Friday, April 22, 2016

How do you measure, a year in the life?

As of the 22nd of April 2016 my fellow Healthy Youth 15 (Lesotho 84) volunteers have officially been in country for one year. 

20 out of 23 of us are still going strong 1 year later!

2016 is a leap year so we have been in Lesotho for:

Days: 366
Hours: 8784
Minutes: 527040
Seconds: 31622400

Here's a snippet of the things I have experienced while living in the Mountain Kingdom for one year:

  • I've had two host families throughout this year.

My beautiful host family from Ha-Mothebesoane during training

My current host mother

  • I've learned to cook in a new environment with limited facilities.

  • I've been sworn in as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer.

  • I've had two different names in this year, my Sesotho name and my American name, which is starting to feel like two different identities...
Nthabeleng, my Sesotho name

  • I've built a keyhole garden in my backyard and failed to have anything except a tomato plant (and maybe some beets!) grow in it. 

Bo-'m'e who helped me

Tomato plant growing out of my compost pile

Baby beets!

  • I've adopted a kitten, who quickly became something I can no longer imagine life in Lesotho without.

  • I've had 3 sleepless nights because I've stayed up talking with friends

  • I've seen 2 meteor showers and 1 blood moon eclipse

  • I've read an absolutely absurd amount of books, 104! And listened to an equally absurd number of podcasts. 

And drank an absurd amount of Coke
  • I have upped my movie watching, have watched 3 seasons of Game of Thrones, and the first 2 seasons of Breaking Bad.

  • I've spent 6 nights in a tent or sleeping under the stars. Crazy to think of the difference from the last few years. . 

  • I've had two visitors from America; my friend Mike, and my parents!

With my parents in Cape Town

Mike in my neighbor's yard, trying to make friends with the donkey

  • I've laughed until I've cried and smiled until my cheeks hurt more times than I could count. I've also cried my fair share from sadness, loneliness, or homesickness. 

  • I've written 15 letters, something I hope to be better with in the upcoming year.

  • I've integrated into my village and feel at home amongst my community members.

  • I've participated in 2 Donkey Pub Crawls.

  • I've visited all 10 districts of Lesotho

  • I've seen all Big Five safari animals and even penguins.

  • I've eaten many different kinds of game meat.

  • I'm in the process of obtaining a grant to help pay for 5 students to be able to attend the Secondary School near me.
  • I've walked to all 12 villages in my area. 

  • I've attended 2 church services, a funeral, and a wedding at the end of the month.
Funeral of Ntate Spirit

He was one of my favorite people that I worked with in my community, and I was very sad to hear that he had passed while I was in South Africa with my parents. 

  • I've celebrated every holiday in Lesotho or South Africa.
4th of July

Christmas decorations in Maseru

Christmas Day at Sani Pass

New Years Eve in Durban

St. Patrick's Day in Cape Town

  • I've watched a friend's dog die of a disease from ticks, something that is far too common. 

  • I've been squished into the backseat of already full taxis, and given the enviable front seat. 
Taxi back to my village

Walking down my road to the taxi that heads into town

  • I've climbed the highest mountain that I can see from my house, Thaba Mokhele, and Table Mountain in Cape Town.
Thaba Mokhele

Table Mountain on a clear day
  • I've celebrated turning 27 in Lesotho, and missed all of the birthdays of people I care about in the States. Including my Dad's birthday, which is today!

  • I've missed the engagement of my best friend and next year will miss her wedding. 
Way too stoked
  • I've gone snorkeling with sharks.
Group shot before getting on the boat

  • I've swam in the Indian Ocean.

  • I've completely worn out a pair of Chacos just in a time for a new pair to arrive.

  • I've gone skinny dipping in the pool at the base of the Maletsunyane Falls in Semonkong.
Group Shot before hiking back up for a sorely needed lunch

  • I've taught Life Skills at all of the primary schools near me, and realized that I do not enjoy being in the classroom!
Experiential learning (and animal yoga!) will always be preferred

  • I've helped to facilitate a 5 day Grassroots Soccer camp that saw 67 students graduate.

  • I've done way too many loads of laundry (and bed sheets!) by hand.

  • I've lived for a year in a country dealing with an intense drought. Constantly aware of where every liter of water goes. 
I know the feeling of relief that comes from a full rain barrel.

  • I've felt so much love from home; through care packages, letters, pictures, phone calls, emails, and texts!
Arguably the BEST care package I have ever received.

  • I've made countless friendships that will live on with me even after my time here.
Almost all of the PC Lesotho volunteers in July 2015

Safari family

  • And finally.. I've watched countless sunsets and sunrises.

Cheer's to the next year!