Saturday, August 30, 2014

Traditional Basotho Blankets: Kobos

The Basotho are known for their beautiful blankets. They're super heavy but keep you warm!

   Last year, students at my school performed at a cultural day ceremony in a nearby village.
The air was a little crisp so I wore my seshoeshoe, the traditional dress of Lesotho, and a long, black coat that I hoped would keep me warm.
   Every Masotho in attendance wore a traditional Basotho blanket called a kobo. They were warm and comfy.
   But guess whose little ass froze to death without a kobo? Me.
   The Basotho know the importance of the kobo (koo-boh) because they are known for their colorful, wool blankets. And the blankets are needed here, as winter temperatures can get to below freezing
   The kobo has been a part of the dress here since 1900.
   And it's even becoming quite the fashion accessory in some circles in the southern African region, according to this recent Wall Street Journal article.
   Here are more tidbits about the kobo:

-Women wear kobos, or even regular blankets, around their hips because it is said that the blankets keep their ovaries warm.

-Different color kobos represent different districts (the equivalent of American states). A person wearing a yellow and black kobo will likely be representing the district I live in, Mafeteng.

-Basotho wear kobos, even in the summertime, because they’re just so used to wearing them year-round.

-The kobos cost about $50 USD. They are worth every penny, especially in the wintertime.

   So basically, kobos keep your ass warm. And when the air is a little crisp, you better not be caught without one!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Teaching My Little Boy English (Lots of video!)

   Best thing I've done in this country - hands down - is to teach a toddler how to speak English.
   Katleho is my 5-year-old host brother, and my best Sesotho teacher. I'm his best English teacher.
   Our lessons have been very organic over the course of my two-year service. They started out with simple conversation and phrases. Basic English like greetings, feelings and food.
   Now, Katleho can express himself (I'm hungry), tell me what he wants and needs (I want food) and boss me around (Get out my house!).  
   Sometimes, I record our conversations. Peep my big boy's game:

Video 1

This video was shot around December of last year. We started very organically with simple phrases and greetings like "Good morning" and "How are you?" He picks up on English very quickly. 

Video 2

I shot this video earlier this year, maybe in February. Katleho's English skills were progressively getting better. He'd moved from greetings to simple sentences. Here, he was on his way to school one toasty morning. I love it when he's all clean and neat. I just wanna gobble him up!

Video 3

I probably shot this video around April or May. He was nervous. We'd been speaking English full-time at this point. I also began reading Katleho bedtime stories every night. He loves Dr Seuss and Barney books. 

Video 4

Sorry for the poor video quality. Katleho was annoying me a little bit with his aggressiveness but he is a smart kid. You see him here teaching his buddy, Motseba, how to speak English. He often does this with his playmates in village.

Video 5

OK, I was a little less prickly here but you hear the kids, especially Katleho. That dude is clever!

Video 6

And here's my boo teaching his classmates their ABCs.

   Studies show that children learn languages better than adults because their brains are more fluid and they're not hard set on the rules and rudiments of grammar like adults are. I wrote about this during my journalism days.
   That's why shows like Dora the Explorer work well with children. 
   Makes sense with my little boy, too.
   Nightly bedtime stories have now replaced our UNO ritual.
   He loves Sesame Street and fairy tales. I often ask him in English questions about the stories: What color is his hat? What do you see on the page? Is she happy or sad?
   He answers as best as he can until the last page.
   "Read again," he'll say. "I want another book."

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Around the world in five plates!!

   Sure, I live in Lesotho but I’ve very been very blessed to visit other places all in the comfort of my tiny hut. And with the convenience of my dinner plate.
   Case in point:

I visit India most Sundays with these curry dishes I make:
I make my own curry powder by mixing 2-3 tablespoons of coriander, tumeric, cumin, ginger, mustard, chili, salt, cinnamon, garlic, onion, cayenne pepper and bay leaves.

Never been to Italy but eating pasta and bread takes me there:

I usually make pasta on Tuesday evenings so I can have it with leftover bread from lunch at school.

Couscous and chic peas are my passports to the Mediterranean:

Chic peas are my fave beans and I can only find them at a grocery store in the capital, Maseru.

Surprisingly, I've never visited America’s neighbor to the south, Mexico, but I go there culinary-wise with Mexican rice and beans:
I get my Mexican spices from this really nice spice shop in my camptown, or shopping district.

This Thai peanut noodles dish was my passport to Asia:
I love Thai food and this meal is a gem when I don’t feel like cooking a big meal.

   So, I’ve only been to Paris, India, Lesotho, South Africa and Mozambique. But culinarily, I’ve been all over the globe. 
   I get to tick more places off my travel bucket list-even if I’ve only gone there on a plate and not a plane!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Makings of Our Water Pump (A Pictorial)

Photo: For the past two years, I've made and sold jewelry with teachers and students at a poor elementary school in a rural African village to raise funds for a much-needed water pump. Today (and on the first day back to school!) we accomplished our goal!!! On behalf of my school and village, I want to thank EVERYONE who made this service project a success! There were many challenges, but the rewards are oh so sweet!! Ke lebohile haholoholoholo! (I am very thankful!) #gracious #joyful #hardworkpaysoff #thankful
This much-needed water pump took nearly two years of blood, sweat and tears to become a reality! Here's a look at what it took to get here:

The machine and I! They say third time's the charm and it was in our situation. My school hired our third contractor to construct our pump. He began work on my birthday in July. It was a nice birthday gift. 

We hired women in the village to help collect water for the contractors. The contractors used these drums of water to soften the ground. Made it easier for them to work.

Here is another look at the machine.

Contractors worked day and night. They'd start drilling the bore hole around 6 a.m. and end around 11 p.m. 

Here is one of the men drilling the bore hole. It was freezing as hell!

They drilled about 60 meters down.

This blue soil means that the contractors found water.

Here's the pump. It's almost finished!

Teachers had to attach the hand to the pump.

Re na le metsie! (We have water!) Teachers are using the pump for the first time.

We have to lock this bad boy up at the end of the day because we have haters. Not that we're Jesus or anything but people get jealous anytime you succeed, especially in these villages, so we had to get a lock to protect our pump.

Students are washing  their hands with the pump.

Again, we thank you all for helping us to help ourselves. Your support of our craft project helped us to put up the $500 USD Peace Corps required from us for the pump. Thank you again!!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Drums, please! (World Wise Post)

This blog post is part of a series of activities that I'm doing for the Peace Corps' World Wise program. The program links Basotho and American schools through various activities such as blogs like this one and friendly letters.

Here's footage of one of my students drumming on an old water tank. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Quirky Signs I’ve Seen Here

Tea, coffee or both, but food first! Saw this sign on the way to the southern part of the country!

   Interesting. Weird. Quirky. I’ve seen it all on many a sign here in Lesotho. 
   Case in point:

Ass meat pies: 

I eyeballed this sign as I was eating fish and chips (not fries!) a while back. The funny thing is that it’s probably the best thing on the menu at that eatery, lol.

God Taxi sign: 

Saw this on the taxi after a stressful day that included a medical visit in the capital city. I love how Jesus “has” a phone number. No, I didn’t try to call it.

And speaking of taxis:
I'm sure the "Ass" here is short for "Association" but let's leave it as it is. Makes for a better story:)

West Syde: 

Saw this while on my way to the Peace Corps office. Thought it was funny. And I love how side is spelled.

What do you think? Which is your fave? What quirky things have you seen where you are lately?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Footage of my students! (World Wise Post)

This blog post is part of a series of activities that I'm doing for the Peace Corps' World Wise program. The program links Basotho and American schools through various activities such as blogs like this one and friendly letters.

I sing a lot with my students and one song that they love is the Barney classic, "Clean Up." Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Footage of a Funeral Procession

This is footage of a funeral procession that occurred in my village a few months back. The villagers are making their way up the mountain into my village, where the deceased lived. His daughter was one of my students, and he was a musician, hence all of the dancing and singing. He was a miner who worked in South Africa and died of TB. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

How the Children Play (World Wise Post)

This blog post is part of a series of activities that I'm doing for the Peace Corps' World Wise program. The program links Basotho and American schools through various activities such as blogs like this one and friendly letters.

   Hi boys and girls! How are you? 
   Today’s post is about playing! In Sesotho, the language spoken here, the word for play is bapala. Say it with me…bah-pah-lah.
   I’ve written about how the children here play before but I think it’s a topic I want to revisit.
   Read on:

The children in my village fashioned this fallen aloe tree into a see saw:

How creative is this!

They also etch games in dirt:

They use pebbles or old tins as markers when they play these kinds of games.

Children here also like to play with old tires:

Here's my host brother rolling an old tire he found nearby.

They also make stilts out of old cans and garbage bag liners!
Photo: My host brother's managed to make stilts out of old cans and garbage bag string
I thought this was so cool when my host brother, Tsepiso, showed me his new toy!

They also play with wood:

This is a "horse" that my host brother made out of a tree! (It's actually a fence on my host mother's property.)

   Basotho children play all of the time! They have just as much fun as you do in America!
   Here is another blog post I did about how children play Lesotho. Check it out here.
   What do you play with in America? What are some of your favorite games?

Is there anything more specific you'd like to know? Please let me know. I'd be happy to answer your questions.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hotel Jiggetts (aka my house)

   Like peeing in a bucket?
   How about reading by paraffin lamp?
   I'm sure you just love bucket baths, right?
   Well, if you like any of the above, then Hotel Jiggetts surely is the place for you to rest your loins!
   Hotel Jiggetts is a traditional Basotho house called a rondaval. It's a hut with a thatched, or straw, roof, that is traditionally used for cooking in Basotho culture.
   Hotel Jiggetts has no running water or electricity, but as the proprietor, I've made it as cute and comfy as can be for you!
   Here's what you can expect during your stay:

Lodging: This one-room hut is about the size of a matchbox, so if you don't like to stretch or breath, this IS definitely the place for you!

Rates: One jar of Trader Joe's Cookie Butter and two boxes of quinoa will suffice for payment. You're never too good to barter!

Meals: Curry veggies. Thai noodles. Banana pancakes. The grub is pretty scrumptious at Hotel Jiggetts. Pick your plate and Chef Jiggetts has your back. Er, stomach.

Things to do: Evening sunsets beat what's on your cable TV any day of the week! Do you know how dramatic it is for the clouds to slowly part from a pink-hued sky? Oh, and don't worry about nightlife because Club Jiggetts has got you covered.

The locals: The family dog, Lion, might pop in every so often rummage through the trash bin. And spiders visit the premises a lot. They're not harmless unless you get them before they get you:)

   Hotel Jiggetts was given 5 out of 5 stars by the Thisaintforeverybody Traveler's Association.
   So holler at yours truly if you're ready to book at this very fine establishment.
   E-mail for more information. Serious inquiries only.