Saturday, April 26, 2014

Using Public Transport Here

I'm completely dependent on the country's transport system and ride in taxis (or kombis) like the one pictured above. 

   In America, I drove my own car nicknamed "Biggi Jiggi." She got me to and fro and was as dependent as the sunset. I had my freedom. Sweet Jesus I had my independence.
   But here, things are different.
   I'm totally reliant on the public transportation system, and I mainly ride what are called kombis.
   They look like the bus that Scooby Doo and his crew rode in. Some are so old and rickety that I don't even know how they get around.
   They pass my village about every 30-40 minutes. If I'm catching one in town or the capital city, I sometimes, have to wait a loooooong time for it to fill up before leaving. I always bring a book to pass the time.
   The fair is cheap by American standards. It costs me roughly $3 US Dollars to go to and from town.
   Riding in a kombi is like being in an overcrowded bar. You have no room to move your limbs, or breath. Imagine being packed like sardines, or pilchards, in a can.
   And it gets really stuffy because the Basotho do NOT like to open windows. This is a battle I will fight because I need my fresh air, especially on those taxis.
   Sometimes, you might end up with a baby on your lap. Just take the baby. Don't ask questions. That's anther battle I don't fight. There is no such thing as personal space here and on public transport, that baby is your baby, too. Ya dig?
   The conductors and drivers can be relentless, too. I had to cuss out a conductor because he wouldn't give me my bags after placing them on his empty taxi. I wasn't going to sit on his empty taxi when there was a nearly full taxi that was gearing up to leave. Chile please!
  There are plenty of times when I miss "Biggi Jiggi" but my big brother's taking care of her and I'll see her upon my return home later this year.
   Until then, I'll keep on rolling with these kombis here. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The HIV/AIDS crisis here

My students participate in a program called Grass Root Soccer. It's intended to educate them about the HIV/AIDS crisis that's plaguing the country.

   There are nearly 400 students who attend my primary school.
   About half are orphans. Most of them have lost one or both parents to the HIV/AIDS crisis that's plaguing Lesotho.
   Sadly, Lesotho has the third highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world. The driving force is multiple common partners (MCPs) and unprotected sex.
   This crisis is no laughing matter. It's real. Some of my students are the heads of their
households. Others are being raised on their grandparents' thin pension. And, unfortunately,
some of my students are living and suffering with the disease.
   As a Peace Corps Volunteer, it's my job to help to mitigate the spread of the disease. I do this by teaching about the virus in my Life Skills classes.
   I also co-facilitate a program called Grass Root Soccer, which uses games and soccer lingo to educate youth about the disease. My co-worker and I hold sessions twice a week for about two hours.
We graduated 35 students in our first class last year and have continually run the program each school session.
   Personally, I'm a nun and I ain't getting none. Pun intended. I don't mess with anyone out here. Lord knows I'm no Goody Two Shoes but I've been closed off here because I have to practice what I preach, especially when it comes to a disease that's plaguing my country of service-and my students.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cute Animal Overload!! (World Wise Post)

My host brother loves (terrorizing) little animals. Here, he's determined to pull this poor pig's tail.

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.

   Lesotho is an agricultural society which can only mean one thing: cute animal overload!
   My students own and see lots of cute animals here in Lesotho. Case in point:

I passed these cute little piglets while visiting another volunteer a while ago:

These 'lil piggly wigglies inspired this blog post!

Can't run. Can't hide:
I've seen plenty of donkeys here but never tied up like this! Basotho use donkies to carry large sacks of maize meal up and down the mountain communities they live in.

My family's cat just keeps on having kittens!
They are the cutest little things. My host mother feeds them papa and milk.

There was something in the water for a while at my house because every animal was popping out babies!
Love this baby goat! She kept running away when I tried to snap her picture, though.

This is the family dog, Lion:
He really is a lion. Just comes up in my house without knocking and stuff. No manners at all, lol. I love is courage.

Here is baby goat with its mama:
    Many of my students and volunteers own domestic animals like dogs, cats and even chickens.
   I don't.
   Animals are the gateway to parenthood and I'm only just only trying to feed my mouth right now, thank you very much:)
  But, as long as I live here, I'll continue to bask in the tenderness of cute animals.

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

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Poem for Joala (Basotho beer)

A villager is brewing Basotho beer, better known as joala (jwala). Joala tastes mainly sour and bitter. Some versions can be ginger-y and sweet, though. Either way, it is a beloved beverage all over Lesotho.

Note: Joala is the name for beer or alcohol in Lesotho. This poem is dedicated to the country's celebrated beverage.

A Poem for Joala
Come here, sit down,
And give me your ear.
I'd like to tell you,
'bout Basotho beer.

It's bitter and sour,
But sometimes it's sweet.
To all the Basotho,
It's a tasty treat.

They drink it at weddings,
Events and feasts.
Joala is made with,
Their special yeast.

The best I tasted,
Had a sweet ginger base.
It left me so sick,
and laid out on my face.

   Soooooooo, ummmmmmmm...about that last stanza...Riiiiiiiiiight.
   I was on my way to a braai with friends late last year. They had that good joala; that excellent home brew!
   I went: Gulp! Gulp! Gulp! Then, out of nowhere, a Black Mamba grew in my stomach and spit its venom all over the place. Took a while before I felt like a normal person again.
   So, no more home brew joala for me. I'm sticking to filtered water:)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Using a Dutch Oven

 Using a Dutch Oven has changed my "culinary" life out here. And probably made me pre-Diabetic, too.

   I've grown into a little baker that Betty Crocker would be proud of.
   Sort of.
   I love baked treats and using a Dutch Oven has helped me to enjoy them a bit more often.
   Here's how it works: I put an old tuna can in the middle of a big pot. Then I put my baking dish on the can. The heat creates a convection the circulates and "bakes" the meal.
   It basically works as a double broiler but without the water.
   You can put dirt at the bottom of the pan but I don't because it makes cleanup easier.
Here is a picture of it in action:

This is a peanut butter loaf I made a while back. The pot is sitting on top of an old tuna can. It baked up in about 40 minutes.

The peanut butter loaf was the first thing that I made in the Dutch Oven:
It was OK. Too much peanut butter for my taste.

I also made this vanilla pound cake for my host mother:
It was pretty darn good. Everybody, especially my host mom, loved it.

This whole wheat orange bread was OK:

It was mediocre at best but I didn't burn it so that was the victory!

   The Dutch Oven works great for me because I don't have a conventional stove.
   Cooking time is usually no more than an hour. Clean up is a cinch. And my stomach is always happy:)