They call it “African time”

It’s pretty common for countries outside the US to have a relatively slower pace of life. Here in Lesotho, my counterpart Ntate Sam calls this slow pace African time. Some days we simply don’t work. Travel can take unnecessary hours, even going a short distance because you have to stop and talk to people. There’s no hurry to do anything. If you arrange a meeting at 9am, people might show up around 11. Church services can last as long as 5 or 6 hours. Funerals last all day.

I can tell I’ve adjusted to this African time. I walked two hours to visit a volunteer and it was nothing. Going to town on the weekend takes 45min/1hr and it seems so close! When Peace Corps staff take days to reply to me or my counterpart just doesn’t show up it doesn’t bother me.

Even though I’m adjusting to this lifestyle, it’s still very frustrating. Sometimes I go days without doing anything. Times like these are very hard. You read, you take a walk… practice Sesotho. Say hi to friends, visit the market. Cook. Clean. Sit with my family…

It gets really old. I think this aspect of Lesotho life is the hardest for me to adjust to. People in my town spend hours a day just sitting in the sun doing nothing. It’s a great lesson about just slowing down and enjoying life. What’s so bad about doing nothing anyway? It’s always a negative thing in America, but there’s really nothing wrong with spending hours just sitting. It can be really nice.

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Hana juale ke na le liphoto feela

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Cow ponders life.

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My counterpart and I hike out to a remote site to provide nutrition education and apply for a grant to support cooperative farming. We met with World Food Program to discuss the success of the villages, the challenges, and other concerns.

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The WFP truck gave us a ride back to site and saved us the hike!

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A lone hut on the mountain side.

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Gorgeous plateau ~7,000 ft above sea level.

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Fields nestled in the valleys.

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Spring is coming :) plowing

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Pula trying to drink my beer.

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Hitched a ride in a semi truck :)

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Abuti ea ka ke Katleho. Little bro feeding Pula.

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Kombis on their way to the taxi rink to work for the day.

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Puppy-pillow sandwich. Yumm.

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I’m back.

During the month of September, Peace Corps volunteers had to leave Lesotho because of political unrest. We stayed in South Africa for over two weeks, waiting for things to calm down. We finally returned to site and I’m very happy!! I missed my place and my friends. When I got back I adopted a puppy :) his name is Pula, pronounced poo-lah, meaning rain in Sesotho. Rain is part of the Lesotho national motto: khotso, pula, nala, meaning peace, rain, prosperity.

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The little guy is only 6 weeks old and he’s a handful. Right now he isn’t big enough to come hiking with me so my family babysits him while I’m out.

The local reaction to my keeping him in the house ranges from curiosity to shock. Dogs simply don’t stay indoors here. So far I feel like he’s safe and overall accepted by the community. It’s been fun showing my family how kind dogs can be when you care for them.

Being away from site was really rough on me, I didn’t feel up to writing but I’m feeling better now :) hopefully it’ll be more regular now.

Salang Khotso!!

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Love from the Mountain Kingdom <3

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Puppy Adoption

In Lesotho people simply do not keep dogs as pets. Dogs are beaten and stoned in my village. Owners do not feed their dogs, rather dogs are left to fend for themselves.

Trying to adopt a dog here isn’t simple. I’ve divided it into several stages.
Stage one:
Explaining that in America we love animals, especially cats and dogs but some people even keep snakes and spiders as pets. I talked to my counterpart about how much I love dogs and how I want one. I asked my family’s permission to have a dog and they said yes. #BOOM
Phase two:
I’m currently in this stage. Finding the right puppy. A store owner I’m friendly with recently had a litter. I’ve stopped to admire the dogs a few times and today he said I could have one for free. I’m trying not to get too attached in case my puppy doesn’t survive long enough to take home.
Phase three:
getting my family and community used to the idea of me feeding my dog. Also getting them used to me letting the dog inside (which will be harder).
This will probably never happen. People will always think I’m very weird for having a dog. Even stranger for not beating it. And possibly offended that I feed it. And downright disgusted that I let it inside.
Some volunteers have had animals killed by community members. Partly out of jealousy and partly because they just don’t think it’s right.

I’ll keep you all updated as the story of my new best friend unfolds.

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Walk to Ha Nyane

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A couple road signs explaining why it takes so long to go a short distance in Lesotho.

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See how the road winds.

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Frozen natural spring.

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A cell tower and power lines. A small hut in the middle with access to neither, living in poverty. One of the ironies of a developing nation.

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Mr. Piggy all pimped out with his car.

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Gorgeous plowed farm land.

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Controlled burning of old crops.

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Mountainscape and traditional hut.

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The back of some electrician’s truck.

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My shadow.

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Phase II assignments from Peace Corps, the Cab, and making dinner.

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All that was left of my papa, moroho le nama when I remembered to take a photo. Delicious!!

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Boys Don’t Cry

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My little brother was hanging out with his older sister and me as we worked on homework. He took a pen and kept try to write in our notebooks. I eventually gave him his own piece of paper, not wanting to deter his interest in school work.
He began writing out A B C D, repeatedly in his adorable 4-year-old hand writing. Then he scribbled all over and lost interest in the paper. I decided to entertain him by making a paper airplane. He protested but I insisted. I threw the airplane across the room and looked to him expecting excitement. Instead he rushed to the paper and carefully undid the folds. As he smoothed out the paper I saw a single tear rolling down his cheek. I instantly felt terrible. I realized how important his scribbles were to him. I apologized and my sister was shocked. She told him to stop crying and said I should ignore him. Boys aren’t supposed to cry and adults never have to apologize to children.

But I did apologize. And I think I made it right by giving him a new piece of paper. This was a very foreign thing to do. Often in Lesotho adults and authority figures don’t admit they’re wrong or correct mistakes. If police pull you over for no reason they might hold you for hours then let you go with no apology. Teachers make mistakes marking papers. Parents may give out unjust punishment. Children and subordinates are supposed to accept whatever their authorities do or say without question even when it’s unjust.

My sister brought home her English quiz. She had made two small errors in spelling and grammar but her mark was 68%. She can’t complain. She can only accept and be thankful she passed.

Obviously injustices like this don’t happen to everyone. And certainly this adult behavior is not limited to Lesotho. I have experienced similar issues in America. I think authority can still be held while admitting wrong and correcting mistakes. I hope to exemplify this in my life here in Lesotho. But I’m not just here to teach, I’m here to learn. And my little brother taught me a very important lesson.
It was so cool to see a young child cherish a chance to draw and write. Paper isn’t common. Neither are pens.
This adorable brother of mine, Katleho, taught me a good lesson about resources in Lesotho and the value of being able to write.

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#babysteps

I just got excited because I recognized my host mom’s voice. Then I started thinking about how much moving into a new culture makes you a baby again.
I get really excited when I know how to spell little words or when I recognize what people are talking about. It’s really rough losing your independence. I don’t know how much things should cost, leaving me vulnerable to being taken advantage of. (Which has happened.) It’s rough not knowing the neighborhood, not knowing who to trust yet. I feel childish.

The best way to survive is to laugh at the situation and laugh at yourself. A good sense of humor will get you a long way.

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