America Peace Corps

Settling in: Salads and a radio

January 10, 2011

I’ve now been in Lesotho for almost six months, and in my village for three and a half.  It’s taken a while, but I finally feel at home.  My work has developed, so that I have two tasks to do everyday.  Being busy and productive has made a big difference on how content I feel.Juliana Fulton - Lesotho

On an average day I’m woken up by my host family calling to each other and getting ready as early as 6am, but I don’t get up till 7.  I then spend a little time cleaning and then an hour or two working in the garden.  Usually I get dirty enough that I have to take a bucket bath.  But since it’s hot it is a lot more pleasant than it was in the winter.  I then read a bit and review my lesson plan for the day before walking for an hour or so to school.  I teach life skills for one period and then meet with the agriculture group.  Lately we’ve been planting, but before that we spent most meetings planning, writing needs assessments, and developing a seasonal calendar.

I believe I am making a difference in my life skills classes, most of the kids had a very limited knowledge of HIV/AIDS.  But in the agriculture clubs, I can actually see the difference, and see the plants grow, it has been very rewarding.

As I settle into a routine with work I’ve also become much better at filling my free time.  Without electricity, TV and computers I used to spend a lot of time just sitting and looking at the mountains, which was pleasant but pretty boring.  Now I’ve taken up knitting and have started a garden, which has been a lot of fun.  I’m trying to grow greens that you can’t get in Lesotho, they don’t have uncooked salads here.  I can’t wait to have a nice green salad!

One of my favorite parts about my village are the children, they come and visit me almost every day. I have gotten some colored pencils and now they sit outside my door and color, much nicer than just standing there and staring at me.  And the rains have started, so everything is green.  The peaches on the peach trees have started to ripen.  And a waterfall that wasn’t there in the winter, started up a couple of weeks ago.  I woke up to the sound of new waterfalls and a very full river, at first I thought my fan was one, then I realized I have no fan, and no electricity to run a fan.Lesotho Children Colouring books

And it’s gotten hot here, my house is on a hillside and gets a nice breeze, but the walk to the schools is very sweaty.  The weather here in summer is very dramatic, it hails on a weekly basis and I have twice seen lightening strike a nearby mountain and set it on fire.

While I still have my frustrating moments, I’m very happy here and feel settled.  Two years still sounds like a long time, but not as frighteningly long as it did before.  One of my frustrating moments happened two weeks ago when was trying to handle two six-week old puppies in my purse on a bus.  They were being a handful and a woman who I’d never seen before came up to me and told me to give her my puppy.  I said no, not unless she gave me one of her cattle.  She was quiet for a while after that, then saw that I had two puppies, and said that I needed to give her one since I had two.

My patience in Lesotho has been surprisingly good, a lot better than at home, I think it’s because I get so much sleep.  But I ran out of patience at that moment and just ignored her.  It’s a cultural difference, here you don’t say “please can you lend me,” you say “I’m asking for” or “give me,” I’m still getting used to it.  I think politeness is a cultural subtlety that is very difficult to grasp.  I probably have been impolite myself without realizing it.

Last week I got a radio!  Its screen might not work and it only gets a few stations, but it has been wonderful. I spent a very pleasant evening last week sitting watching the sunset behind the mountains with my host sister listening to old American R&B.

The contents of this article are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.

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