Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Birthday Vacation!

Hello Everyone,
So, we’re doing this post from vacation… We arrived after dark Monday after waking up in the morning to it literally freezing temperature in our house, then, spending all day on public transport – ugh! It was a lot colder than expected on the Wild Coast, we heard rats scuttling around in the “kitchen” during the night the hot water in the tub goes in REALLY SLOWLY and… we love it! We are staying in a cute little cabin on the top of hill looking over a small estuary feeding into the ocean. We changed eco-systems 3 times, with the Drakensburgs looking just like Glacier National Park and then most of the way between there and the Wild Coast looked like the area around Conrad, MT – Now we are here and the ecosystem is tropical, all Birds of Paradise and Banana trees… Also, we have all of the luxuries, warmer weather (not hard when we could see our breath in our bathroom in Lesotho!), wi-fi, good food, beach, views, nice bathtub with hot water… We’re really noticing some of the effects of having been living in PC (read on for more of this too), here on vacation – we borrowed a cat for our cabin, and the electric tea kettle has been helping the tap out for the bath, and we didn’t really think twice about it. More about it to come with great photos!
            I wanted to do this post to say thank you so much! We received 2 packages before leaving and have delighted in tea and chocolate and even a card that sings Happy Birthday! Thanks so much. I know that we’ve said this before and I know we’ll say it again, but we really can’t express how much all of your love and support has meant to us. If it is in the form of encouraging or chatty emails, letters, phone calls, photos, packages, postcards – all of it is deeply appreciated! We have been blown away by you guys, we were hoping we wouldn’t get anyone calling us crazy and trying to get us to come home, but really everyone we know has just went above and beyond, we knew we were lucky for our families and friends – but dang guys! You’re amazing!
            So… we left for our African adventure in Peace Corps, just over 1 year ago – can you guys believe it? We’re not sure we can! We toured Philly, saw a glimpse of NYC for the first time, then it was time to get on that big scary plane for a LONG time and cross the Atlantic, definitely not knowing what was in store for us. We safely landed on the continent of Africa after watching the sun set and rise again from the airplane. We were welcomed by the villagers and also really started to get to know some of the other PCVs.            We had only been in Lesotho for about a week when my (gasp!) 27th birthday rolled around. At that time we were in PC’s Community Based Training, having training sessions from dawn until dusk (literally!), we weren’t given money, we couldn’t leave the village anyway so it didn’t matter – and so, I didn’t really have high hopes for celebrating last year. Shane, being sweet, tried to do a surprise for me by telling the other volunteers, so they could do a surprise… acknowledgement – but he told them the wrong day! So, I came to class June 6th to a nice handmade card, singing and even a balloon… it was sweet, but a little bit embarrassing!  Unfortunately, we didn’t really get a do-over when my real birthday rolled around. However, our host family was amazing! After we got done with class, laundry (4 hrs hand washing) and gardening, I found Shane had told our family the right date and our host father had gotten wine and cake to share and even the sweetest card I could ask for! PC ended up brining delicious treats to share too, but there were a few bumps with that, as mine was the first birthday of our group in Lesotho. Regardless, it was interesting – but I’m happy that this year we can go to the beach for a little R&R and temperatures in the high 70’s! Next year at this time we will be on the home stretch of our PC service. Unfortunately, we will be in the phase of service where during the last 3 months we aren’t allowed to leave our site… so, we’re learning to celebrate when we can and be flexible with times and how we celebrate.
            I don’t know what to say though about a year in Lesotho. Our year of official volunteer-ness will come up in August along with our (3rd!) wedding anniversary. We’ve learned a lot so far. We’ve had a lot of cool, cold and not so cool experiences, played a lot of Scrabble and generally adapted to this as our normal life for now. We agree that when we return “home” to the now, far-away seeming land of America, we will really see how this experience has changed us– especially with another year under our belts. We were joking with some volunteers who are about to finish up their service, about doing a blog talking about the adventure of returning to America, to be mostly appreciated by currently serving volunteers… “sent a kid to the store to buy milk for me, they laughed, took my money and I’m still waiting for them to return…” “confused by people staying up later than 9pm…” “grocery store clerk gives me funny looks when I buy 30 eggs at a time and 2lbs of peanut butter every week…”
            In any case, we are embarking on a new point in our service. We will soon be the “senior” volunteers. Right before we swore in last August, PC showed us a graph that represented the typical emotional highs and lows of PC service for volunteers… of course at that time we were all excited and ready to get out there and serve, so we thought about it, but mainly in terms of “that won’t happen to me.” Naturally, all of that is individual, but a lot of it was true. One of Shane’s year-in comments was about how at first was the learning period and it took some time to really get into his role and used to how things happen here, but now, as I think is typical around the year mark – he’s starting to really get excited, into the groove, see the possibilities, set goals for year two and get used to how things work. As for me, I think most of this time I’ve been experiencing, like many other times in my life, as what can best be described in the words of Grandpa Stanley in his lovely Pennsylvania Dutch accent as “muddling and slopping” ungracefully, through it all, doing the best I can.
            We’ve been keeping a few stats during our year in Lesotho, and we’ve considered doing a little betting pool or something of what they’ll be after 2 years. So far, we’ve played 112 games of Scrabble (counting one on the plane over here), eaten 22 kgs of Peanut Butter (almost 50 lbs!), and gotten 21 care packages (see, I wasn’t kidding, you guys are amazing!). We were counting the wine, but stopped doing that because of counting boxes/bottles etc… didn’t work out. Shane has read 13 books and I’ve read 20 (we should be picking up our reading with the winter, but we’ve been busier and tired and since we got the laptop… we’ve been indulging in the guilty pleasure of movies). We probably should be counting eggs we’ve eaten too as that will likely be an impressive number- but we’re not sure we want to know!

I’ll wrap it up there, but there’s a little tribute to our year marker of arrival in country – and more talk about my birthday, vacation and winter in Lesotho! We’ll take some nice Indian Ocean pictures and try to get them up for next time.
In the meantime, we are thinking about you guys, and hope you are all doing splendidly!
Hugs from Lesotho,
Carol and Shane       


  1. Again, I love reading these, and you guys are rad. Happy belated B-day!

  2. Thanks, you are also rad! and so glad you are still reading:-)