Monday, August 6, 2012

Begin - Dust Month...

Dear Friends and Family,

Hope all is well with you guys "up there" as we move into August. August in Lesotho is know as "dust month" with a lot of wind - and topsoil in the air... but hopefully it will also start to warm up a bit. I noticed the buds on one of the plum trees is starting to turn into a flower, so that is a good sign right? It did rain a last night, so hopefully that will help with the dust, for now anyways. Another interesting thing from yesterday, is that our house was caught in the middle of a swarm of bees! The guys that I have been working with were just talking about August being the time to collect bees, and here they were swarming our house. We almost started our coal stove - thinking the smoke would make them decide our house was not ideal - but by the afternoon, they had decided to move on anyway.

No photo this week, sorry - I used them all up last week! The power was out again at the office from Wednesday last week until now, 11:30 Monday morning - so, sorry if my correspondence has still been lagging.  I'm actually taking off to a training workshop tomorrow for the brand new CHED 12's who "get their V" (official volunteer-hood) today. So, I'll be gone for most of this week. Also, next week, Shane and I will be happily celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary - we're not sure how, because we don't have money right now to travel, but something fun and suited to our current financial status. I'll try to keep this post relatively short, not a lot of newsy tidbits, but I'm looking forward to finishing my book The Challenge for Africa and starting a "fun" book by Tony Hillerman (great recommendation, by one of my former collegues in Bozeman!) with his great descriptions of the American Southwest that rival those of Barbara Kingsolver. Yesterday, of course, was baking day - I made biscuits and gravy "hot pockets," cinnamon-raisin-swirl scones, peanut butter bread, and ciabatta bread. At the same time I was making the bread, Shane was doing this interval training excercise method called Tabata - it was interesting to watch and I thought it was great that the excercise rhymed with ciabatta... yes, we do need more entertainment!

Last time I forgot to share with you a culture experience that happened to Shane that he felt would be great to write about. Two weeks ago, he went to the village of his supervisor to do some project work. In the meantime, his supervisor decided that it was time to slaughter a goat. They proceeded to do that with a group of other guys. He noticed some differences in slaughtering techniques, but I'll spare you the details of those! One of the major differences is that Basotho like to eat the blood and the organs of the animal. So, when they had finished butchering the goat, catching the blood and whatnot; some of the offal went inside - because those were the parts that are only eaten by the women. Meanwhile, outside, the men (Bo-Ntate) cooked up the entrails that are for men only, after they were cooked up Shane was honored with a nice chunk of goat liver and a little bit of intestine. He has been a much better sport about those things than I have during our service! Most of you know that I barely eat meat anyway, and for those of you that remember my childhood, even then I grew up asking; "what kind of meat is in that?" Part of this was being semi-raised on the farm where, goat, sheep, rabbit... were not unsual dinner fare. Here, Shane has also eaten chicken feet or, "run-aways" - which are quite a delicacy. Pig's knees/feet are also big. I've got a great quote from one of my collegues (who knows more about American Pop-culture than I do) said, "I wish they would put me on Fear Factor, I would make so much money! 'Ox brain' is a feast! Intestines - bring them on!"  So, there is that story.
I want to share a little bit about some of the other people that live here in town, that are not Basotho. Most Doctors (of the less than 100 in the country, counting our PC Medical Officer and one of the PCVs who is a retired Dr) in Lesotho are not Lesotho nationals - for example, in our district there are 2 Congolese doctors and one of our closer acquaintences who is a Rwandan. When we first arrived we had the opportunity to meet a really great Zimbabwean doctor as well, before he rotatated back to Maseru. I have also met a few nurses around the district from Kenya, and there is also a Nigerian family in town. It has been really interesting to talk to them a little bit about their stories and how they came to Lesotho. Especially the Rwandan doctor shared with me some of his life story, and it really moved me! It was really inspiring too, especially how he framed it - that his previously hard times (beyond most anything most of us can imagine) and he used it as motivation to really build himself up to where he is now. I am not going to write about the details here though. However, the book As We Forgive was already on my list, but after that, it has been moved up several notches!Other international people that live here are pretty much exclusively here to run businesses. There is a small community of Chinease maybe about 20 people, that run several of the shops. They compete directly with the community of Pakistanis who are maybe about 15-ish and run a lot of the other main shops in town. We haven't had as much opportunity to talk to them, I think both communities stick to themselves a lot.

I think we'll leave it there for now. Again, how you all are doing well and we always look forward to hearing from you and news from home. Stay cool and hugs from Lesotho,

Carol and Shane

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