Monday, January 16, 2006

July 24th 2002

Hope things are going okay here. I have been doing village life. First of all it has been cold. Really cold, every morning I look out the window and even though I keep the heater going all night I can still my breath in the morning it is so cold and I am inside the house. Other inconveniences include no running water, electricity, plumbing including toilettes, and phones. Life is made a little bit more inconvenient by the village superstition that a person cannot have more than one light per room. So for instance I can only have one candle going. If I need to use the flashlight then I have to blow out the candle. There are other superstitions too, like not being able to hang laundry between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM so all laundry is taken off the lines at ten and put back on at one. I am also not allowed to draw water after sunset or to light the candle until it is really necessary because it is so dark.

Something that is exciting to me is that I have been able to also been given a new name. I am now called Tanki Liphole. Which is actually pronounced Die-een-key Dee-poe-loe. If you wonder how is not said maybe sometime I can explain the name of the village which Mahloenyeng which by all means to the traditional English speaker is unpronounceable but if I were to try to explain how it is pronounced it would be something like Mah-shlway-nya-nng!

I have had so much of a time in this small African village. The house I stay in is despite not having modern amenities has nice walls, and floor, but a tin roof ceiling. I am really having nice luck to have it my nearest Peace Corp neighbor has been staying in a round hut with a grass ceiling, dung floor and lots of bugs. I am becoming able to put together very simple sentences in the Sesotho language. The villagers though find me quite funny with my accent and even when they speak English their accent is hard for me to understand.

No one should worry about my health now though. I am getting so much better. I also feel like I currently have the best health care right now than I have ever had as far as once I actually get to a hospital. Of course the local clinic is often far away but I think I will be all right it is a little uncomfortable knowing help is just picking up the phone and it will be there in five minutes. I have also been vaccinated with so many shots for so many things.

I do now think I might get a cell phone. So many people here have them and what I found out is like for between thirty to fifty dollars I can get a phone that has prepaid time on it that will last a year. The catch on the deal is that I can only make so many calls and really just local ones, I really need to go to a payphone with a calling card for it to be efficient to call but if I got a cell phone then people from the US could call me and I could talk as long as I wanted with out being charged. Actually I am not too sure though if all this is accurate information and I will really have to find out more about it later on from a reliable source but is seems that basically the cell phones here are like the land lines in America where a person can receive as many calls as they like but there is only charges for outgoing calls.

Anyway village life was nice. Now I am in transit to another cite where a Peace Corp volunteer is and has been for a while, someone to figuratively speaking "show me the ropes". I am going to another small village with a volunteer. I will be spending some of the night in one of those round huts with a grass roof. It will only be for a few days and apparently it is nice enough for my host to live in so it will probably nice enough for me even if I am supposed to sleep on the floor at night.

My sleeping bag is still one of the most important things I have brought.

It keeps me warm at night. There was one night though that my heater ran out of gas. By design it should have lasted the whole time but they were not planning on us keeping them on all night. They actually told us not to but it was just so cold those first few nights and I kept on turning it off later and then back on earlier that I just started leaving it on all night.

Anyway one night my heater was not running because I had run low on propane and even then I just put a blanket over my sleeping bag and cinched the sleeping bag hood on my head and was basically warm. The big problem was that the air was still like twenty-five degrees though and I was having a lot of difficulty trying to sleep breathing air that cold even if the rest of me was warm.

The population here has been devastated by HIV. The closest house next to me not owned by my adoptive family had two people die that lived there during the two weeks I was staying. There are actually more people in the country under the age of twenty five then there are over twenty five so here just by age alone I get some status just because I am older than most of the people here. It is really apparent in the villages. There are just so many kids many of which have no parents at all and are being taken care of by a relative. I really don't feel like I will really know how to "do the right thing" here it is just so terrible. I am just planning on what doing what feels right. To make it worse there is a lot of substance abuse. There are a few things here that are a way of life. Farming is a way of life, being Basotho is a way of life with the traditions and beliefs that are unquestionable, and apparently among almost all the men and some of the women smoking pot is a way of life. It is almost like even walking outside seriously one just can constantly smell the smell of it in the air.

Supposedly it is the countries number one moneymaker from growing it and selling it to South Africa.

The picture I have enclosed is of girls that are often near my house. Yes the women here really do carry things on there heads. It is a daily thing to see a women carry a bucket with water in it on her head with no hands on it. It is a skill that they really practice a lot. The women also wrap their children in a blanket that is wrapped also around them so they carry their baby in the way Americans carry a backpack. The people here also wear blankets. Lots of blankets everyone here it seems like but us volunteers wraps up in blankets instead of coats.

I have been told more about my site that I will be going to that it will be in a Campton and that I will have electricity unlike most of the people in my class. I should also have some kind of limited access to Internet in one way or another. I hope everything is going well for everyone and I send light and love, Jeff


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