Friday, August 5, 2011

Hiking with the Trainees

The newest group of trainees recently went to Tsehlanyane National Park to hike and relax... and to get their site assignments. As always, Tsehlanyane was beautiful. It is hard not to feel restored after visiting a place like that, where one just naturally wants to pause and reflect:

Along the way, I had some truly engaging conversations about vegetarianism and veganism with several of the trainees. By now, they all know that I am a vegan, as I have baked a few treats for them (such as spiced coca muffins, chocolate-chocolate chip cookies, and peanut butter cookies), and they were told that all my baking is vegan.

Quite a few of these trainees are vegetarian, vegan, or at least have such tendencies, interests and sympathies. We talked about the process of becoming and maintaining, about the questions we get, the struggles we go through when dining out, and how to maintain healthy vegetarian and vegan diets while living in Lesotho. Though the trainees had been informed it would be difficult or impossible to be vegetarian or vegan in Lesotho, it turns out that this is not so: the necessary ingredients are all available and most traditional food here is very vegan-friendly. Yes, the Basotho do seem to love their nama ("nah-MUH", or meat), but most of what they eat is vegetable-based. Meat is expensive, after all.

Mostly, though, we were not so much talking as we were just enjoying the moment:

I have really cherished the opportunity to get to know this newest batch of Lesotho PCVs-in-training. They are a great group. All seemed genuinely thrilled with their site placements, anxious to get out into the world and make a positive difference - experiencing as much of life in Lesotho as they can along the way. Apparently, this includes occasionally singing a favorite song or two, as they did when our friend Jim (who works at Peace Corps Lesotho) and I pulled out our guitars and lent them to the trainees for a little while:

As if to remind us all how beautiful it is here, the sun set spectacularly as we were on our way back from Tesehlanyane:

I look forward to learning about all the amazing things these new Peace Corps Lesotho Volunteers accomplish and experience - and all the lessons they learn - while they are here over the next two or three years...

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