Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tsa Kholo

Week before last, I returned to the public transit system. This time, it was to visit a Volunteer (PCV) I am helping with a research project intended to assess the affect of PCV Resource Teachers on student performance. However, I could have helped her with that via e-mail. I just wanted to take the trip.

She lives in Tsa Kholo (tsah-KHOH-loh), which is just outside Mafeteng (mah-FUH-teng). So I got on the bus and rode out there, transferring in the camptown of Mafeteng. It is about a one to two hour drive from Maseru to Tsa Kholo. It took me four and a half hours to get there via public transit. Buses here (most of which are really vans and are called taxis) do not generally leave their main stops (like Mafeteng) until they are full. So they can sit for quite some time. And they stop frequently. And the roads are rough. And there are traffic stops. Etc.

I met some neat people, though, including a blind man who, it turned out, was from Tsa Kholo. We had fun chatting in a mix of Sesotho and English all the way from Maseru to Mafeteng. Then, in Mafeteng, where I thought I would be focused on finding someone to help me get to my next taxi, I ended up helping him. In turn, he helped me, as he was able (much more easily than I) to let the driver of our second taxi know exactly which stop I needed (Hae Perama, hye-PAYHR-ah-mah).

Amongst my favorite videos shot here thus far, these show first the view out my window of the taxi as we were leaving the taxi rank in Mafeteng (it gives a real feel of what that section of town is like) and then a portion of the ride as we approached Tsa Kholo, where the road was much rougher:

While at the Volunteer's house, we talked about the research project, ate some lunch (I felt guilty taking food from a PCV - even though I had brought her some, including a loaf of bread I had just baked the day before), and played guitar. She had borrowed a second instrument from another PCV, so we were able to work our way through "Wish You Were Here", "And It Stoned Me", "Me and Bobby McGee", "One of Us" and "Roadhouse Blues". (These were her choices. I like that some songs span generations so well.) Glancing out the window to see donkeys wandering by as we were jamming through an old Doors tune was quite an experience!

Also, since some PCVs who had dinner at our house in Maseru a while ago had commented that they had almost no pictures of themselves at their sites, I made sure I took these:

As she took one of me in front of that same view:

She then helped me find a taxi back to Mafeteng, where I would have transferred again, but Kathy was worried about the time and so came to pick me up. This provided me with an opportunity to wander around Mafeteng a bit, grabbing a soda at a place called "Good Will Grocery" and chatting with a few Basotho who wanted to know why I was just sitting on the side of the road. (Waiting for someone to pick me up seems to have been an acceptable reply.) And then I got to ride the rest of the way home with my wonderful wife. Not a bad day!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Finding Time at Malealea

One weekend not too long ago, Kathy and I accepted a last minute invitation from our friend, and her colleague, Charles, to spend the night at Malealea Lodge. We had been there once before, as described in an earlier blog entry, but did not hesitate to go back. It is a beautiful place that does wonders for weary souls.

Along with Charles and ourselves, our group also included Prince (from Rwanda), Kevin (an American Peace Corps employee living in South Africa) and Armando (from Mozambique). We spent most of the weekend simply relaxing, admiring the views and being entertained by the peacocks that had the run of the grounds.

We did go for a brief walk that evening, during which we were reminded that we were most definitely out in the country:

Kathy and I also took time out to enjoy the evening's entertainment, which consisted of a local youth choir:

And a band of local musicians who play homemade instruments, sing and dance:

The following morning, I rose before anyone else and went for a sunrise hike. Wandering through the mountains and villages at sunrise was easily one of the highlights of my time here, or anywhere. Here is a sample of what I saw:

On the way back, I wandered through a local village, where I met some enchanting people:

For the rest of the morning, all the others in our group went pony trekking while I remained back at the lodge. I have had my fill of horse riding, much preferring my own feet. So while they rode, I sat at the coffee shop and learned two new songs ("One of Us" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want") - when I was not entertaining two young Afrikaner children who were staying at the lodge.

Once the others returned, we relaxed a bit more:

Then we bid farewell to the spectacular view: