27 April, 2009

A Close Encounter

Walking home alone from school, something on the ground caught my eye.  I had missed treading on a snake by a whisker.  It looked at me with its beady eye (actually it was probably scared but I didn’t like to ask) and licked its lips with its forked tongue – it was almost certainly poisonous.
My mind was tortured with the conflict between species preservation and protection of humans and animals.  I decided on the path of self-preservation.  A few cattle were grazing nearby so I called on the herdboy for help.  He came over with his big stick.  He gently tapped the snake on the head to stun it, then gave it a heavier blow to kill it.
I have to admit to feeling quite relieved at its demise.

Snake

The photo, taken a couple of days later, shows the evidence.

25 April, 2009

Family Visit

We had a great time over Easter when we were visited by our daughters, Annie and Caroline, with our grandchildren, Lily and Joshua.

Our first trip out was to see some dinosaur footprints: there are prints from three different kinds of dinosaur at Subeng River.

Dinosaur Footprints

Just downstream from the footprints, the locals have carved one of the rocks into the shape of a frog.

Frog Rock

The local children taught Lily and Joshua to make models with the clay beside the river.

Clay Models

Afterwards, we headed up into the mountains to find the only rain that we encountered during their visit.  So we had an English style picnic inside the vehicle we had hired for their stay.

Picnic

Easter was a big time for church services: not just on Easter Sunday but on the Saturday night, too.  We went along at 10pm and bailed out at 12:45am. but we gather the service didn’t finish until 3:30am.  On the Sunday morning, most people were back for another five hours, when the service included the baptism of over forty children.

Elizabeth wore traditional Lesotho dress – a Seshoeshoe she had had specially made for the occasion – and Annie and Lily wore Malawi dress.

Seshoeshoe

After the service, we held an Easter egg hunt for our Lily, Joshua and our neighbours’ children.

Easter Egg Hunt

For a “holiday within a holiday” we spent a few days at Malealea.  We all visited the waterfall by car and then David and Caroline went back by horseback the next day.

Waterfall

But, on the last morning, we all went for a pony trek.  It was a first for the children, but they loved it.

Lily Riding

We were back at St Agnes in time for the High School’s cultural day, where the students performed a variety of traditional dances – sometimes updated so that they could have a dig at their teachers.

Dance

While they were here, Annie took the opportunity of having one of our neighbours braid Lily’s hair.  We thought Lily was pulling too many faces as her hair was pulled into shape, but the hairdresser told us it was quite usual for children to run away half way through the braiding as they found the process so uncomfortable.

Braiding

Our daughters had brought over some books to add to the library at Elizabeth’s school at Ha Fusi and these were very well received.

Books

… and Joshua looked very settled at the school.

Joshua at School

But Lily enjoyed it so much, that she spent a morning at our neighbouring Primary School at St Agnes.

Lily at School

We all had a wonderful time and the two weeks passed by ever so quickly.  We’re settling back into a routine again, but it seems quiet without them.

Family

18 April, 2009

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible

We apologise to readers for the lack of information on our blog recently.  Some of the family are staying with us for a fortnight and we have been very busy exploring Lesotho with them.

We have lots to tell and will be updating the blog some time next week.

Meanwhile, thank you to those of you sending complaints (about the lack of updates) masquerading as messages of goodwill!

5 April, 2009

Palm Sunday Marathon

On Friday afternoon, members of the Mothers’ Union from all eight churches attached to St Agnes started arriving for their weekend retreat.  There were about 400 of them.  They certainly know how to carry a suitcase!

palm-sunday5.jpg

Their meeting finished by joining in with our Palm Sunday service scheduled to start at 10:30 (African time).  There seemed to be quite a lot of singing coming from the church at about quarter to ten and, not wanting to miss out on the fun, we got ready and walked down at about ten o’clock.  We also remembered to pull a few branches from a tree on our way to represent our waving palms.  When we got there, MU were in full voice and literally dancing round the church while waiting for the service.  Soon, everyone started to leave so we followed them down the road so that we could process back into church.  The banners for the various groups were brought into service and we sang the Sesotho version of “All Glory Laud and Honour” waving our branches as we went.

palm-sunday6.jpg

palm-sunday7.jpg

The church was absolutely packed- someone fetched more chairs from the neighbouring school, and all the children crowded round the priest behind the altar.  The service proceeded as usual but was regularly interrupted by impromptu singing of hymns at frequent intervals.  The offertory, as we have described earlier, took nearly an hour.  By the time we had finished it was 3 o’clock.  We had been at church for five hours – long even by African standards, but fun.

1 April, 2009

A Busy Weekend

On Friday we went into Maseru to take part in a pub quiz, organised by a group of ex-pats at the Maseru Club to raise funds for an orphanage.  We knew it would be a late night, so we booked into the Anglican Centre – fairly central and just R250 for a double room.

The quiz was scheduled to start at 7pm but the ex-pats seemed to be working on local time and we got going at 8pm.  We made up a team with three water engineers and a banker and settled down for the eight rounds of questions.

Now, Elizabeth doesn’t like to be called competitive in these situations … but things started to go her way when she won one of the raffle prizes (and then declined to take another when another of her numbers was called).  In the quiz itself, one of the teams (there were seventeen in all) quickly pulled ahead but several of the other teams stayed within a mark or so of each other.  It was a tense finish as the winners were announced in reverse order, but our team just eased itself into second place.  Fortunately, one of the other contestants offered to take us and our prizes back to the Anglican Centre, where we got to our room just before midnight – definitely our latest night ever in Lesotho.

We set off early for home the next morning, where we had planned to try out a local restaurant with our Peace Corps neighbour.  We were just setting off with her, walking past all the cars of the people attending a wedding at the church, when out came the priest and said, in effect, “get your things, you’re joining the wedding party”.  So we apologised to our friend and the next thing we knew we were having a drink at the very restaurant we had planned to visit.  But this proved to be just to fill in the time while everybody else went to a photo session.  We were soon driven on to a local school, whose hall had been taken over for the wedding reception.

At one end of the hall was a stage where, after making their entrance preceded by two little flower girls strewing petals, the bride and groom were seated along with the best man and chief bridesmaid.  The half of the hall near the stage had guests seated at round tables formally laid out very nicely with table cloths, cutlery and glasses.  The other half was set with rows of chairs as if for a concert and these too were full of guests.  There must have been around three hundred people in total.

Despite being rather late guests, we were found places at the round tables and after a short introductory speech and a grace, the buffet tables at the side of the room were opened for business.  The food was very good and quite western in style – and was continually being topped up by the outside caterers.  One advantage of the guests in the informal seating was the ability to go up quickly to the food.  The rest of us did the usual thing of waiting first for the top table, and then following table by table.  Unfortunately the priest – and we with him – had to leave as soon as we had eaten, but as we left we passed a steady stream of guests still arriving.  We were assured that the party would be still going strong at midnight – and the bride’s father had already given the priest his apologies for being absent from church the next day.

After all this, Sunday was a more predictable if no less busy day.  A Sunday morning service in English is now being held at 7:30am.  Although primarily for the students at the High School – and about 120 of them turn up and play a very full part in the worship – there seems to be an expectation that we will be there as well.  It’s only a short service – about an hour and a half – so we go to the main Sunday service at 10:30 as well.  But David has learnt that he needs to have a second breakfast between the services if he is to last the full duration.

Food for thought

There are no fat children at Fusi Secondary School.