On the road to Lesotho

On the road to Lesotho

Apologies for the long delay in posting. Few good reasons, lots of good excuses.

It’s vacation time and we are about 30 minutes away from entering the small country of Lesotho. It is a very mountainous area and also a very under-developed country located within the boundaries of South Africa. We will be staying in some very remote areas … as in no electricity at the lodging.

We will be returning to South Africa on the 25th, and will not have internet access until that time. I hope to return with lots of pictures and stories.

Padding, other than a thin blanket, would only interfere with benefits of the cool floor.

Padding, other than a thin blanket, would only interfere with benefits of the cool floor.

This child spent an hour on small porch amusing himself tracing the lines between tiles.

This child spent an hour on small porch amusing himself tracing the lines between tiles.

Have I mentioned lately it’s hot here? Really hot. In the early and mid-afternoon, it’s just to hot to do much. If I were brave — or foolish — enough to walk around the village during this time, I would find it still and quiet. Everyone would be sitting or sleeping under a tree or stretched out on the cool tile or cement floors of their small porches.

There are two trees in my family’s yard, but the area under both trees is not really conducive to restful slumber (picture trash piles and random junk storage). The garage and small area just outside the kitchen are the target slumber areas. Plenty of space, in the shade and a cool tile floor — who could ask for more?

“For hire” indicates rental

Dental office. Bet you couldn's guess that one!

Dental office. Bet you couldn’s guess that one!

Surgery refers to medical, not necessarily “surgical operations.”

Can’t really explain the “Urgent” part. Tombstones are usually added to grave sites much later.

Just a few signs I walk or ride past each day as I get closer to the more commercial part of my village. I just love it when they feel compelled to add a little bit of artwork.

I truly regret not getting a picture of one business sign I saw in another village. The business is named “Tombstones R Us.” Well, why not?

Filling bottles with “good” municapal water at school water tap.

Lest you think the water tap at school is “in the kitchen” — not.

John and I harp a lot on poor water conditions (that is, lack of potable water). However, when most days average 90+ degrees and we attempt to stay hydrated with something other than colas, accessibility to drinking water becomes rather important.

The good news is that we can get some water from our yard. It comes from a bore hole (well), and we limit its use for laundry, bathing and washing dishes. It is not suitable for drinking as it contains too many minerals and the well source is located just a little too close to the pit latrine for our comfort.

The closest local access to drinking water has been turned off for several months. The next closest location is too far away for us to walk and carry back any significant amount of water (oh, for want of a wheelbarrow).

Our current solution is for John and me to each take two 2-litre bottles to school with us each day and return home each afternoon with filled bottles. By doing this we can stay just ahead of amount needed for drinking water.

From the moment I learned that agamas, specifically the blue-headed tree agama (Acanthocercus Atricollis) were in my area, I wanted desperately to see one. What an amazing little reptile, especially if one is lucky enough to see a male species during mating season. That’s when it typically takes on the brilliant colors (although it is also reported they get colorful when feeding and when very hot).

Unfortunately, I’m still waiting and hoping. The top picture is compliments of Kelsey G., a fellow PCV who lives at the far north part of Limpopo province. (Check out Kelsey’s blog at http://www.kelsewhere.wordpress.com for another first-hand account of life-in-South Africa-as-a-PCV.) Pretty sure I recall that she saw this fellow in her village, and possibly in her yard. How fortunate.

I, on the other hand, did manage to find the remains of a small agama (bottom picture). I found the little skeleton in the field just behind the primary school. One student who happened to be passing by said he sees a lot of these around the village. Really??

By the way, mating season is March to May. That means I still have a chance to see one in full color before I leave. I may have to spend a bit more time outside.

At least the humidity was not so high (by southern U.S. standards).

At least the humidity was not so high (by southern U.S. standards).

It's a long, dusty and hot walk to school, and even hotter going home.

It’s a long, dusty and hot walk to school, and even hotter going home.

Even the cows know to find some shade.

Even the cows know to find some shade.

I realize that if you are in the U.S. and reading this around the day this is posted, you are quite possibly look out on a snow covered street or yard. Even if there is no snow, I’m guessing that you are not sweating much right now (unless you are sitting just a little too close to the fireplace). Wish I could say the same.

Here in the southern hemisphere, it is HOT. Or as we say in Sepedi, “Kwa fisha!”, which means either “I’m hot” or “It’s hot.” Not really sure, but it doesn’t matter as the result is the same.

The last two days I’ve had to walk the 2 km to school instead of catching a ride with my neighbor as I usually do. That, of course, corresponded with two of the hotter days we have had so far. I have given up on the “must look professional and presentable” goal. That is, not unless a red, flushed appearance and a sheen of sweat covering me from head to toe counts as a plus.

I know I have experienced higher temps back in my home states of Georgia and Alabama. No doubt friends in Texas would scoff at a mere 94 degrees. The problem here is there is no air conditioning around for respite. Our rooms at the house sit in direct sun all day, so there’s no relief there (except for the electric fan … a godsend!). My only solace is that I have to remember that other PCVs from my group are in areas that are notoriously hotter (northern Limpopo and on the edge of the Kalahari Desert in Northern Cape). Fortunately for all of us here, summer won’t last forever.

These reminded me of elephant legs.

These reminded me of elephant legs.

The vertical parts are part of the trunk, not just a bunch of sticks propped against the tree.

The vertical parts are part of the trunk, not just a bunch of sticks propped against the tree.

What kid wouldnt be tempted to climb this tree?

What kid wouldnt be tempted to climb this tree?

The Fever Tree ... one of my favorites here. Very yellow all over, and altogether, a nice shape..

The Fever Tree … one of my favorites here. Very yellow all over, and altogether, a nice shape..

A lot of the trees here are rather scrappy and laden with thorns (indeed, I think some are just grossly overgrown bushes). Many others, however, are rather interesting. I will be happy to get home to our oaks, maples, dogwoods, and maybe even the pines, but in the meantime I will continue to enjoy the variety of trees around me.

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