My Lesotho Life

I have a new blog goal, blogoal if you will. I realized that in all these postings I don’t actually talk about Lesotho that much. I describe stories and my thoughts and feelings (so many feelings), but do not really get into the specifics of what this place is like. My posts can be rather intense but I am an intense person. However, to lighten it up, I want to throw in more posts about actual Lesotho information and maybe a few less about my internal struggles.

Don’t worry, that emotional dribble will still be around.

That being said, this post isn’t really about Lesotho. It’s about me. But this is my blog so I think that is acceptable and this post is about my everyday life in Lesotho so it’s kind of about Lesotho too.

You may ask yourself, “What does Heather do everyday there in Africa?” I like to picture you, my blog readers, brushing your teeth in front of your vanity mirror wondering about my life. You do do that right? Well, I hate to think that your curiosity is unmet with knowledge so I will tell you.

My day typically starts at about 6 a.m. give or take 10 to 15 minutes depending on how many times I want to hit the snooze button. In the summer I am up usually an hour earlier so I can run but, with the winter sun hitting her own snooze button, there is not enough light for a run before school. So, I wake up, do the daily hygienic beauty routine and then eat a breakfast of oatmeal and coffee while checking my Google Reader and listening to the BBC. Even in Africa, I like to keep my brain over stimulated.

Just before 7, I am out the door, greeting herd boys and women huddled around pots on an open fire as I walk the 10 minutes to school. The hour before school starts, which is 8 a.m., is reserved for morning study. Students, no matter how far they walk and some are about an hour away, are required to be there at 7 a.m. They aren’t all there everyday but some do make it and I open the library for whoever wants to study or read there than in their classrooms. Most of the time I finish lesson plans, catch up on emails or read. At 7:45 I usually round the troops up for assembly.

Morning assembly is how most schools in Lesotho start the day. At our school, we begin with national anthem, followed by a scripture reading, the Our Father, a hymn and then any announcements. I am often the first teacher here so I tend to lead the assembly, but other teachers do it as well.

My schedule varies on the day. My busiest days for teaching are Thursdays, when I have double periods (80 minutes) of everything I teach – Form B English, Form B Life Skills and Form E.  Wednesdays are a bit more slack and I spend most of that day in the library working on other Peace Corps projects.

We have two breaks throughout the day – 10:40 a.m. and 1 p.m. During the morning break the teachers are served hot water for tea, which is really nice right now. And the teachers, along with the students, will buy fat cakes, fried bread dough, from bo-‘me in the village. I am trying to stay away from unhealthy carbs so usually drink a couple cups of tea or bring some vegetables to snake on.

The other break is out lunch. Some schools serve lunch and others do not. My school does, but because it is a fairly poor school the meals are great but it is at least food to keep the students going. On Mondays and Wednesdays the menu is samp, which is similar to creamed corn. Tuesdays and Thursdays is papa (maize) with mereho (vegetables, typically Swiss chard covered in salt and oil) or papa and beans, which is my favorite of the entrees served. School lets out early on Friday so we don’t have lunch that day.

The school day typically ends at 4:20 p.m. On Thursdays and Fridays we are done with class at 3:20 p.m. for our designated sports time and the students go off to the respective fields to practice football, netball and volleyball.

After school on Mondays and Wednesdays I walk to the shop near my house. In the back room is a tailor’s shop and I teach an adult English to the tailor and a few other women. At the end of the day, I am tired and hungry and usually don’t want to go to this class, but I always have a blast. These women are so eager to learn and ask me to define all kinds of words. They also beg for homework. THEY WANT HOMEWORK. I wish that gusto would rub off on my secondary students.

On the way home I drop into little kids soccer games or serenade the kiddie-bumpers (my father’s term, not mine) with karaoke to their radio, which is often playing sexually explicit American hip hop music.

When I am do not have the adult English class I usually try to squeeze in a run before the sunsets. On the other days I do yoga with a podcast and candlelight.

The last bits of sunlight are reserved for chores, such as washing dishes, drawing water or sweeping my rondavel. Or, I put it off till the next day where I will likely chose to put it off till the following day. My Lesotho and American selves are so similar.

Every night at 6:30 p.m., I have a standing date with my host family for “Rhythm City.” “Rhythm City” is this fantastically awful South African soap opera. It’s like American soap operas with the drama turned up 10 levels higher. We constantly “ooh” and “aah” and the traumatic events that happen to the families of Jo’burg. We laugh and make predictions. Sure, it is a gathering around a TV, but it’s fun and we have a lot of special moments in that half hour.

After the drama I go back to my hut and cook dinner. I usually cook lentils, beans or popcorn. Just like in America, I’d rather eat popcorn for dinner three nights of the week. I then spend the night reading, writing or occasionally watching something on my iPod. I do always right in my journal before bed and thank God for the opportunity to live such a life.

So, now you know my everyday life and you can think about more important things while flossing. But why would you want to?

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