Zimbabwe were so clean…no litter anywhere. I suppose one could say that it was that way because I was in tourist territory, but that’s really not the case. We drove through poor areas in both countries and they were litter free. Both countries had signs on the roads reminding people to pick up after themselves. Not so in Lesotho…but I’ve not given up yet. Even if the government of this tiny kingdom doesn’t have a sanitation department or litter/conservation education, that doesn’t mean it can’t be introduced in the schools…maybe by Peace Corps volunteers!!! (I can feel another school project formulating in this crazy brain for next year.)
I wish I could somehow bring you all with me when I travel. I want you to meet the wonderful and diverse people of Africa! I miss you all, and want to remind you, again, of what a lush, privileged life we live in America. Those of you living in Steamboat, please help the home school group with their project of bringing a library to my children here in Tabola. Go to their bake sale on October 25th at City Market.

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