So, our trip was like 2 weeks long - We used all of our leave allowance and our money - so you won't have to worry about more vacation photos any time soon after we finish with these. I'm going to begin posting the photos actually from Cape Town next. We had kind of an interesting experience at the begining of the Cape Town segment. We had booked this hostel on an organic farm - in an eco village even, in one of the nearby suburbs. The hostel was even next to the train station - OMG public transport! So, we got there on the train and the train itself was a bit dodgy (not terrible but important to keep the gaurd up while riding) so we weren't particularly keen on riding it more than 2X a day for the next 9 days from the begining. We got to the hostel and it was terrible, run down, no sign of a farm, and the other people staying there made us a bit nervous too, also the walls were paper-thin and, especially I, did not get more than two hours of sleep.
The next day we had planned to go to the farmer's market and (yay!) the Phantom of the Opera, so we decide that we'd do that and then the following day find a new place. That day we also had the pleasure, of touching base with the family of one of our friends from back home that lives near Cape Town. In short, we are so grateful to them, they actually came and picked us up and invited us to stay in their guest house for 2 nights while we regrouped and found a new place. It was such a lovely time, and it was so fun to meet and visit with such a nice family. Their house was great and they even had a pool (wonderful for the hot days!), they also commercially grow basil:-) and were just generally great. It was really fun to stay with them also because it reminded us of "real life." The whole family, and house with running water (showers) - even a washing machine! Electric ovens and generally comfortable atmosphere. It really turned a bad experience into a really great one. I'm sorry to say that their family has since suffered a tragic loss, and we would appreciate if our other friends and family could keep these lovely, kind, people in their thoughts.
So, the Farmer's Market was great and so was the Phantom! We really tried to not let the bad hostel experience over shadow those fun times. We then moved into a very cute little appartment that was let out for holiday stays. It was really reasonably priced, especially for the location - which was great, really close to everything! So, then we pretty much finished out our stay doing normal tourist stuff: Table Mountain, beaches, the Waterfront, Greenmarket Square and the Aquarium that you will see in the ample quantity of photos. Shane was really happy too, because he got to do Ju jit su while there - which he hasn't really gotten to do at all since we left. (Though now he is making a plan to start a Ju jit su club here). Basically, it was very lovely overall and a great little respit from some of the challenges here in Lesotho. We got to shower in a real shower every day of the trip! And, we ate a lot of perishable food because we always had a fridge! We found a smoothie shop near our appartment and I think we had like 5 smoothies while we were gone!
Coming back has been fun, friendly faces and familiar rountines, our cat is bigger and is a boy (don't remember if I've said that or not yet). We eased ourselves back in culinarily by bringing back real butter, cheese and even heavy cream! Which we've had to pretty much binge on before it spoils, that hasn't been so bad though! Still enjoying the Cook's Illustrated cookbook a lot, it has been fun to have butter. I made a chocolate chip cookie recipe where they said you should brown the butter first to add depth of flavor - they were amazing, thanks for the chocolate chips! We even made blueberry pancakes, just so we could put the real butter on them:-) (also thanks for the dried blueberries!).
I wanted to share the above photos, they are both from work that I (Carol) have been doing. The one with all of the women is one of the groups that I have been working with. We had a few seeds in the office, just sitting here - so I gave them to a couple of the groups I work with. Unfortunately, a lot of the seeds aren't exactly "culturally appropriate" like the zucchini, but I told them that they could grow it and I would teach them how to cook it. So, I got to the village (before we left) hoping to do a composting demo, then it started raining as soon as we got into the garden! I noticed that their zucchini was ready so, we decided to do the cooking demo. I told them I was going to teach them to cook it like KFC (really, really big here!), so we made fried zucchini slices - they liked them, but added a bunch of salt. I know that I'm supposed to be teaching healthy stuff, but that recipe it just so delicious and I was sure they'd like it because of the KFC thing, and it was easy. It was really fun though, and maybe you can see that they aren't very used to getting their photos taken! This group is great though. This time, as soon as we pulled up they welcomed me by giving me a jar of canned peaches to take home! My collegue explained to me that "even though Basotho people can be counted among the poorest of the world, they will still give anything they have to make you feel welcome."
The second photo is of the bakery I've been working with. For a long time they have just been in that shipping container, but with no sign or anything. The bakery is great too, it makes these bars, that I swear are exactly like the Nature Valley granola bars, as well as custom baked cakes. So, I've been encouraging them to make a sign - even just paint something on the side so people know what it is. They told me that when we got back from Cape Town, it would be done - and guess what - they had done it! No small gratification in the greater scheme of PC projects! So, I see I've been verbose again, and you still need to go look at more pictures so, I'll leave it at that. As always, our best wishes to everyone who is keeping up with us. Lots of love from Lesotho!
Shane and Carol
PS- please don't forget to write and tell us how you guys are doing!