Saturday, December 25, 2010

December 26, 2010

Good morning everyone; happy day-after-Christmas! about culture shock...okay, here's what happened in Tabola yesterday...the day started off normally. Kimiko and I slept in until almost eight, a nice change in routine for me. We had a lovely breakfast of French toast and then began the day. Children came to visit all morning; that was fun. We were invited to have a Christmas meal with the Ramoabis...traditional Basotho food. So, at 2:00 P.M. we joined them for lunch; we brought all our baked goods to share. The food was wonderful, and M'e served us on her best's where we began to see the diversity of cultures...we were served in the dining room. We ate with Ntate and 'M'e, while everyone else waited on us. The only time we saw a child was if he or she was asked to serve or do some other errand. There was no family Christmas meal. That was kind of okay because Kimiko and I got to ask many questions that we probably wouldn't have asked at a family meal. We talked about politics, culture, traditions, etc. Kimiko had brought her violin to Tabola, so she played Christmas songs after lunch, and the children began to trickle back into the dining room; the girls seemed to know all the words to the Christmas songs.

the Christmas sweets Kimiko and I made

Ntate and 'M'e sitting with their wedding picture

Kimiko playing the violin

the Christmas plate...egg salad, beets, rice, chakalaka (kind of an onion-tomato sauce on the rice0, moroho (chopped greens...usually cabbage), beet root and. carrot salad

Me, 'M'e Mamoabi and 'M'e Mansthohle

Me and Kopanu

The rest of the day became very strange. We were a bit disappointed that our friend Katie couldn't make it to Tabola; she encountered transportation problems and ended up sitting in a Volunteer Resource room in Mokhotlong all by herself for the entire fact, she had to lock herself in and sleep there.
As the day wore on, the sleepy little village of Tabola became louder and louder. People were beginning to celebrate Chirstmas with joala (homemade brew). In the late afternoon we went to say hello to my supervisor and bring her a Christmas gift. She was so surprised and overwhelmed with being given a gift that we had to explain that it's an American Christmas custom...she didn't even know what to do about untying the ribbon on the gift...back to the day: on the walk to my supervisor's house, we noticed so many people out on the roads...filled with "Christmas Cheer." Children as young as two and three were just wandering around together...people were dancing and singing all over the town, in streets,m the fronts and backs of houses and huts...and cars were driving with reckless abandon. It seemed as though even the little children were filled with joala. By the time we left 'M'e Mathabo's house, the outside gatherings had more than doubled. Everyone seemed to be outside...dinking or drunk. It was then that we realized that Christmas is a simple family gathering for a quick meal, maybe church in the morning, and then drinking, dancing, singing for the rest of the day and all night. When my son called, Tabola sounded like Times Square on New Years' Eve. It's before eight A.M., and the music has already begun again. I think we're in for another day of heavy 'celebrating". Have a peaceful and quiet day-after-

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2010
Christmas morning in Lesotho is not unlike any other Lesotho morning. I suppose that later today, people will start heading off to church…no stockings, Christmas trees, wrapped presents. The children do speak, however, about Father Christmas; one of Ntate’s grandchildren even calls him Santa Claus. Most of Ntate’s extended family are doing well in life…therefore televisions and radios are part of their daily routines. Western influence is strong with the media, so they’ve heard all the traditional stories, and seen all the advertisements for gift giving… and, of course, gift receiving from Santa.
Yesterday Kimiko, a fellow volunteer, came to visit for the holiday. She played her violin for our littlest one, Teko. We also made Rusty’s version of S’mores with the grandchildren. (My version is simply Marie biscuits…a round kind of shortbread… with roasted flavored marshmallows…on top of a chocolate cooking wafer and sandwiched with another biscuit…no graham crackers here!) We used kiwi-flavored marshmallows! All had a fun and messy time.

Another fellow volunteer, Katie, will be visiting later today; I’ve planned a huge Italian feast for us; my friends are vegetarians so it will be a plain marinara sauce…Yum. Tomatoes are in season now…inexpensive and delicious, so it will be a true homemade sauce. Soon Ntate’s garden will be ready and I won’t have to buy any more tomatoes. For dessert we’ll have fruit, fruit and more fruit…it’s summertime here! I’ve also made lemon bars and apple scones in my makeshift oven, and Kimiko has brought some homemade Christmas cookies…she’s got a REAL oven at her place.
I am thinking of all of you today, hoping that everyone at home is happy and healthy. It’s good to remember Christmas the way it is in America…a time for family reuniting…and good to see it as it is in Lesotho…a time for desperately poor, but happy people to turn to their churches as their places of hope for the future. The Basotho never lose hope or their smiles, and that is what makes this Christmas wonderful.

Friday, December 24, 2010

December 23, 2010

My Christmas Tree

Good morning family and friends. It is the day before Christmas Eve and the sun is shining in Lesotho…we are in shirtsleeves as we prepare for the holiday. The Ramoabi house is filled with grandchildren (Moms and Dads have left them off here for the summer break/Christmas holiday). Most likely, the parents will show up tomorrow. I miss everyone in the U.S.A., but feel very much a part of this family and my Peace Corps family. If fact, I’m off to the village in a few moments to do some last minute food shopping; two volunteers will come to spend the holiday with me.
I wish you all the merriest of Christmases and a very happy and healthy New Year.

My wish for Lesotho is that this awful A.I.D.s pandemic will disappear and people will learn the importance of practicing safe sex. Okay, enough preaching…here are some holiday pictures.

Ntate Ramoabi with his great grandson, Kopanu.

Kopanu and his mom.

A great shot of the spectrum of the family...'M'e, her oldest grandchild and her great grandson.

One of the grandchildren, Thuto with her hair all done up for the holidays.

December 12, 2010…it’s really spring!

I know it’s hard to fathom spring in December for you Northern “Hemishperers”, but it’s truly spring in Lesotho…and a magnificent one at that. We’ve had enough rain to make up for its late coming…thank goodness, and the Basotho will have enough maize to harvest for the winter. It’s really not too difficult to get used to a hot Christmas!
There have been three additions to the Ramoabi “family”; two wonderfully pink piglets and a brown calf…the first girl the Ramoabis have had in a long time! (The piglets are both males.)

the calf and mom...just hrs after birth

The Basotho and S.A. children (in fact, most African children) are out of school for summer break and many of the Ramoabi likloholo (grandchildren) are coming to spend the holidays here in Tabola. Five have already arrived, and more are coming this week. The children get dropped off by the parents and spend most of December with Ntate and ‘M’e. All of the parents will come back for the Christmas/New Year holiday; meanwhile, it’s total chaos here at the Ramoabis.

Neo six years old and Thuto, ten years old, helping me decorate the rondavel

My Christmas Tree

By the time they all arrive, the grand children and great grandchildren will range in ages from a few months to early thirties!!! They’re a wonderful family, and I am really enjoying the company of the likloholo.

Tsoene thinking he's the King of the Ramoabi clan

Although it’s summer break, the principal of one of my schools has called her sixth graders in for summer school; their teacher was out most of the year with T.B., and there’s no such thing as substitute teachers here. She’s been given permission to give them the end-of-the-year exams right after Christmas (other sixth graders took theirs in November.) So…. here I am still working! She and I are trying to get the children caught up and ready for the exams. I’m handling the English teaching; the children may not go on to grade seven if they fail their English exam. Anyway, you know me…I’m happy to be back in the classroom teaching, rather than watching and evaluating other teachers…and the children are helping me with Sesotho! I must get some sleep…they’re writing friendly letters tomorrow!