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May. 4, 1979
She is a teacher in Lebopo and stops by every time she comes into camp. She told me today that my former roommate, Mesinktla, had a baby Monday night. I must admit that I couldn't tell whether Mesinktla was pregnant or just grossly fat. The Basotho women who are chunky tend to have no waistline so I can't tell when they are pregnant. Anyway, the village women delivered the baby girl. I'm glad I wasn't living out there..,they think whites know how to do things like that and would have stepped back and let me deliver it. Mesinktla, who is 20, is going to take the baby home to her family and come back to work in July. She works with me at the Ministry.
I have a new roommate. Jerry is a 21-year-old who was in my training group. She is half-Japanese and lived in Japan and Hawaii-speaks Japanese fluently. She and I got along well in training so I don't anticipate any problems. She moved in last Wednesday and will be setting up a Self-Reliance program..a terrible job. She has to start from scratch and set up a project in the villages.
We have had a party here since Jerry moved in but we keep telling her that it won't last. It all started last Thursday when I found a dressed chicken (not often found here since there is no refrigeration) and invited everyone over for dinner. Actually I bought three chickens because seven showed up for dinner. Then on Saturday, the local doctor took us all to Sani-top, the high mountain pass that leads into the Republic. We spent the day gathering dried wild flowers, picnicking at the ski chalet and peering over the escarpment which drops straight down 2,000 feet in spots. All of our food here in Mokhotlong comes up through that pass and I don't see how those big trucks can maneuver that road, The doctor had trouble making the turns in a Land Rover (jeep). I shot up a whole roll of film and must have taken a dozen shots of that road, Also took some telephoto shots of the earless rock rabbit (they looked like groundhogs to me but they are supposed to be rabbits). Some baboons (sp?) are living near by but we didn't see them. It was a beautiful, clear warm day and we didn't get home until after dark.
On Sunday, Fred, another PCV [Peace Corps Volunteer], invited all of us to his place for a pancake breakfast. He used orange drink as half the liquid in the batter and added nutmeg. Try it. The pancakes were light and so good!! Then in the afternoon, we all went to the doctor's house for his farewell party. He is going to England to study and the hospital staff threw a farewell party for him. The doctor, who is Philippino, roasted a pig in the traditional Philippine manner... on a stick over an open fire. We all took turns turning the pig. It was stuffed with apples and green and white onions. The local priest donated the pig for the party, The hospital staff provided all the food and the best joala (local home brew) that I've tasted since I've been in country. It is made from fermented sorghum. At one point, the doctor looked around and commented to me that the whole staff was at the party and no one was on duty at the hospital.
On Monday we saw the doctor and his family off at the airport and drowned our sorrow with a dinner at the Hi-Ho Cafe. We had beef,: gravy, rice, fried potatoes, carrots, peas, potato-carrot soup, salad, bread (homemade), jello, pudding and cookies for R1.20 (about $1.50). It was so good that we made reservations for next Sunday.
The King's Birthday was on Wednesday. It's a national holiday so we went to the celebration at the Airport. It broke up about noon because they had to clear the field so that the plane could come in.
When I wasn't partying, I was helping the ministry get ready for the Agric Show on May 18-19. I made 20 posters to put up in markets and typed up the stencils for the programs. I had been typing programs as they asked for them, 10 at time using carbon paper. Finally I asked if there was a duplicating machine. Sure enough, there was but no stencils. So I borrowed stencils from the Ministry of Ed and, hopefully, I don't have to type any more programs (in Sesotho). I borrowed a pick ax from the ministry so that I could begin digging my garden this weekend but it looks as if my weekend will be busy. Anyway, there doesn't seem to be a handle in Mokhotlong. Everyone suggests that I improvise (the way the Basotho do) but I don't want the head of a pick ax flying off into space. As hard as this ground is, it will take me all winter to dig the garden.
Haven't I told you about my horse trade and that I traded the Peace Corps' young stallion for an older horse named "Rocket." I told the family keeping the stallion for the Peace Corps that I wanted it three weeks ago but the horse never arrived in camp. So last Monday, I walked out to the village (6.5 kilometers) to find out where the horse was. The woman who was keeping it wouldn't give it to me. She said I had to produce a letter from the Peace Corps and the bill of sale before I could have the horse. So on Tuesday, I hiked back out with the two pieces of paper. Then she said that I would have to show them to the chief and that he wasn't in the village that day. So Wednesday, I went out early and got her out of bed.
When we found the chief at 9:30 a.m., he was so drunk that he just laid his head down on the table and laughed. Finally we wound up in front of the judge of the village court (the only one who spoke English) and he let me have the horse. Then I admitted that I didn't want to ride that stallion into camp and said I would give a rand to someone who would bring it into camp and stay with it until I turned it over to the new owner. We had drawn quite a crowd by that time and everyone roared with laughter. The Basotho can ride bareback when they are six but I wanted no part of that young horse. So the woman agreed to bring the horse in. A couple of days later some man yelled something about the "pera" (horse) across the airport. I suppose it is all over camp that I refused to ride "that nice little pony." I was so glad when that project was over. Now I have to get my new (Old) horse shed and learn to ride it. I am going to ask one of the men at the ministry to teach me.
Would you look through my checks and see if there is a cancelled one from ) Mother Earth News" and if there if an address on the back. I wrote a check for the magazine on Jan, 20 and haven't received it yet. I saw a copy on the newsstand in that grocery store (out in the country) where you shop. If you happen to see a copy, would you copy down the address and send it to me so I can write to them. The magazine is published in North Carolina. Some magazines are banned In the Republic [of South Africa] for strange reasons but I wouldn't think that would be one of them (unless there was a black on the cover!). In the latest issue of "Farmer's Weekly", there is a man with a rifle on the front cover and inside is an article on how the farmer can defend himself against, the "black rebels." It was a very popular souvenir issue for Peace Corps volunteers.,.it was sold out in Maseru before I could get a copy.
I sent in my tax returns (or did I tell you). Got $508 from federal and $287 for state. Will send the duplicates when I get an envelope large enough.
I had a letter from Pat saying that he had been laid off but he didn't seem too disturbed about it. He has his application in several places, he said. Haven't heard from Mike for a couple of weeks but he is always up. He is in school in Essen and has four hours of horn, lessons daily.
Better sign this off so I can get it in the mail tomorrow. I sent the
article about the 68-year-old PCV to our 64-year-old PCV, I had a second
letter from B. Page. Will drop her a note one of these days. In the meantime,
tell her I really appreciate the mail.
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