Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tsehlanyane & Maliba & Freedom Riding

The time has come for me to get caught up a bit on the events of the past several months.  This endeavor begins with a weekend back in August, when I was fortunate enough to accompany my wife on one of her site visits.  The volunteer we visited lives and works near Tsehlanyane National Park.  This particular Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) is involved in some amazing work.  We visited this school, where she has been working with students and teachers:

And where I met some bo-'m'e (boh-MAY) who were cleaning beans, or linoa (dee-NWAH), by hand for the students' lunch.  They were extremely patient and kind as I attempted to chat with them in my limited Sesotho (seh-SOO-too).

Nearby was a church (many schools in Lesotho are run by churches), with this bell.

Next, we visited a health clinic where the PCV also does some work, and where I paused to pose next to a religious icon that had found a comfortable spot in a sink.  This reminded me of two important matters:  the Basotho are almost all Christian; and the water to that sink most likely was not working.

It seemed that all of the people in the waiting room that day were women and children.  Perhaps because they were running well baby visits that day?  Or maybe all the men were out in the fields or working the mines in South Africa?

Then we went to another school where that volunteer does some work.  I could not help but be struck by the sparseness of the room in which the teachers were working, not to mention the unfinished ceiling and loose light.  And this school is probably in better condition than many in Lesotho.  Lesotho does have universal primary education, though, which is pretty amazing.

Outside, one of the PCV's colleagues showed us the school's animal pens.  Here, he is explaining how they took a stack of used and broken chairs and re-purposed them as a warren for their rabbits.

Then he showed us the chickens, or khoho (khoh-HO, with the kh as in khutzpah).

This one seemed particularly interested in what our guide was saying.

We were also shown this pig, or fariki (fuh-REE-kee).

I have often been struck by how common it is for schools in Lesotho to be located on high ground with great views.  I am not certain why (perhaps they choose land that is least likely to be farmed?), but this school was no exception.

We met the principal in his spare office (a desk but no shelves).

And we were generously treated to food and beverages, because that is what you do when you have guests.

The principal and teachers even presented us with a gift of peaches, or liperekisi (dee-PARE-uh-kee-see), which I later turned into a scrumptious cobbler.

We then visited a pre-school (this PCV is very busy).  That metal shack is the school.

Inside the school, one of the teachers and some of the students showed us around so that we could admire the children's work.

We then hiked up a hill to a community center.

There, we met these two boys playing with their toys, which were fashioned from wire hangers and old soda cans.

Inside, they showed a great interest in being photographed, and then we discussed geography using the map painted on one of the walls.

Back outside, they posed again.

And then we were joined by some of their friends.  The kids all wanted to be photographed, but mostly so they could see pictures of themselves after they were taken.

Then we carried some chairs up a hill that our vehicle could not climb to deliver them to yet another community center.  I think the kids had almost as much fun with this as I did.

Once there, these two young boys (who were not nearly as serious as they look) also wanted to see a picture of themselves.

Inside the center, as we met with one of the women who works there and a few more children, the sunlight streaming in turned golden.

That meant we had to leave, as we did not want to be out after dark.  So the children all skipped off into the sunset...

...  while, after dropping off the PCV, Kathy and I headed for Maliba Lodge (muh-DEE-buh), where we were to spend the night - and where we were met with a welcoming beverage.

Maliba, located within Tsehlanyane National Park, is Lesotho's only luxury accommodation.  It is built in the traditional style, with grass roofs and all, but on a much grander scale, as evidenced by the ceiling in the main room.

And the deck which is just off the main room.

And the individual huts in which guests like us can stay.

And the views, since it is on a mountainside in a valley.

Dining at Maliba is a wonderful experience all on its own.

The chef did an amazing job coming up with wonderful vegan dishes for me, including dessert.

Breakfast at Maliba is also a grand experience.  The setting alone ensures that.

There are hiking trails in the valleys around the lodge, and we explored one.  Along the way, we crossed this picturesque creek.

We also admired some stunning views.

We rested beneath a peach tree.

We posed alongside another creek.

Then we returned to walking and pausing to admire the sites.

Before we returned to our room, which had its own deck with a view.

I paused to pose one last time, in front of the lodge, before we left.

If one seeks a romantic getaway within Lesotho, Maliba Lodge is a wonderful option.

- - - - - -

Shortly after we returned to Maseru, we attended an event hosted by the U.S. Embassy.  At the local movie theater, part of film about the Freedom Riders was screened.

We were then treated to a speech and question and answer session with one of the original Freedom Riders, Dr. Bernard LaFayette.  He spent a good deal of his time talking about the recent elections in Lesotho, which were free and fair democratic elections and resulted in a peaceful transition in government - an accomplishment which, he noted, set a great example for the world, and should be a source of pride for Lesotho..

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