Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Footage of Sports Practice (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 my students are practicing for an upcoming sports event. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My thoughts on this attempted coup...

   Many of you have asked me about this attempted military coup that occurred earlier this month in the capital of Lesotho, Maseru. 
   It chased out the Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, and left one police officer dead and several others injured. 
   I’ve been safe and sound in sunny South Africa. And my friends and host family back in Lesotho are OK. 
   Peace Corps recently decided to send me and 80-something other volunteers to South Africa until tensions cooled between the government, military and police force in Lesotho. They’ve regularly been updating volunteers about the safety and security situation there, and have been keeping us busy through an all-volunteer conference at a nice hotel in the middle of nowhere. 
   With nearly two more months left to go in my service, my bosses found time to squeeze in my close of service conference (this is where I officially prepare to leave Lesotho to go back home to America.) It’s been nice to eat like a queen, take hot showers, have electricity and take in a nearby city, but I miss my host family dearly. I talk to them every few days or so.
   But safety always comes first. Here’s the deal: police and army were fighting because the Prime Minister closed down Parliament back in June because the country’s coalition parties were going to vote him out of office. (There had been whispers of a staged coup during that time but nothing materialized.) The police force is said to be very loyal to the PM and the army is said to support the Deputy Prime Minister, many of whom believe is behind the attempted coup. Southern African leaders have been talking to Lesotho’s leaders, especially their army head, who won’t step down. He is believed to be very aggressive and has said he won’t go out without a fight.
   Honestly, my emotions have been all over the place. When I first got the call to pack up and leave my village, I thought Peace Corps was going to send me back to America. And that’s what I packed for. I threw all my nice fabrics from Mozambique in a bag, scooped up my traditional Basotho hat and said goodbye to my host family. My host mother and I cried and hugged each other. “
   I may or may not come back,” I told her. “I honestly don’t know.”
   Hopefully, though, I’ll get to go back soon.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Quirky Animals I’ve Seen Here!!

   Animals are a big part of the culture here. But sometimes, I’ll come across one and see something different.
   Case in point:

-This heart-headed cow:

I had to do a double-take when I saw this heart-shaped patch of white hair on this baby because I'm blind.

-Men on donkeys:

This picture was taken on a Monday, which I think (or hope!) explains everything!

-Racoon or cow? 

Again, I did a double-take when I saw this cow. How interesting does he look?

-Sleepy time:

My host brother, Tsepiso, was tired from going up the mountain with this donkey. Poor baby needed a break.

What strange animals have you seen lately? Which of these is your favorite? 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Footage of My students Singing (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 my students singing a traditional Basotho song. Enjoy!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Lion, the family dog! (World Wise Post)

Lion, the family dog, loves to visit me at school. Here he is, in all of his glory. Dude wouldn't leave the school grounds!

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.

   Earlier this year, my host family got a new dog named Lion and he's quite the character. 
   The little homie just barges all up in my house without knocking or asking if he can come in.
   And he rummages through my garbage can like he pays my rent.
   Here are a few more tidbits about Lion.
Name: Lion Tsiane.

Age: Young.

Breed: No idea. If you know, please let me know.

Fave thing to do: Sniff through my garbage can.

Job: To protect and to annoy.

Fave food: Poop. No kidding. He eats the 4-year-old's poop.

   So that's Lion, the family dog.
   He irritates the heck out of me sometimes, like when I eat dinner outside and have to look at his sad puppy face. He ain't eating none of my good homemade curry, y'all!!!
   But he does protect me. He accompanies me during evening walks.
   One day, my neighbor's mutts ran up to me and Lion took the bites and scratches. My boo fought back! Just like a lion that he is.

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

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Random Musings about food!!

   Picture me climbing up the stairs, walking toward the end of the plank and I jumping off the diving board into a pool of lukewarm curry.
   Crazy, right?
   Well, sometimes food makes me go insane, especially if it’s good food or things I like to snack on.
   There are a few eateries and foodstuffs that have made me lose my marbles here in Lesotho. Here they are:

Regal Indian food:

Nothing tastes as good as Indian food in India but Regal is as good as it gets here in Lesotho.  It’s a pretty expensive restaurant for a Peace Corps stipend ($15 for a full course meal) but it’s worth it. Their mango lassi smoothie is worth diving into, too.

Ice Guava: 

OK, this is my crack cocaine in the summer time here. It’s the perfect cold treat to have on a steamy day, or any day. Or everyday. And it costs roughly 35 cents.

‘M’e Malesia’s: 

A good friend introduced me to this eatery in my camptown. For $1.50, you get all of this food: greens, rice, chicken, beets, and/or whatever’s on the menu for the day. I always leave an empty plate.

Robertson’s Wine: 

I fell in lurve with these little box wines (judge me). They’re the perfect serving and they’re so cute. I just wanna wuv ém and hug ém and kiss all over them like they’re little wittle babiesJ.


This jewelry set was made out of Chappies gum, a very popular gum chewed here. It's the reason why I have gotten so many cavities during my service!

   One day, I was in the checkout line at one of my fave stores in town and saw a display of Oreos. Oreos? Oreos! I was so excited. Don’t even eat Oreos in America but here, they made me go crazy in a way that only food can do!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Footage of Riding in a Taxi

I've written about riding in a taxi in Lesotho and here's some footage. Please don't ask me to translate what these ladies are saying. 

And here's an extra clip:

I just thought it was funny that Sonny of Cher was playing in the taxi here. Random.

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!