Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Conference Weekend

This has nothing to do with this blog, I just thought it was funny.  This is my cat growling / roaring? at me while guarding his goat leg.

I mentioned it in a previous blog but I’ll say it again.  Melinda and I were voted by our education group to be peer support network leaders.  Our responsibilities are to check up on our group of individuals from time to time to ensure they are doing alright.  The Peace Corps wisely figures the best support comes from fellow volunteers, who are experiencing similar issues.  We had a two day workshop in the historic region of Thaba Bosiu.  Due to the fact that neither of us can make it that far by the time the workshop began, we got to stay overnight in Maseru the Thursday before the workshop.  We bet a beer to see who could make it to Maseru first.  She beat me by an hour and a half.  

A completely crushed taxi passed by me on my way to Mapholaneng.  

We got a late lunch / early dinner at the restaurant No. 7 (ooh fancy name).  You would think after all this time of eating painfully bland vegetarian food I would get a nice juicy burger or steak.  Nope, what I really really miss is a fresh and flavorful salad.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a meat eater through and through but I can’t get lettuce in my district (I can get worm infested cabbage though).  

Melinda’s salad had so much cheese on it she may have been better off choosing a burger.  

She confessed that she likes color portraits so here you go.  After our meal, we headed to the grocery store Shoprite to pick up a few things for a cheap dinner in.  She had a latté (nose pointed in the air when you say “Latté”) at an outdoor coffee shop and then we (she) called a taxi.  

We are forbidden to walk around Maseru at night so we waited in front of a well lit bank for our taxi.  After somehow missing our ordered taxi, they sent another and we headed to the guest house.  

We stayed at the Boikutsong guest house a few weeks back for our flu shots.  They have a decent breakfast with plenty of condiments.  

I swapped my 35mm lens for the Helios and we left the guest house early for the taxi rank.  These guys were growing outside our room.

Maseru contains some interesting people and everyone seemed to want a photo from my Fuji + Helios camera combo.  


We got to our Thaba Bosiu taxi and it was nearly empty except for a fellow volunteer Eloise.  She offered to watch our bags and we headed out to get some food.  We wandered the streets and found our way into a Ma-china shop (a Chinese owned store).  What is in a Ma-china shop you ask? 

You can get a wig.

Some copyright infringed Awesome Snacks® (see what I did there?).

And everyone’s favorite…

Gripe water.  I don’t know if you can read the fine print but it says “To Comfort Babies with Gripes”.  I’m guessing it’s just pure grain alcohol and sugar, that’ll cure any gripes.  

We headed back to wait in front of the taxi for a while.  During the 50 minute or so wait, 5 people asked me to take their pictures.  Just about as many took photos of us.  

A cow bell salesman next to us posed for a photo.

We eventually got to the hotel and met up with everyone else.  Thaba Bosiu is in the background.  Our friends Ryan and Lisa Ried are also a part of the peer support network.  Lisa wanted me to take their picture outside.  

I asked Lisa to give me her best model impression and this is what she came up with haha.  

They returned the favor.  Can you imagine how squinty eyed our children would be?

Yeah, I’m definitely the lucky one.  

After an early afternoon arrival, we had a half day of the workshop.  It was actually a very informative and well run training session.  

Afterwards we had dinner and played a 14 person dice game called Liar’s Dice.  It was only fun because Jeff was in charge.  He is one of the three that Melinda and I ran into on our Thabana Ntlenyana backpacking trip.  Ben, on the right, was also one of the three.  Jeff has an infectious personality and is a joy to be around.  

Just a flower to look at.  After the game we Skyped with Melinda’s parents.  It was wonderful meeting you Mike and Sue.  

Melinda was a really great sport and lovely model as always.  I asked her to pose about 50 times for me while I fumbled with my new manual focus lens.  The focal plane (distance between what is in focus near to far) is so narrow with the Helios that just a few eyelashes are in sharp focus.  

The whole peer support group lined up for a photo and then, Jeff jumped out of the group and grabbed my camera to take our picture.  A manual focus portrait lens makes a lousy group photo.  Despite my objections, he went along with it.  

A color photo for Melinda.  The background has that infamous swirling bokeh I talked about in my Helios! blog.  

After the conference, we headed to the Maseru taxi rank and got on separate taxis.  

I took the taxi to the next nearest town of TY and hitch hiked the rest of the way back.  I was picked up by two people back to back, who were taught by Peace Corps maths teachers when they were in high school.  It really made for lively conversations and a really pleasant ride.  It’s nice to see that Peace Corps is making a real difference in peoples lives.  

School break begins on the 16th of this month and I cannot wait. 

Thanks for reading.


- Joel

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