A day in the life

Sometimes I think that I do not describe my life in Lesotho enough on this blog. Most of the time, I just complain about my feelings. So many feelings.

To make up for that, I thought I would write the obligatory “Day in the Life” post that is present on most volunteer blogs. I usually hate these kind of write ups but it occurred to me that others – those who don’t live my life – may enjoy it. So, here is my life.

Most days, my alarm, which is The Verbe’s “Bittersweet Symphony”, rings at 5:20. I then sleep for another twenty or thirty minutes, because I am procrastinator, before rolling out of bed to do yoga. I usually light a few candles and then put on my yoga playlist or a yoga podcast.

After some down dog and prayer, I turn on the BBC and the kettle and get ready for the day. Since it is now winter, dressing becomes a matching game between the temperature outside and how many layers I will wear. Always leggings and undershirt with a heavy jacket. Then I sit down to breakfast, usually oatmeal, with a cup of tea and my Google Reader, which consists mostly of other volunteer blogs, in Lesotho and other parts of the world, and running blogs. (Side note: I am not sure what I am going to do when Google Reader disappears in a few months. I’ve tried to find another solution, but most are apps and they do not have one for Blackberry or they don’t work on my browser. Any recommendations would be appreciated.)

The walk to school is a slew of greetings. The herdmen taking cattle out for morning grazing. The taxi driver waiting for passengers. Women preparing morning papa. Big hugs from a group of girls walking to primary school.

School usually begins with morning assembly. The students start with the national anthem then a Bible reading, the Our Father and then a hymn. It ends with a few announcements from a teacher. I hate to lead assembly because all of the students together intimidate me, however, I am often the first one to school so the responsibility becomes mine.

This year I am teaching English literature and language to grade 9, English language to grade 10 and life skills and computers to all grades, 8,9,10. I also supervise library time for all forms. When I am not in class, I am usually in the computer lab planning lessons, returning emails (yep, even in Africa I have to schedule time for this), completing work for my volunteer committees or writing blogs and columns. Sometimes I venture into the staff room to mark homework or read.

There is a twenty-minute break at 10:40 and I always try to spend that time in the staffroom with the teachers. Often, they speak in Sesotho so I causally listen until I hear a word that intrigues me and will ask them to explain in English. We then have lunch at 1 p.m. for an hour. On Mondays and Wednesdays, it is usually split peas or beans and papa and I usually eat these days. But, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, samp – similar to creamed corn but chunkier – days, I bring my own lunch.

School ends at 4:00 and I often stop at one of the village’s shops to pick up candles, tomatoes or toilet paper (really, these are the items I buy the most) before going home. In the winter, this is usually the only time I can run – I try to run before school in the summer – but I have limited time before the sun goes down. I also use this time to do dishes, sweep, fetch water or take down my wash from the line if it is laundry day.

When it gets dark I light candles and begin to prepare dinner. I actually have a light in my house that is connected to a wire strung from my family’s house. They turn on a switch that powers my switch but I usually only use this when I have visitors. Although I go through a lot of candles, especially in the winter, I enjoy the ambiance and I figure I will have the rest of my life to live by artificial light.

Dinner is a rotating combination of lentils, rice, beans, canned veggies, soups and tortillas. Sometimes, if I’ve recently been to Maseru, fresh vegetables are included. These are quite expensive for my volunteer living allowance and I can only spring for them occasionally and when I go to Maseru, which is less frequent lately.

Although I am not always good about it, I try to shut my phone off around 5:30 or 6. I try to not to respond to any emails (except for my mom’s) at that time and just disconnect. Sometimes I just don’t have service in my house and I appreciate the break. I am hoping this will be good practice for when I return to the land of infinite electricity and Wi-Fi.

At 6:30 sharp I go into my host family’s house for Rhythm City, a South African soap opera that is conducted in a mixture of Sesotho, English, Zulu and Afrikaans. We watch this together every weeknight and it’s also our reserved time to catch up daily. Of course, I see my family more than just this half hour but it really has become our special time. It’s even more enjoyable now that my host sister’s baby lives with us and I like to rock him to sleep.

Then I go back to my house to write, watch something on my computer (I have a new charger and bought a hard drive so I have a few TV shows and movies) or read. I am usually in bed with a boo at about 8 and take my time falling sleep. I am very aware that I sleep a lot here in Lesotho but I am going to take advantage of it because I know that it will be different in the United States. Plus, after all the all nighters I pulled in college and late nights at the office, I deserve it.

It’s taken awhile for me to understand that this is my life now, although it won’t be for much longer, but I’ve come to cherish the moments, finding comfort in them. It may not seem like an exciting life but it is mine and I am thankful for it.

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