Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Nice Long Weekend 1/2

Winter is approaching and all Peace Corps volunteers in country need their flu shots.  My rural district had the choice of meeting the medical team in Mokhotlong town as a group or traveling to Maseru and staying overnight in a hotel, all expenses paid.  Seemed like a no brainer to me but I was the only one who opted to travel to Maseru, the rest of the troglodytes decided to meet the medical team locally.  We had Monday off so I decided to use the opportunity to spend an extended weekend with Melinda.

I set out last Thursday for Quthing 491 km or 305 miles.  The day didn’t begin very productively as after two hours I had only managed to travel 25 km due to a serious lack of weekday traffic.  Eventually I was picked up by the chief and his wife from the nearby village of Thabang.  I boarded their Toyota Rav-4 and joined them on their way to Maseru.  It was a very slow trip and I reached Maseru by 2:30 pm.  I still had a long ways to Quthing so I decided to just take a taxi the rest of the way.  I reached Quthing at around 6:00, after a bit of taxi musical chairs, I finally ended up with a seat to Mount Moorosi.  By the time I was dropped off at Melinda’s stop (Thamblock) it was dark.  I walked half an hour by headlamp to Melinda’s place.  

My birthday is coming up soon.  Melinda made me two apple pies (thanks for the delicious filling Brandon).  It’s amazing what Melinda can bake given her very basic cooking setup.  She uses a small two burner camping style stove with a pan inside of a pot, to mimic the conditions of an oven.  I’ve perfected French bread but Melinda makes all kinds of goodies from brownies to banana bread, which she also made me.  

I was a very happy camper.  The pie was a wonderful surprise after a 13 hour trip.  

Melinda was tired as well.  

The following day we just bummed around all day.  We listened to a few podcasts, napped, played cards (score details not important), and had a relaxing day together.  

I got two great birthday presents.  I kind of have a thing for popcorn, okay I eat it almost every night, so Melinda ordered me a real cheese popcorn topping (thanks for shipping it Susan).  We have an inside bet as to how long it lasts.  
I joined a bowling league this past summer as a favor to fill in for someone who couldn’t finish the league.  As much as I refused to be labeled as a bowler, I actually started to take the game pretty seriously.  Melinda thinks that’s funny and bought me a ridiculously cool beanie that says “Tonight We Bowl” on it (It’s a quote from the movie Grease II).  I’ll probably end up wearing it everyday as it gets colder around here.  It’s kind of dorky but that’s my style.  

Melinda trimmed my mustache.  

It rained all night and into the morning.  Qacha’s Nek district in the southeast actually got a dusting of snow.  Here is a view from Melinda’s property.  On Saturday, we had to get to the hospital in Maseru to receive our flu vaccinations.  We got a late start at the expense of a nice breakfast.  

Beginning the walk down her road towards the A1 in order to hitch-hike.  It was nice and cool for once.

Here is a view of Melinda’s village with Thaba Mokotjomela in the background, which we hiked up in the blog “Come on a Hike With Us 1”.  The terrain and vegetation is very different from Mokhotlong.  The mountains are less abrupt and eroded in my district and the vegetation more resembles high plains.  

Here is a panoramic comparison of the two districts, both photos were taken this month:



The trees in my district are strictly located around sources of water.  We have small coniferous forests that are planted for wood collection, where as Quthing has wild trees all over the district.  

Melinda teaches English, grades 4 through 7, at Sebapala Primary School.  She has to deal with issues like kids pooping their pants in class and I have to deal with students trying to “make the sex” after hours.  We each deal with different types of problems both at school and our sites.  It’s nice to have each other for support.  

I miss my friends and family back home but I honestly can’t think of a happier time in my life than here in Africa with Melinda.  

She seems pretty happy as well.

Melinda wanted this photo and the clouds just happened to be perfect.

The clouds cleared up on our walk to the road and it began to grow warm.  Here is Thaba Mokotjomela viewed from the road.  I think Quthing is the most beautiful of the nine out of ten districts I’ve visited.  

My place is just 491 km and a ten minute walk away.  Look at all of the trees.

We got a ride to Quthing and hiked down the road, in order to be out of site from the taxis.  People often will not stop if you are standing in view of a taxi out of respect for the taxi drivers.  We were quickly picked up by a lively bunch heading just up the road.  After being dropped off we had to dodge a crazy man following us and then we were on the road again in no time.  We ended up grabbing some fruit and cookies (biscuits not likuku) before taking a taxi the rest of the way to Maseru.  We arrived around 3pm and took a 4 + 1 (sedan taxi) to Wilies Hospital.  

We waited in reception for a few minutes before being greeted by the doctor.  He was a jovial individual, originally from Ghana.  There was a photo of the doctor with Bill Clinton in the examination room.  

After the vaccinations we headed to a pizza joint called Scooters.  We hung out for a while before heading to the hotel for the night.


- Joel


  1. We're holding your spot. 5/25 is first night. Bring the hat. Good thing you're crafty with commutes.

  2. Haha I wonder if I can get a weekly travel voucher.