Peace Corps Trainees finally get one day to relax, after a week of teaching 3-4 lessons a day, followed by learning Sesotho and practicing for our final language exam.
We have been observed and critiqued daily, and working hard to get all our lesson plans done according to the Lesotho structure.
Even though it’s a day of relaxation, we never get to sleep in. The bus leaves at 7:30 a.m., supposedly but by the time everyone is on board, it’s more like 8:30 a.m.
We’re visiting the Tsehlanyane National Park, in the northern part of Lesotho, where there’s a beautiful waterfall.
23 Peace Corps trainees are crammed into a bus, and I make sure I’m in the front, next to the window. Music is blaring from someone’s iPod, and everyone starts singing. It’s a long journey.
We stop at Shoprite to buy snacks, however, some of us were (mis)informed, that we were supposed to shop for the week; this would be our only chance. As usual, I take my grocery shopping seriously, as there’s hardly anything to buy except eggs, onions, cooking oil, laundry detergent, candy and beef bouillon cubes at my tiny “Macufe” village store. This Shoprite is amazing! It’s almost like a U.S. grocery store with mushrooms and green beans—yes I haven’t had mushrooms since October 4th— and as I searched for butter, I only found butter spread, but at least that’s better than nothing.
Once we reach the National Park, which does have an entrance fee of 30 rand, (approximately $2.00,) we are in a giant picnic area with BBQs and a lawn; something else I haven’t seen in a while.
My training village landscape is more like a desert with sand blowing through the cracks under my door and windows.
I see Thomas, the only other “older” Peace Corps volunteer, I haven’t yet met, in our crowd. It’s always comforting to meet someone over 50, when you’re with young volunteers all the time. I decide to follow Thomas and a couple of other volunteers towards a beautiful water hole, where we can swim.
I stick my foot in the water and am so tempted to jump in, but decide that I’m in the mood for a glass of wine, and a bit of pampering at the 5 star Maliba lodge on top of the mountain. This is the lodge that I booked for myself for a mini-vacation. I was eager to see it. We hike up a steep hill, and by the time I reach the top, I’m all sweaty, and ready for my ice-cold glass of wine.
I finally get to sit on a comfortable couch, instead of my white plastic chair at home, or the narrow bench at school. I’m in heaven, and I can finally relax, and think about how I’m going to take care of myself, and stay at this lodge as a special treat.
I look forward to relaxing with wifi, TV, a comfortable bed, electricity, and let’s not forget a nice shower and toilet. I won’t need my pee bucket, nor a bucket to bathe in. I might even get a massage. I deserve to pamper myself, and that’s what I’m going to do.
Susan Jackson says
You are definitely looking good so the lack of food can’t be doing much harm. Be sure to get yourself a massage and do a lot of writing for the book to come.
Penelope James says
Sounds like a really tough – and rough – routine. I’m glad you got a break, even a short one, but definitely stay there, get your massage, and a bit of pampering.
In the photo, I see only women. Are there any other men besides Thomas?
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Hilary Arndt says
Ohh Sonia, Michael and I just checked your pictures. Good for you!! What a great balance. Countryside is beautiful, and I love the Trust tee shirt. Dig deep my friend and keep the yin and yang.
Marian Beaman says
Sonia, you are eating up life here with a spoon – a huge spoon!
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It’s all so incredible, Sonia. Well done!
I hope the vacation lasts more than one day, though.
I’m starting to envy you, but I realise how
difficult it must be…Enjoy!!!
Suellen Zima says
Your posts are coming through fine. This one made me think of my first time in China in 1988 when I talked my way into teaching at a Tourism School. I was given a room at their model hotel at the school. No heat. No hot water. But it had its advantages. What it didn’t have was good food. Since I was the only guest at the model hotel, the only food available was what the students ate. We were pretty far away from town. The closest little tiny store had something with the unlikely English name of “pitfilled chocolate.” Bad as it was, it was the only food that appealed to me at all. I must have gone through a lot of it.
Judie Fisher says
I’m thinking about all the things we take for granted, including water, that are a luxury for you now. Your strength and resolve to fulfill your goal and dream of the Peace Corps is to be respected, and another reason to be proud of the growth you’ve achieved in the past year… Keep up the great work and just notice the changes you are making without really having a choice. I know two others who are going to spend the next year in Africa: one in Capetown to follow the new love in his life and one in Rwanda to teach English, leaving her husband and life here for the 12 mos. she’s committed to. I hope we can talk on Skype sometime soon. Is there any way we can set a date/time to do that? I send my love to you for a Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! With much love and lots of hugs, Judie
Judie Fisher says
I just posted a very long and heartfelt post/reply and it was rejected as being a duplicate comment! I don’t see either… miss you, love you, wish you happy holidays and joyful new year! xoxo judie