Monday, January 16, 2006

October 12th 2002

Hi Everyone,

Looking out among the crowd I can see thousands of Africans. They are all enjoying themselves and the music. My friend and I decided to go right out among in the middle and dance and we did. I have to say we really stood out for many ways. For one and most obviously amongst a lake of Africans we are the only ones that are light skinned. To make things worse compared to the Basotho we are giants both being over six feet tall in a country in which 5’10” is considered being tall. So not only do we have white heads but also they stick up much higher than the rest of the heads in the crowd. Can you see it? We also dance with a much different style than the Basotho to make us stand out even more. I have to say though with all the differences I felt very comfortable and had a lot of fun. It was a party after all.

The Marija Festival that I was just describing in part was quite an unforgettable experience. There was music, food, crafts for sell, traditional dancing and shows, plays, and the rest of the stuff that goes along with such a show. I do know that I had said that I would take pictures and show them. I carried around my camera quite a bit but was really too often just living in the moment that I the whole time only took one picture and it was not even at the festival.

There was a jazz concert too. It apparently was broadcast over Radio Lesotho and while only a couple thousand people attended physically it seems like most of the country was there in heart and soul as they listened on their radios. I was there though along with about thirty other Peace Corps Volunteers. That was the night that one of the bands left the stage and came right in the middle of the crowd and played amongst us. I am not sure while they picked to stand right where the Peace Corps Volunteers were in the crowd but I have my suspicions. It might have been with the exception of me the Volunteers were all more or less very drunk. We were rowdier and dancing a lot more. In fact at one point no for the most part were not dancing until a group of us made a big group and went right up in front of the stage and starting dancing. With in about fifteen minutes basically all two thousand people there were now all standing and the empty area in front of the stage was shoulder to shoulder with people dancing. But the band came down in front of the stage and I was right in between the guitarist and the trumpet player. It was astounding. They played a couple songs in the crowd and then went back on stage for some more. The party went on late into the night and there was another night that I new I was not going to get much sleep.

With four volunteers in the area the Volunteers that went to the festival kind of just dispersed here and there during the night. I was one of the lucky ones. I got to sleep on a love seat. Many of the volunteers got better places to sleep like couches or beds but most slept on the floor, in tents or just outside in their sleeping bags. The one picture I did take was of the Volunteers sleeping outside all together huddle together like cows on a cold night to keep warm.

So there is much more to write about like our bond fire, my friend at three in the morning walking around drunk and falling into an open sewer, how when I was dancing the Basotho circled me and yelled, “dance white boy” of course though in a different language, how the traditional dancing and singing is, the crafts and competitions but I am planning on keeping this email kind of short. Just know though it was fun and I am already planning on what I am going to do next year.

Also I have added some people to this list, if anyone does not want to be on it please let me know.

I am not sure if I have sent it or not but I am including a picture of a Basotho man herding his cows.



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