|To melt your hearts!|
Hello Dear Friends and Family,
It's been awhile again - and a lot has happened in the last few weeks! As many of you know and most prominently was that I got sick (with flu?) and had some challenges with that. Including a really misearble 8 hour taxi ride to Maseru, a series of ever-enjoyable encounters with PC medical, traumatic blood draws, allergic reactions, an eye opening experience with some of the top-notch health care in Lesotho, them trying to drown me in IV fluid and so on... I have half a mind to write a bit more about the experience, talking about the quality of care here at one of the best facilities - how it compares to what I see at the government hospital locally, and of course as health care is a big issue in the U.S. right now - what it was like compared to how it likely would have been if I got something like this in America. Let me know what you guys think about that, but I don't think I'm up to it right now. So, that accounts for about 9 days of lapsed time since the last post.
When we got back from Maseru (Shane was diligently with me and amazing! I also got a lot of much appreciated support from some of the Peace Corps staff, as well as really meaningful support of family back home and even several of our Basotho friends here at site), we pretty much hit the ground running with a visit from the upper management of WFP (and even World Vision) Lesotho, it was a really great and productive visit professionally and we had some great social opportunities as well. This was followed by an invite to a WFP meeting in Maseru, so back I went - it was busy, but great! The meeting was really helpful and informative, I had a chance to not only network some more with World Vision but also with an FAO - I'm really hoping that those meetings will also be fruitful in supporting some of the projects that I've been working on. At the same time, I was really welcomed by some of my collegues at WFP and had a great time, eating great food and having great conversation with them after the meetings. The only downside is that Shane was stuck here in Qacha's Nek studying Chemistry... I also got to meet up with one of my PCV friends who lives "up North" and we don't get to see each other very much - it was a great suprise and gave us an opportunity to start thinking about planning a backpacking trip together! She said she got to see all of the PCVs who were recruited to welcome the newest PCV trainees - the 2013 Education volunteers as they landed at the airport. That was pretty exciting news and we are looking forward to welcoming them when they get to their sites in December. On Sunday we got to return from Maseru in brand new cars (like 50km new!) from WFP - very much needed! so, that was also kinda fun. It is a switch from the Toyota Land Cruiser to Nissan Patrols, so we'll see how the Nissan performs in this rugged landscape lacking infrastructure!
Coming back late last Sunday night, I realized that the week ahead would also be busy. Having the opportunity to go to 3 schools and do various activities with the kids - I taught at one school about Integrated Pest Management, at another about HIV/AIDS and the other about Assertiveness. I really love when I have the opportunity to got to the schools! Below are some photos that I took while I was out. The weather has been really changing a lot - sometimes hot and sunny, sometimes misty, rain with SERIOUS thunderstorms, yesterday we had some small-ish hail (Shane was feeling tough because he walked home in it!) The moisture though, has been a real blessing - last year during this time, everyone was hoping for rain that didn't come until the middle of December. People have really been plowing their fields and planting now. I've even noticed that it seems there is a lot of fallow fields that look like they haven't been planted in quite a few years, that are being plowed up and planted. I look at this with a hopeful eye that the food security of Lesotho may improve - at least for this year... If you look closely at the 2nd photo you'll even see a tractor! (Not a real one because it isn't John Deere, but a tractor nonetheless) and you can see the road in the foreground of both photos- this is one of the main roads in the district.
In the meantime my other projects haven't exactly been waiting for me. We had Nutrition Corner this week for the nursing mothers, where we cooked traditional sorghum porridge but added peanut butter to increase the protein for the babies. I was also supposed to resume yoga classes this week on Wednesday but the huge storm required me to cancel it, but we're crossing our fingers that the weather will hold out so we can start on Monday. I'm also working with some local counterparts to try to put together something like a "Farmer's Market" once a month here in the district, so that has been fun, but has been a bit demanding as we start it up. Even the beekeeping project and the water tank project have been missing me, but I met last night with the beekeepers and we worked on their business plan. They got really excited when we put up the estimated annual sales on the cash flow projections!
Shane's counterpart at Snake Park has had some other committments to attend to lately, one being a workshop for grant funding that they are very excited to be recieving, so they haven't been doing a lot of work together with Snake Park. Shane has been working with his team to give several more Fight Like a Girl workshops, which are getting extremely positive responses from both the girls and the teachers. He has also decided to stop his running training program and switch back to the body building program - so, we have to figure out how to get him over 80 grams of protein per day!
So, I think this will influence my activities in the kitchen. However, all of this going to Maseru has meant that we have gotten to eat some treats - like cheese! And avocados, yogurt and mushrooms, so that has been pretty great. I made caramelized onion and mushroom parmesean calzones this week and "ghetto" mozzerella sticks. We had tuna burgers last night with avocado based spread and of course we've had- guacamole! Tonight, egg rolls and this weekend I hope to try my hand at baking German Stollen (fruit) bread, though I think you're supposed to bake it for the winter solstice... It should still be delicious regardless of the time of year.
In other news, we were able to get our cat a rabies shot - which was kind of a relief because I had heard something about a rabies outbreak and it would be really sad for us if something like that happened to Serurubele, so hopefully we are in the clear now. By the way, the vet informed me that he would only give our cat the shot if we promised to vote for Obama - we've had quite a few pro-Obama Basotho approach us here... so, there's some globalization for you! Our garden is coming along, we still have some rabbits/birds/moles eating things, but we have some kale growing up and the tomato seedlings are really taking off, and some beans and squash are starting to come up along with our potatoes. It is so funny being in this early summer mode as we're hearing all about fall up there, even if I go to look up recipes and things online, there is all this talk about pumpkin and fall fare and halloween - it is a bit confusing! Let's see, Shane has finished The Kite Runner and is primarily reading a Chemistry textbook, while I'm still working on The Long Walk to Freedom- Nelson Mandela's autobiography.
I think I'll go ahead and wrap up with that but we look forward to hearing from you and I'll try to not have such a long lapse before my next post - hope you enjoyed our news from Lesotho and we are sending all our best your way!
Carol and Shane