27 April, 2010

A Wedding Invitation and a Little Name Dropping

David writes:

Elizabeth has written before about how life here reminds one of childhood. Things happen; and everyone else knows what and why things are happening but we don’t quite understand it all. It’s sometimes the different culture but more usually, now, the lack of language skills.

On Saturday we attended a wedding. It’s the third we’ve been to here – but the first where we’ve had a proper written invitation. We were invited by the bride’s mother but, to be absolutely honest, we weren’t quite sure which one she was out of a group of ladies until we arrived at the church. We certainly didn’t know anything about the bride and groom.

The service started quite promptly: the invitation said ten o’clock and the service started soon after eleven. In his address, the priest referred to the Marriage Preparation Manual that he had used with the couple – which keen blog followers will know I wrote; fortunately I wasn’t named as the author.  When the priest mentioned that emphasis had been given to the 2006 Act of Parliament that gave wives equality with their husbands – (up until then, women were legally minors under the guardianship of their husbands) – there was a murmur of approval from the women in the congregation and a sea of hats nodding up and down. The bridegroom, later in his speech, actually said how useful he and the bride had found the marriage preparation.

It was a fairly short service: even with communion, we were out after a couple of hours. The first thing we noticed was the cars: I don’t think we’ve ever seen so many cars at church, and certainly not of that quality. There was one with a distinctive number plate and when we made enquiries we were told, “oh, that’s probably the car of the Prime Minister’s wife, she was there and so were wives of some of the other ministers.”

The reception was in marquees at the house of the bride’s family. Seating, as usual, was catch-as-catch-can. The “top table” is just four people: bride and groom with best man and chief bridesmaid. Even the couple’s parents don’t get reserved seating and I’m not sure that the bride’s mother ever got to sit down properly. We ended up on a table where I eventually discovered that the groom’s uncle is the leader of the main opposition party here and I was chatting to his wife, whose daughter was one of the young bridesmaids. Another reminder that Lesotho is a small country.

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Following tradition, the wedding party moved on to the groom’s church and village (outside Maseru) on the next day. We didn’t go – so we missed joining the Prime Minister and the King, who both turned up to join the celebration.

17 April, 2010

Jenny’s Visit

Elizabeth writes:

It is always wonderful to have visitors, and Jenny was the only one of our immediate family who had not managed to check out that we were OK and behaving ourselves.  She put that right this Easter although sadly was only able to stay for ten days.  We had a wonderful time and managed to squeeze in some exciting travelling into the Highlands which even we had not yet managed to visit.

But first things first:
Jenny arrived late on Holy Saturday so was just in time to join the congregation on Easter morning for the four hour service.  Why make it short when you are enjoying yourselves?  A family in Maseru had kindly invited us for lunch, and we were also entertained to a family feast on Easter Monday.  Tuesday saw us heading to the hills in the diocesan van which we have borrowed before – it is very old and slow, but sturdy and never gives up – ideal for Lesotho roads.
We drove all day to the lodge where we were staying for the night, and were met by our driver with his 4×4, our essential transport for the next few days.  The next day we drove along an appalling road to a remote National Park, Sechlabetebe.  Here we traversed the park on horseback to the South African border.  The park was beautiful – rugged, stark and deserted.  Now, I have arrived at international borders by plane, boat, train, car and on foot, but on horseback was a first.
Here is Jenny with the upper reaches of the Orange River in the background, and with her mount in the Park:

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Our driver went the long way round and picked us up at the gate taking us then to Sani Lodge at the foot of the famous (infamous) Sani Pass.  We passed the waterfall known as the Fountain of Eternal Youth where we dutifully refilled our water bottles. (Anyone want some brought home?), then crawled up the Pass which is only open to 4x4s.  It is a long, steep, winding climb but the views are magnificent and there is a proper pub at the top!

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Back home, there was only one thing left on her itinerary – a visit to Fusi School of course.  She  joined in some of my lessons and made immediate friends with some of the students.

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David took her to the airport on Wednesday and saw her safely off.  We weren’t to know that a volcano in Iceland would seriously disrupt her journey in Paris, but she is safely back home now and we look forward to visiting her in July.

4 April, 2010

Easter

A Happy Easter to all our friends.

Our daughter Jenny has arrived to stay with us for a short while which is lovely.
We are looking forward to having a nice holiday with her.  Reports will no doubt follow!

3 April, 2010

End of Term

Elizabeth writes:

Phew!  I made it to the end of term (or quarter to be precise).
The school year here is in two halves with six week breaks for summer (December/January) and winter (June/July).  Each half is divided into two quarters with a short breaks for Easter and another in October.  The result is that we have been teaching non-stop from 18th January until 31st March.  No wonder I feel tired.

The end of the quarter was particularly enjoyable as Andy Uglow, who started the whole Fusi project, and his wife Arani visited the school.  He was clearly delighted to see so many students and the progress that is being made towards a self-functioning institution.

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Wednesday was the last day;  two forms had end-of-term tests in Agriculture.  Form B were given some jobs to do.  As well as cleaning and tidying the buildings, they set to work to weed the grounds, collect and burn the rubbish, and best of all prepare the new gatepost to hang the gates which I have acquired from the church.  Here are some of the boys ready to pour in the cement after digging the hole with pick and spades.  What would H&S think?  I love it!

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