Hello Dear Readers,
We haven't had too much in the way of extraordinary news lately, so I'm a little bit devoid of qualtiy material at this time... but, I've got a few photos for you guys and I'll give you a nickle tour of my/our walk home.
First the basics:
Weather - spring, with lovely late afternoons, some overcast days and even a few scattered rain showers. The warmer weather is making all of the peach trees bloom, I love seeing the trees everywhere covered in beautiful pink blossoms!
Garden - a few things are starting to come up, like peas, carrots (yay!), leafy greens and onions. Our tomato and pepper starts are taking off in our window sill. We are trying not to go overboard on planting in case we have another several month dry spell where we are watering by hand. Sister Magdalena has also asked me to help her revitalize the Sisters' greenhouse - so, that should be fun
Cooking and baking - Sunday baking included baked doughnuts from 101cookbooks (favorites!), cinnamon raisin scones, banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and rosemary/carmelized onion focaccia bread. We just bought 1/2 a broiler chicken from a local farmer and will roast that tonight, which will be a treat. There really isn't a lot of produce options lately, we've been able to buy fairly expensive tomatoes, so I've made several dishes based on those with chard and onions. I also made mixed brown rice and quinoa and used it as the base for brown rice and sesame pancakes (also from 101cookbooks) and put the tomato, spinach, onion topping on them - that was pretty delicious and I am always happy to stumble upon a new recipe where I can use quinoa. Right now, oranges are pretty much the only fruit that is available, and it has been the main available fruit for several months now... we are a bit "over" them. So, we've been able to find the occasional banana which is nice (and goes with all of the peanut butter) and a truck was in town yesterday evening selling tangerines out of the back. They aren't that different from oranges, but it is some variety, so we were happy. Unfortunately, Lesotho doesn't seem to be big on Farmer's Markets that you can find in a lot of countries. We picked up another cabbage at the shop last week and we got it all prepared and are attempting to make sauerkraut. This is not something people are familiar with here, though they are used to a salad that is very much like pickled beets. Shane was excited about the idea of sauerkraut when he read somewhere that it helps with muscle recovery. He has really been training hard lately and wants any help he can get!
Shane is reading - Pathologies of Power by Paul Farmer and just finished A Stroke of Insight (which he really enjoyed). Carol is reading - Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (serious details about Chinease footbinding included!), and just finished Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Running a B & B, For Dummies (think about that title, really...)
Projects - are still going, no major recent developments. Shane is really looking forward to the mats finally arriving for his academy. Also, he just started his Jiu Jit Su instructor training program and he's excited about that. I am making plans to go to a school tomorrow and talk to the primary school kids (mainly grades 5,6 & 7) about integrated pest management - I've tried to make some nice, colorful posters that are appropriate for this age group in a non-native English speaking classroom in rural Lesotho... wish me luck. It is a sythesis of a lot of things that I learned in my undergrad, that was fun. One of our fellow volunteers wrote a text message describing some of the things he's seen in his village involving Ag chemicals - including one woman spraying a peach tree with Atrazine to kill the aphids! (Atrazine is a pretty hardcore broadleaf herbicide...) I'm also sure that she wasn't wearing any kind of personal protective equiptment either! I was only planning to touch on pesticides with the kids, but I have been rethinking that since I heard that story.
So, now for a little tour of my walk home from the other day:
Below is the building that is the primary/only supplier of agricultural inputs for the district. As you can see the building is not in good shape any more after the roof collapsed from the snow a couple of weeks ago. There are still a few small shops that sell seeds for gardens, but the bigger bags of seed, fertilizer etc... were only available here. I speculate that their inventory didn't hold up well either, but I haven't heard details.
The 3 photos below are all pretty much from the same spot, but I was writing an email to a friend and realized how different it is to look at the ground here. I know I've talked about how much we walk, but I wanted to give you guys a sense of what we see when we are walking if we look at the ground. I am remiss though, because I should have taken a better photo of the footpaths and the soil compaction and erosion - maybe another day. Below you can see horse manure (all kinds of manure is everywhere - we really don't even "see" it any more - I'm suprised I remembered to take a photo of it), some grass and some bare stone. Along with some of the shops including the one that is just a black plastic canopy - it sells things like earings, hats and scarves. The second photo was just on the other side of the first one, you can see how much plastic garbage is embedded in the grass, including a lid for "Chicken Livers" which people actually enjoy eating...
The last and bigger one is my favorite. It shows not only the steep downhill and the path, the empty "kraal" (corral) where livestock spend nights and the exposed water line - but you can really see a typical patch of ground and it is right on the path. Let's play I spy... broken glass in three colors, Coke can, bones, used Colgate tube, used condom (actually that one is not there this time, but they are extremely common to spot among the other things - at least people are using them... right?)
When we arrive home from work, it is at about the same time when the kids are sent to collect water from the public tap. The first photo below is of two girls actually at the tap. I really love the one below it though - how cute are those kids... really look at their smiles! The girl is pretty "traditional Basotho" looking carrying the bucket of water back home on her head and wearing the blanket. Just FYI, the back left side of the boy's shorts is almost completely torn out...
Also, we both think of you all often and hope you are doing well, and still enjoying my ramblings and photos of Lesotho.
Carol and Shane
PS - a shout out to my Mommy for her upcoming birthday, we both hope it is all that you dreamed of and more!