Saturday, July 24, 2010

T'sehlanyane National Park here I come!

We found out our site assignments, where we will be going for the next two years last Friday. For the first time in Peace Corps Lesotho, we got to write essays stating our preferences on which sites we'd like to receive, which was really nice. I had a hard time deciding which sites to put as my top choices, there were so many that had a great job, or were in a great site, but looking for a site that has potential for my master's research really limited my choices. I ended up getting one of my top choices, the Maliba lodge ecotourism site! I am so excited, the site and job sound amazing. I get to work with youth, the local villages and on environmental conservation. I will be coordinating between local schools and villages to incorporate them into the benefits of lodge and tourism. I'll be working with schools on vegetable and fruit tree planting, to sell as produce to the lodge, and with the local communities to sell their crafts in the lodge gift store. I big part of my job will be promoting environmental conservation since it's in the T'sehlanyane National Park, spreading awareness on conservation management in the local schools and communities. I'll probably teach environmental conservation in the schools, which I think will be a lot of fun. I've missed teaching this past year. And I have so many different tasks/jobs that if one is going slowly or not working out there are a lot of other things I can work on. And there is definitely research potential, ecotourism and connecting the benefits of tourism to local communities (which will basically be what my job is) is really big in international development planning right now.
I'm going to live in a traditional round mud hut without running water or electricity! I'm going to get a real rural Africa Peace Corps experience. And the village by the lodge that I'll be living in is in a national forest in the mountains, it's supposed to be really beautiful. (And is one of the nicest places to stay in Lesotho if anyone wants to come to visit!) And the lodge where I will work has internet, so I can stay in touch mush better!
I'll only be a 45 minute taxi ride away from two volunteers (a married couple) in our group that are really great, it'll be nice being that close to some other Americans. I can't wait to move in, I am definitely ready to be done with training. I like classes back home, but its hard to be in class from 8:30-4 everyday again like in high school. I like Sesotho class, I'm learning a lot but there is so much about the language that I still need to learn. Training is only another 2 weeks, then we spend a week in the training center before moving to site. So in mid-August I'll move to T'sehlanyane National Park!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sunrises and home baked Bread

The last couple of weeks have been really good. I've started focusing on the things here that I love rather than what or who I miss from home, and I've found that I've stopped missing a lot of material things. Not having electricity or running water was definitely a difficult adjustment at first, but now I find it kind of satisfying having to do everything by hand. Though I wouldn't kind skipping laundry. I also am really enjoying cooking things from scratch, I've gotten really good at baking bread. And knowing exactly where all my food has come from is a great change. I've almost become a vegetarian, meat is just so hard to get and keep. My room is as cold as a refrigerator (I can make jello by leaving it out in my room!) but I don't trust storing meat there. But eating meat only once every two weeks isn't that big a switch for me, I like eggs and milk better anyways.

My favorite time of day is now at sunrise. I used to hate getting up early, but without electricity my life revolves around the sun and daylight a lot more. Sunsets mean that I have to hurry up and get home to lock myself in my room for the rest of the night. But sunrises are beautiful, everything is so calm and the animals are all starting to wake up. I love hearing the cowbells at sunrise and sunset as they go to and from grazing fields. I'm not as big a fan of the roosters, they not only crow at sunrise but all day and usually in the middle of the night.

Probably the scariest thing that has happened to me so far was when I saw this giant insect with pinchers. I showed my eight-year old sister and she told me to kills it, I was wearing slippers so I told her to kill it, but when we looked back it had disappeared. It turns out it was a scorpion and we have no idea where it went. Now I always shake out my shoes before putting them on. At least I don't have rats like some of the other volunteers. (And dad, there are no poisonous snakes in Lesotho). I feel very safe here, although my host family has made me afraid to go out after dark, but they also believe that there are invisible men that hide in corners of houses (it's why traditional houses are round). The only thing to be scared of is the dogs they use for protection, at night they get really aggressive, one volunteer has already gotten bitten. I've definitely gotten a bit tougher skinned since I first got here. Last week my host father was butchering one of our pigs that he had just killed, next to me as I was doing laundry and I wasn't grossed out at all, I was only worried about getting bits of pig in my clean laundry. And it turned out to be the best pork I've ever tasted.