Tuesday, August 17, 2010
PC Caveat: In no way was the event that I attended a political rally of any sort.
Ok with that out of the way lets talk about the random stuff that happens up here in the highlands of Africa. Rumors had been circulating all week about His Excellency President Zuma visiting my village. Why here might you say? Well due to the joint business venture “water project” between the governments of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa I guess you could say he has some interest. With phase II of the project about to be underway what a perfect time for His Excellency to check where a good portion of his countries money is being spent. Friday was crazy. Six helicopters came in an out all day dropping of government ministers. Finally after a long while waiting in the hot sun His Excellency landed right in front of me in two South Africa choppers. It was pretty cool. President Zuma then left to go on a tour. As fate would have it we would run in together later that day at the feast. The accommodation was excellent and all the free gourmet food you could eat! I ate lunch literally less then 3 feet away from President Zuma. It was a surreal feeling because I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to get within 10 city blocks of President Obama. After lunch I went out on the balcony to enjoy the view of the water and out walked the President. I did not want to bother him because he was giving a speech for Lesotho TV. All in all it was a very cool experience that just sort of happened. Oh and the all you can eat lunch buffet didn’t hurt! On a side not the new volunteer arrived in a village close by. He has a lot of energy and I look forward to working with him on community projects in the near future. Mozambique blog and pictures to come soon!
Thursday, August 5, 2010
So my winter holiday started with a bang. After some World Cup action in Bloemfontein I went back to my site to tie up some loose ends. Before I knew it my favorite expat holiday was almost upon me. The original plan was to have a big 4th party at my friends house down in the lowlands, but that fell apart. So we decided to have the bash up at my house. To celebrate the red, white and blue I decided it would be great to get a fariki (pig). Disclaimer: There is no way I can possibly describe the blood, sweat, and tears that went into obtaining this pig, trust me. Unfortunately getting a pig last minute in my village is tough so I went off on an adventure to the camp town to procure one. My friend’s host mother raises pigs so I figured I could get one from her. Upon arrival she informs me that the recent snow killed all four of her piglets so she didn’t want to sell her remaining ones… err. She told me of another house that had some pigs for sale. She woke me up at 7am to go to look at them only to find that they were to small and overpriced, back to the drawing board. I interrogated her some more and she informed me of a man who was selling a pig on the other side of town. This guy had a medium sized pig for a decent price… now we are getting somewhere. I told him that I would purchase the pig if I couldn’t find a bigger one. He complied and said he would take the pig out of the sty and start giving it some feed to start plumping it up. This is where things get crazy. A man jumps into the stye with a lasso and starts tying the thing up. The pig is squeeling like a banshee, rather ear piercing. Now imagine that the pigsties are made out of rock with no doors. He proceeds to grapple with the beast and throw it over the wall, ouch! The pig comes untied and the ntate (father) is having a hard time getting it under control. The ‘me (mother) gets fed up runs up to the pig, grabs it by the ears, puts it in its place, and ties it up like a rodeo pro, I was impressed. So the journey continued to try to find a bigger pig. I met another ‘me who worked at the school and raised pigs their. She had a real prize winner to sell me, this thing was a beauty, but to pricey. I gave it serious contemplation, but just couldn’t do it. I went back to my friends house again just to look at her ‘me’s pigs again, wishing I could just take one of those. They were perfect, but as I said due to the piglet infanticide and pregnancy of the other pig those were not options. Then I spied a perfect sized pig that belonged to the house next door. It was the right size, that was the one I wanted! Ooops another road block…. Let me explain. In Lesotho the Cows and sheep belong to the ntates (men) and the pigs belong to the bo’me (women). I talked to the father who owned the pig and told him my sad story about wanting to celebrate the 4th. He told me he could not sell the pig without his wife’s consent, but that he would if he could. After about an hour of bartering I told him that I could replace his pig with a smaller pig and throw him some rands to make up for the difference. After a long conversation with his daughter and phone call to his wife who was in Maseru he caved in and we made the deal! Now to get the pig from the other side of the village and deliver it to this ntate. Now I have transported several nku (sheep) since I have been in Lesotho and they are easy. I had to pay this other ntate a buck to help me move this thing across the town, way to get the villagers attention as its squeeling the entire way. Everyone was laughing as they watched the lahkua sp? (White man) tap this pig on the but with a stick. Anyway mission accomplished. Anyway the bus was coming so I had to hurry up. We went through the same fiasco getting this bigger pig out of its sty. Went through the same fiasco getting it to the bus stop as everyone stared in awe at me trying to wrestle this pig down. Finally the bus came… this is the part I was waiting for. So the bus has a few small compartments underneath. Perhaps we can put in there? For a few dollars the driver didn’t seem to mind. Imagine myself trying to lift up this pig with a few strangers I recruited and jamming it into this little compartment. Sorry PITA, not really the best situation I know, but TIA. The funny part was that it was more expensive for the pig to travel back to my site then it was for me. After a couple of hours we made it back to my village. Time for the last leg of the journey I thought. Well you imagined it correctly, as soon as we opened the hatch this thing jumps out and starts running around all over the place. Luckily some of my police officer friends saw me in distress and ran over to help me. Its only a 5 minute walk to my house, but this time it took well over 40 minutes… pigs are stubborn. We finally made it back to my house, tied it up to a post, and relaxed. At this point I didn’t need to convince myself that I deserved a cold beer.
The next day my friends and I woke up to finish our business with the pig. Dad, lets just say good ole’ Billy Gruehl would have been impressed with the haste we made of skinning, cleaning and dressing this thing! After that we had to head down to the dam to catch the boat we charted. People don’t believe me when I tell them I have one of the most beautiful sites in PC. We sailed from my village on the reservoir of the second largest dam in Africa. The water was dead flat and the views of the mountains were stunning. We hung a huge American flag from the canopy and cruised for a few hourse to another village, ate lunch and then returned. When we got back the sun was setting and it was time to start the brie. That day while we were on the boat my welder friend made me a roasting stand for the pig, so freaking cool. (See Picture below) We had a true USA pig roast in the mountains of Lesotho, it was awesome. The next morning we woke up and made eggs, home fries, and pulled pork for breakfast it was great. I even had a few Budweisers I brought back from SA that I shared with my friends. If we were just watching some NFL I would have felt right at home. It truly was a great way to spend a great American holiday abroad! Thanks to all of my friends who came and for mom and dad who helped out with the pig. Members of PC Lesotho ED 10’ thank you! Hope you enjoy the pictures, in a few days I will post another blog about my trip to MOZAMBIQUE RAWR!!!!!
Friday, June 25, 2010
So the first half of the school year has ended and I find myself getting into all sorts of things. I’m back at my site and finishing up my basketball hoop project. The welding is finally complete and all I have to do now is paint the hoops and backboards! Take a look at the photos and let me know what you think. A lot of planning, designing and hard work has gone into them so I hope you enjoy them as much as the students will. When I got back to my site all I wanted to do was take a hot shower and go to bed. Unfortunately after waiting two hours for the water to heat up nothing came out when I turned it on. Today I grabbed my friend Ntate Makhotsa and we tore off a side panel of the house and were able to repair a pipe that came apart, gotta love the cold snowy weather in Thaba-Tseka to wreck havoc on your plumbing. So today I should be all good, we will see. Besides having to grade stacks of papers what else has been going on?
Before I went to South Africa LHDA held a big party and BBQ with the Lodge for the opening ceremonies of the World Cup. It was really a lot of fun and the food was great. It was a nice way to celebrate with all of my friends around the village since everyone had been anticipating that moment for a long time. Last week I went to Bloemfontein with a few of my friends for some FIFA World Cup action. My supervisor was able to hook us up last minute with a place to stay that was a two minute walk from the stadium! We stayed with a nun who was great as well as very accommodating. We were all able to get tickets to see Slovakia play Paraguay. The game was fun, Paraguay winning 2-0. It was fantastic to see patriots for both sides all decked out in their countries colors, wigs, and all sorts of things. Unfortunately both sides represent red, white, and blue just like the good ole US of A so I was kind of confused as to where I was for a bit. That combined with the fufuzelas (loud horn things) made for a very intense day. Did I mention that Budweiser is the sponsored beer of the 2010 world cup, which also made for a real blast. On a side note there is a McDonalds in Bloemfontein! Quarter Pounders with cheese and egg mcmuffins did well for my psychological health, but not so well for my gastrointestinal… I will leave it at that. We got back to Lesotho and were able to watch the USA beat Algeria in stoppage time to advance them to the next round of the World Cup, so cheers boys!
I am still planning the trip to Mozambique for ten days in the middle of July so if anyone has any travel suggestions I would love to hear them. As of now I am just relaxing and waiting for the next half of the school year to start in August. I am also eagerly anticipating my father and his friend Scotts visit to Lesotho in November, cant wait dad! I hope everyone back home is well and are enjoying the warm and sunny Florida sunshine. I will be snow dodging and trying to get off the mountain as much as PC will allow me so I wont get snowed in =) Sorry for the sporadic post, but my brain has been truly over stimulated after visiting SA. I will edit this as more detail come to mind. Enjoy the photos!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
And just as the second quarter of the school year ends so does any sign of warm weather. Its funny how the seasons can often reflect ones own personal emotions. When I arrived in Lesotho it was stifling, with frequent torrential downpours. In my head I was eager to begin my journey in Africa, yet somewhat cautious and fearful of the unknown. As autumn approached the heat subsided and I could feel myself getting comfortable with my surroundings. Faces became familiar and teaching became routine. Now I find myself 25% done with my teaching assignment. Physically and emotionally exhausted I find the snowfall on the last day of school comical. Is the weather telling me that its time to relax and cool down? I think the next two months will be filled with much self-reflection and eventually excitement towards the third quarter of school where things will surely be heating up as will the weather.
So much for trying to be poetic! So what am I in store for the next two months? Fortunately I have just beaten a three day bout with some sort of stomach bug, glad that’s over! They say the closest friend you make in Peace Corps is the amoeba you bring home. Well if that’s the case I should start thinking of a name for him/her, perhaps Hendrix. On a more exciting note World Cup starts tomorrow! Everyone you see is in complete jubilation, hoping the best for their team. Most Basotho are cheering for Bafana Bafana (South Africa.) As you can bet I will be rooting for good ole team USA, yeehaw! Italy, naturally will be my second team. If all goes well I will be in Bloemfontein on the 20th for a game, which will be exciting. The end of the holiday will find me in the tropical paradise of Mozambique for ten days. Yeah I know Peace Corps life can be pretty sweet sometimes. Like I always say work hard, play hard. In recent news the new CHED 10’ volunteers arrived in the mountain Kingdom on June 4th. I look forward to meeting them and wish them good luck in their CBT training.
Tomorrow there is a huge BBQ here at the lodge to celebrate the opening ceremonies and game between Bafana Bafana and Mexico. Expect many pictures of world cup action as I attempt to infiltrate the soccer hooligan lifestyle, joke. As this month comes to an end I am also eagerly anticipating the 4th of July. You can bet there will be a hog roast, American flag bandanas, Garth Brooks and a movie like Independence Day playing. Someone drink a Budweiser for me and we will be all set, thanks in advance =)
So here I sit writing this blog post. It is frigid outside and it just stopped snowing. Tonight I am having a few village friends over my house for dinner. My Italian friend is coming over later to help me prepare an Italian feast, which I am eagerly anticipating since I can now stomach and hold down food! The menu consists of homemade Italian red sauce, baked rainbow trout and potatoes and homemade garlic bread. Yes, I will take a picture of it. To all of my friends and family back home I hope you are enjoying the summer time. Please think of me every time you go to the beach, take the boat out, eat a slice of pizza, go to Carrabas, or do anything American. For now I will turn on the gas heater and start to prepare this sauce, you know it has to cook all day if you want authentic flavors! Love you guys lots!
PS: I shaved the beard, these pictures are from last week!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
What a great few weeks it has been. The weather is starting to get cold, but that has not curbed all of the action that has been going on in village. Lets try to summarize the past three weeks of my life…
BBQed, ate sheep, ate cow, at cow testicle… mushy but not bad.
Birthday party, many friends, good times.
Dart practice with police, up coming tournament soon, excited!
Another birthday party, more friends, more good times.
Threw an American football, got excited again.
Played wiffle ball, extremely excited.
Met an Italian who worked on dam, cooked homemade sauce together.
Frequently hang out with Italian, made breadcrumb fried trout.
Got paid by Peace Corps, finally, thanks.
15k walk for African Heroes day, inside tour of the dam, BBQ, party!
Continued work on bball hoops, still keeping fingers crossed, still excited!
Trip planned for Maseru for District Aids meeting, too much travel.
Built shelf for spices above stove, Bob Villa is jealous.
Toenail is growing back.
Ate KFC ice cream, delicious.
Starting exam testing, looking forward to break.
Namibia or Mozambique?
Went fishing for the first time, caught worms, no luck…
World Cup soon, want a ticket, Bloemfontein game hopefully.
Newbies arrive in a week.
Im getting old.
As you can see things have been busy. Sorry I didn’t go in to detail but I have a busy day of traveling tomorrow and just wrote down random stuff that came from my head. Hope you enjoyed the post and the pictures!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Well hello again! I will preface this blog post like all others and apologize for my lack of updates. With that being said what has been going on in my life. After the trip to Durban it was time to get back to work, which honestly was not easy. It was amazing to me that after less then six months I had forgotten about all of my modern day conveniences that I had left behind in the states. Unfortunately Durban quickly reminded of everything that I once had =) No worries though after a week or two back in my new home country I was quickly reminded of how I can live without them and with that as a mental comfort I was back to work. So what have I been working on? I have been put in charge of coaching our basketball team, which has been a lot of fun. Playing with the kids is great and the exercise is an added bonus I suppose. We make the most out of our practice facility, which is essentially a netball court. Think basketball without the dribbling and no backboards on the hoops. So my new pilgrimage has been to construct some new hoops for my Ballers, woot! I’ve made friends with the local welder who does work for the school and he has been great. Yes, he is the one who helped my dream of a BBQ come to fruition. Anyway he reminds of my dad. I showed him a rough sketch of a design I had and he went to work adding things and making sure all of my angles and measurements were correct. I was able to get an old pole from the school that’s 20ft long. My friend cut it in half and I had him weld on some plates we came up with to the tops of each. (See Photos) From the pictures you can see I also framed out the size of the backboard out of black scrap metal that was left over from student beds that were made from the boarding. My friend is going to mend all of that together and we will have two frames we can attach to the backboards when I get them. You can also see that I managed to snake two brand new Dunlop Basketball rims! The idea is that the metal frames will be about 3ft away from the pole. The frames will be holding the rim and backboard and will be connected to the main pole and attached at the metal plates we welded on. If my vision comes true they will look like NBA hoops but sized down for high school basketball. Anyway as you can tell we have been putting a lot of work into this and I am really excited about the outcome.
My big project that will take place in the near future involves a few of my friends who are in the CHED community health and economic development sector of Peace Corps. I have been picking their brains about building raised gardens and we have come up with something that is going to benefit the school and the children in countless ways. I want to build gardens throughout the school compound. My school has 5 forms A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, D, and E. These equate to 8th through 12th grade. I want each of these classes to have their own raised garden that will be monitored throughout the year by their class teacher. Why build these gardens? The first reason is to give all of the children in the school an additional source of nutrition. My school does a great job in feeding the kids, but additional sources of nutrition are always a bonus especially when you are dealing with OVCs (orphans and vulnerable children). It will also help the kids learn about gardening, which is something the agriculture teachers can use as an outside teaching tool. The class teachers can also have competitions to see which class can grow the most vegetables and give prizes to the ones who do the best. I have learned that competition among kids is great and makes them really try hard, its awesome to see how hard these kids work for a sticker, I can only imagine what they would do for some fresh vegetables. I was also thinking that if there are extra vegetables they can be sold throughout the year to fund other school projects. This project would also serve as a barometer for how my greenhouse project later down the road will go. The best part about the project is that its entirely free. They are pretty much built out of stones, some wood, aloe, old tin cans and cardboard. Materials of which can all be found right here in village! I have even talked to my friend who works with the UN WFP (World Food Programme) and she is trying to secure me a few hundred seeds of assorted vegetable species. Keep your fingers crossed this is a big undertaking, but I have the school staff and other support from other PCVs.
Lastly I am still trying to sort out problems I am having with the PC WWS (World Wise Schools Program). The program matches volunteers with classrooms abroad to classrooms in the US so they can be pen pals. The correspondent I was matched with has not replied to me so I have been sending emails to PC Washington and with not much nudging they are going to give me a new correspondence. My kids were really happy to hear this and I will let you know how their writing is. I will even try to post some of the questions and responses I get in a couple of months. I’m sure they are going to be great.
Day to day life here is going. Everyday I feel more confident in the work I am achieving and the direction that my life is going in. Last weekend we had a Thaba-Tseka sports weekend here and 5 other schools showed up. The competition was from Thursday to Sunday and the students competed in soccer, netball, volleyball, and basketball. Our school did pretty well and we are sending a couple of the teams to another qualifying match in two weeks. If they win that they get to go to Maseru to play for the national games, pretty cool. I need to get those hoops built so my team can really practice =) On Friday I organized another BBQ and collected money from a lot of the teachers around the district and bought another sheep. It was cool getting to meet the other teachers from around the district and see what projects and teaching methods they have been working on. Socializing here in Africa has not only been fun, but has also proven to be a great way to network with people, seriously.
I also want to throw a shout out to my fellow Thaba-Tseka friend Oz who is going home next week after serving his two years. We are gonna miss you bud. On a lighter note a baby threw up on me while I was on public last week, oh Lesotho. I made calzones. I made the best brownies in the world, thanks Mom for the Funfetti icing! I am getting really good at pool. That’s about all for now I will post some more random musings later when they come to me. Yes, it is getting super cold here and my masotho friend who doesn’t speak English hand gestured to me that he thinks that it will snow next week. He probably is better then the meteorologist in Florida lol. Love and miss you guys a lot. Khotso!
PS: My Students like to dance! Durban Pt 2 is coming.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Here are a few more Durban pictures! Ill continue the vacation story soon. The pictures are of me hanging with some Zulus I met on North Beach at the Indian Ocean in Durban, my friends and I at uShaka water park, Sharks Rugby game and the last one is of the uShaka aquarium. Enjoi!