Edit : New Pictures are up!
Well guys, sad news. Turns out I'm not in the peace corps after all. Listen to tuesday's schedule: Woke up, had freshly-ground coffee, dress, go to the gym, swim for a bit, have an amazingly hot, steamy, high-pressure shower, pizza and a beer. This isn't the peace corps, it's the Posh Corps.
So, just gave my first swimming lesson, to a basotho. Learns pretty quick, considering I've never taught anybody swimming before. I had just finished swimming a few laps after a decent gym session, and this guy just comes up to me and asks me if I can teach him how to swim. I aquiesced, and he came back in a few hours (during which I watched a movie in the VRC - volunteer resource center). As I said, I'd never taught before, so I reached back to when I learned to swim, or really more when I saw my sisters learn, and took him through the basics of breathing and kicking. We'll see if there's any followup lessons.
We are now officially PCVs - Peace Corps Volunteers, before we were just PCTs - peace corps trainees. Fun fun. The ceremony was like all ceremonies, unecessarily long and extraordinarly boring. I think I didn't read for about 15 minutes. We had to sing and dance - apparently we were even on national TV. The best part was the food at the end. Funny though, when we went to sit down, some Basotho had already raided our table of plates and silverware. Slightly annoying, but we did get to eat, which is all that matters.
First of all, a very Merry Christmas (and Happy New Year) to all those stateside! I envy those in the northern hemisphere, it's odd to have christmas in the heat. I've been in summer so long now, it feels weird. Like time has stopped in an eternal, sunny July.3)
We'd been at site just a week or so, 'settling in' - by which I mean making shelves, sleeping a lot, and going to the gym, when Christmas came and we were allowed to go visit someone for a few days. Most of us in the South4)decided to meet up at Jeff's place - for reasons unknown to me. He has a tin roof (gets really hot) and is mildly remote. At any rate, a few of us5) met in Mafetang, the camptown closest to Jeff's. They got there earlier and went to Shoprite6) I got there later, inevitably delayed by sleeping in, making coffee, and working out. And reading a bit. Like I said, /inevitable/ delay.
By the time I arrived, they had already found the taxi7), so I jumped off the bus8) and went in search of them. It was not an easy search. The town was absolutely packed. Madness and mayhem were the rule of the day, this 24th of December. Go see the pictures, it was awful. In the end, I didn't find them, but an ntate found me and led me to them. They were crammed in the back of a taxi (again, pictures), and had been waiting for around an hour. The driver told me to sit up front, so I was nice and comfy.9) We set off, with famu music10)painfully blaring, as always. Actually painful, I mean. My ears hurt. Luckily, it wasn't too long of a taxi ride, so I only had to endure about an hour of the worst music in the world playing at full volume directly into my eardrum.11) They dropped us off in the middle of nowhere, and pointed in the direction we needed to walk, which included over a fairly big hill. We couldn't start walking though, because news came through that we had to go to a ma-china12) shop about 20 minutes away, to buy water, and a few other things that I've momentarily forgotten and are also incredibly unimportant.
We got back, and started the trek towards the hill. A 40lb bag on my back, and of water in each hand (about each, which doesn't sound like a lot, but you walk for 45 minutes without letting go) made the walk…a great workout. I couldn't uncurl my hands for about an hour afterwards, and my shoulders hurt for days. In other words, a nice walk.
Blah blah blah, etc. We had a great time, cooked a ton, ate well, slept terribly.13) The only other notable thing that we did was slaughter and cook chickens. The previous day, Jeff and I walked about an hour to buy some chickens, and carried them back in a sack. We let them roam free, and they took advantage of this by sitting on the ground and not moving. Neel had seen his family (host family) slaughter them once, but other than that we knew absolutely nothing. We carried them over to a small pit, and sawed off their heads with a kitchen knife. Mine took a while, I couldn't quite find the jugular, and the neck was tougher than it looks. Once dead, we dipped them in boiling water, and then in cold, to loosen the skin. Skinned them, then gutted them - this was the hardest part - and, lastly, dismembered them. Then just boiled them in a cauldron with veggies for a couple of hours, shredded them, and cooked it in a gravy.14) Pretty easy, actually.
I got back yesterday, enjoyed sleeping in again, and today went shopping for things to make a hammock with. We'll see how that goes. And things to knit with - I randomly found a sewing supply store. We'll also see how that goes. No idea how to knit. Tomorrow I'm going to start getting rocks for my raised garden, and then comes the pullup bar. Busy busy.
I'll post pics when I can, right now I'm tethering my phone, which devours data. Patience.