So as I write this, I’m hanging out in the VRC (Volunteer Resource Center) in Qacha’s Nek.
The VRC is a room, five feet by ten feet of what feels like a little bit of heaven. There’s a computer, a big bookshelf packed with a lot of classics, and electricity (even a lightswitch with a working light)! There’s also a flush toilet and a running faucet around the corner, and although neither of these things actually increases my quality of life by much, it makes everything here seem so much easier and more pleasant.
The reason I’m enjoying this comfort is because my dog bit me yesterday. I was attempting to apply tick/louse medicine to him, of which he’s terrified and a few minutes after trapping and pinning him, I attempted to pet him and he found his revenge by cutting my hand a tad. This is the kind of injury I wouldn’t even consider in America, but the Peace Corps has a pretty strict “dog bite” policy that requires me to get a Rabies shot for the most provoked bites (and I understand and appreciate the rule). Tiger (my dog) has been acting a bit weird recently and I figured I’d rather stay on the safe side.
So instead of writing lesson plans for tomorrow, I’m taking it easy on Qacha’s Nek and eating a little bit of cheese with some Frank’s Red Hot (thanks to a package from home!). This is definitely a luxury meal here, for better or worse.
On the Tsoelike Sweat:
This past weekend was the Tsoelike Sweat (it’s alliterative if pronounced correctly, this I promise). I met up with Gwen and hung out at Christina’s place in Ha Monteko (a 4 rand 4+1 ride out of the camptown) on Friday. Three other girls came over after finishing a backpacking trip (on their way back home) so we had a packed night at Christina’s (and even snuck in some good scary stories, provoked by a mix of local insects/herd boys/and strange episodes from the home front).
On Saturday Gwen, Christina, and I headed out to Au Plaas (part of Tsoelike in the same way Ha Sterling [where I live] is part of Tebellong) and met up with Chris, Ben, and Victoria. We hiked down the little canyon near Chris’ place and set up our Sweat Lodge right next to the river Chris lives near. We all went out and gathered some kindling/mild firewood to add to the stuff that Chris had bought from his school (hauling it down was not a lot of fun for my back). An hour later we had the fire blazing and a few rocks sitting inside accumulating heat.
After letting the rocks heat for a while, we put them inside our sweat lodge (constructed of two rain-flies from tents and a whole bunch of burlap bags stretched over the top). We read some poetry and Chris poured water over our coals and we got a nice sweat/steam going on inside. After doing this for a while we ran outside and went for a wonderful swim in the river which definitely invigorated all of us (it’s a little chilly in Qacha’s, maybe 65 or 70 degrees F outside on this day). We spent the rest of the night Braai’ing (BBQ’ing) and having ourselves a fair amount of drink and lots of good talk/hanging out. Most of us forewent the tents we’d constructed and chose to sleep outside (and even endured a middle of the night drizzle). We hiked out the next day and had a GREAT time over the course of the weekend.
On school matters:
I did recently find out that one of my coworkers (a teacher) impregnated a Form E student (senior year high school by American standards) last year (maybe the year before?). Apparently shortly afterwards he had an affair with another of my coworkers (a female teacher) and he reportedly beat her. She threatened to contact the police, but I don’t know how far all of that went, but the situation was “resolved” well before I came (she was probably shamed into keeping quiet).
My best friend at school, and my counterpart (PC sets up people in the community/job that are supposed to aide the transition of PCVs to their community/job) is leaving my school. She’s leaving because she’s going to take her COSC (senior level exam). This means that one of the most competent teachers I work with is leaving to return to school so she can practice for the equivalent of the SATs in America. Also of note is the fact that I am indeed the oldest teacher in my school (aside from the principal who teaches Sesotho only) out of 10. I am also only one of three of the ten teachers with a tertiary degree (this means most of the teachers in my school have the same degree that the students they’re teaching hope to obtain by the completion of school).
In other news, one of my students in Form C, A sophomore of high school, has dropped out due to pregnancy. Fortunately due to the young age of teachers at my school, we remain rather liberal (despite the fact that I teach for an Anglican Christian school) and even encouraged the student to return to studies. Unfortunately she has apparently teased several past impregnated girls so she probably will not return.
Another Form C student’s parent was murdered. Apparently his father had been after a married woman for a while, was beaten nearly to death (the family assumed they’d killed him) and continued to pursue the same woman. The second time the family, utilizing a spear was able to successfully (?) murder the boy’s father, so he’s now a double orphan. Unfortunately, this makes him one of the many at my school. Lesotho is supposed to reimburse at least partial tuition on these students (those who are double orphans) but they inconsistently come through on their promises. Fortunately, my school is rather liberal and will allow him to continue assuming that the government will pay (this is not true in all places).
Not that everything in school is sad and bad, there’s plenty of great stuff going on. The Form B’s are doing quite well in their quarter presentation (they have a big test every quarter… theirs is coming up next week). The Form A’s are working hard (their English is still pretty horrid). I have a hard time assessing the Form C’s because I only teach them Physics and English Literature (not language) so it’s hard to get a good general standing from them, but their summaries of the horrible British play we’re reading are pretty good.
Looks like I’ll be heading to Bloemfontein (sp?) in South Africa for my first break (before April 6th I won’t be able to leave the country due to PC regulations). I’ll be crashing at a friend’s friend’s place thereabouts and will spend a fair amount of time between coffee shops, book stores and a movie theatre (none of which exist in the country in which I dwell) with Jack (and I have no idea who else is involved in this caper, it seems most people are heading to Durban, which rests on the coast of the Zulu Nation and is about as close and expensive for me to visit as Maseru, so I’ll definitely be heading over there at another point).
On actually arriving in Maseru:
Turns out the Rabies shot has to be done in two sessions (the first was today... I had three shots during preservice training) and another on saturday. So that means I'll be chilling here till then. AKA I'll be on the internet a bunch and reading a bunch and being really smelly (only brought one change of clothes cause I thought I'd only be here for an overnight)
SO IF YOU EMAIL ME AT BRETTMBURK@GMAIL.COM I'LL WRITE YOU BACK WITHIN A DAY UP TILL SATURDAY!