It has been a long time since I’ve posted. Actually it’s been a long time since I’ve used a computer. It feels really nice to type once again on the smooth keys of a laptop that was recently brought to Africa by my mother, who visited over Easter holidays with my stepfather. My banged-up Macbook from 2006 that survived a spillage of oatmeal on it, two study abroad trips, four years of college, and sixteen months in Africa, finally quit working. Yeah, it sucked, but it crashed at a good time: a month before my parents’ trip to Africa. They were able to buy a refurbished one exactly like the one I had for a very good price. I hope that this computer too will last me seven years, or more.
Lately I’ve been quite happy and have been enjoying my Peace Corps experience a lot these past few months. Maybe it’s because I know both what to expect and what is expected of me after over a year of experience as a science and mathematics teacher. Perhaps it’s that the students are more motivated this year or that I’ve changed my attitude or perspective. It could be because I’m spending more weekend free time in village than ever before, or that it’s the last year I’ll work at Mabuleng Secondary School. It’s probably a combination of all of those things. I’m not sure what exactly has happened, but I’m liking my job a lot better than I did last year and I’m trying to soak up every last bit of my interactions with the community members, teachers, and students.
The African Library Project books that were donated by friends and family members in Raleigh, NC arrived a few days ago and are sitting in a storage facility in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. My community is still trying to work out how exactly we’re going to transport them up to the mountains and who is going to do it, but it will happen somehow, at some point. I’ve been talking to people and have a few different options. Cataloguing and shelving them is how I plan to stay occupied over winter break when I’m not on vacation. I’m really excited to make this library happen, and now that the books have finally arrived, it seems as if a lot of other teachers and community members are becoming motivated as well.
My most recent trip out of the country was at the end of March/beginning of April. I met me mom and stepdad in Johannesburg, where we rented a car, and drove to a tented safari camp in the middle of nowhere in the Timbavati Game Reserve (east of Kruger National Park) in a tiny Honda, which was definitely amusing but probably not the best vehicle choice, we later decided. Every morning and evening for about three hours at a time, we went out into “the bush” in huge open Landrovers to look for animals, although often they would simply wander into our camp (especially the warthogs). After about a week, we had seen plenty of lions, hippos, elephants, giraffes, monkeys, warthogs, impala, kudu, buffalo, zebras, baboons, hyenas, and more. After our Safari, we spent some time in the Mpumalanga region looking at waterfalls, canyons, and crawling around in really old caves. We had a great time and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to experience the quintessential Africa safari.
It’s really hard to believe that I have a bit less than eight months left in the place that I now call my home. Thinking back, that first year I lived in Lesotho was really stressful because events, other people, and my feelings were so unpredictable. For a long time I felt a very deep feeling of alienation from both Lesotho and American societies. The feeling of being completely alone and not belonging anywhere is a strange one. It was probably one of the most uncomfortable and insecure years of my life. But at the same time, I learned a lot about myself and of what I am capable. I think it’s a good thing that I pushed through the rough times, because they led to 2013, which has been a really good year so far. Although it’s still a long time before I leave Lesotho, it seems that my time here has passed quickly, and I can’t help doing what I always do when things come to a close: thinking to myself something along the lines of “well, this is the last time _________ will happen.” Some of the statements I’m happy to say, but most of them make me a bit sad.
Here are some of these “last” experiences I’ve had so far:
The last time I’ll celebrate Christmas, the new year, and my birthday in Lesotho.
The last peach season, during which I can walk up to one of the peach trees at my home to pick a fresh peach at any time of the day for one whole month out of the year.
The last time I’ll struggle to remember 70 similar-sounding but really different Sesotho names like Nkeletseng, Ntsokeleng, Moleboheng, Nthabeleng, Ithapeleng, etc…
The last times I’ll be able to go to bed at 8 p.m. and sleep 10-12 hours without feeling like I’m missing out on something or being unproductive.
The last year I’ll be able to see the Southern Cross constellation in the night sky (unless I travel back to the Southern Hemisphere)
The last time I’ll sit through a four-hour parents’ meeting that’s conducted in Sesotho only.
The last time I’ll draw a penis and testicles on the chalkboard to teach the reproductive systems.
|Swimming in Mac Mac pools, Graskop, Mpumalanga|