|To give you a slight idea of the "TAXIs"|
Hello to our dear readers,
It is always our wish that our posts find our friends and family in good health and happiness. It has been a bit chilly and rainy lately but we are doing our best to keep warm – and again we are happy for how well equipped we are, as you saw in the last post! We are also looking ahead to the upcoming National Election here in Lesotho, it will be happening toward the end of May. The government of Lesotho is set up in a similar fashion to that of England; the English system has had a strong influence on Lesotho in many ways because the country was a British Protectorate until the late 1960's. The Lesotho government has a King, I think we've mentioned him before, King Letsi III and a Queen her name is Mamohato. There is also a Prime Minister who heads the parliament and there are also several political parties (a hard to imagine concept being American!). So, the Prime Minister, as we have learned, has actually overstayed his term in office. He is very popular with some people and we get the impression he is not so popular with others, he has recently broken away from the current ruling party and created his own. This event has created somewhat of a ruckus among the people of Lesotho. I've been hearing from people that the ruling party will always win because it uses government money and infrastructure for its campaigning while the other parties have to fend for themselves. So, we'll see. Fortunately, we are volunteering for a government that has a reputation for taking a lot of measures to ensure the safety of its citizens abroad.
We went on a short vacation last weekend to a gem of a destination here in Lesotho. Despite the over 20 hours (to go a little over 100 miles) and obscene amount of money we spent on public transportation, we had a fun time. We congregated there with 27 other volunteers to celebrate a joint 30th birthday party for two of our fellow CHED 11's. They did a great job choosing the place – Malealea Lodge in the Mafeteng district. They also arranged a “Braii” which is what we Americans call a BBQ and we even made it legitimate for our Peace Corps enhancement by discussing TB on Saturday, which was in fact, international TB day. We can't speak highly enough of the Lodge. The owners have done a model job of eco/cultural tourism. Almost all of the staff were Basotho, they seemed empowered, professional and possessed the cultural knack for hospitality. The ambiance was lovely, the lodge is set in the mountains (surprise!) with beautiful vistas. The landscaping was lovely and the grounds had something a lot of Lesotho doesn't have – Trees! The accommodations ranged in luxury and price but most followed the traditional rondavel design nd contruction. The first night we stayed in one and they had mimicked traditional rock paintings on the walls and the window curtains were made in the same way as the skirts for girls' traditional dancing – with layers of strips of plastic bags. Shane also really liked some of the handicrafts that had been locally made, including some that reused materials in clever ways such as stacking soda cans together to make the base for a table. They incorporated traditional items into the décor in other interesting ways such as using the traditional hat turned upside down as a flower planter. The lodge offered several opportunities to experience local culture, one of them was a beautiful concert of accapella singing, followed by a band featuring instruments made from “found” items as well as impressive dance moves. Many opportunities for tours were offered, and they included everything from multi-day pony treks replete with village stays and towering waterfalls to a tour of the local school. Some of the other volunteers went on a pony trek to see some of the rock paintings but we went with another group to see a beautiful waterfall -Shane even jumped into the pool at the bottom despite the cool temperatures! It was really fun and all of our daily walking paid off when we weren't even tired after our 5 hour hike. We did catch lunch in the coffee shop at the lodge – with REAL coffee and even a splash of Amarula. We followed that up with a couple games of Bananagrams (yes, we know – we really know how to have a good time!) And of course after that is when we got to have real showers, talk about TB and welcome a new decade for our fellow volunteers. So, that is the latest highlight. We really enjoyed Malealea Lodge, it seems if there was one place to get a good taste of Lesotho and feel good about where you are spending your money (they even have a “development trust” that part of their profits go directly to projects in the surrounding communities) Malealea would be a great place to spend a few days. As for us, we have had exposure to many cultural things here and seen schools and villages and ponies – but we still had a great time (except for the taxis! - really, at one point I shared a bench seat with about 4 feet of space with 7 human beings and my backpack for several hours and paid over $10 for it). Looking forward to our adventures next week and possibly another Lesotho getaway for the long Easter weekend.
All our best thoughts to our loved ones,
Carol and Shane
PS - please check out more photos on vacation page