This Afternoon

It’s 2 p.m. and the students are finishing their rare school-provided lunch. Teachers are gulping down the last swallows of Coke and wiping away bread crumbs from their mouths as they mentally prepare for afternoon classes in the new summer heat.

This is all speculation, though, because I am not at school.

Instead, I am at home, having changed into comfortable clothes and exchanged my contact lens for spectacles. Yesterday, I was home early, too.

A cold has hit my host family, infecting my mme and ntate, the baby and myself. It’s not a terrible cold, only of the common variety, but it’s enough to leave me tired and grasping my throat each time my lungs slam out a cough.

If I would have the same infection in the U.S., I would power through work and loaded up on enough medicine to make me functional but delirious. My co-workers would insist I go home, as they avoid my soppy tissues, but I couldn’t because “there is just too much to do.”

But I am not at home and, in the last two years, I’ve learned valuable lessons about taking care of myself. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I finish teaching before 1 p.m. and the afternoons are usually, especially this close to the end of the year, spent answering emails or reading in the staff room. I have had productive mornings, so there is no reason for me to suffer through the afternoon when I can be at home trying to heal myself. I’ve gained that kind of clarity in Lesotho and I only feel slightly guilty about it.

So often on this blog, I’ve mentioned enjoying the little moments before I return home and caring for myself is just as important as the extra time with my host family or playing with village kids. In America, it’s hard to justify the time for yourself, no matter if you are sick or slept poorly the night before. Thanks to a slower pace, Basotho life has allowed me to put myself before the deadline and I have I’ve had some pretty epic naps during my service. After years of overtime and all-nighters, I’ve earned them.

When I am back in the U.S. and working fulltime, I likely won’t have the opportunity to cut out for the afternoon, and that’s OK. I understand that about American life, although I intend to treat myself better than I did in the past. Right now, I am still on Basotho time and I am going to take the occasion to get some extra rest and help my body heal.

So, if you’ll excuse, I am loaded up on medicine and ready for one of those epic naps, which are heavily induced with food dreams.

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