The Slow Life

Though a lot of our writing here has to do with hardships, with pain, and with frustration, I think it is important to balance that with a sense of daily life in Lesotho. Days are spent in outreach, driving over humorously bad roads and seeing very unfunny sights. But these are matched by days when we sit in the office, entering receipts, writing grants, brainstorming, killing flies. These days, trust me, are much less interesting to write about.

Our life outside of work (and I say “outside” very loosely, as we live a five second walk from the safehome and the lines between work and play are very blurred), though also fairly uneventful, might be interesting at least in comparison to an average day in the US.

So here they are, some of the heretofore unpenned details of life in Mokhotlong:

6:00 am—Wake up. Fully intend to get up and exercise. Especially since we have already had a full 8 hours of sleep.

6:10 am—Fall back asleep

7:00 am—Wake up for real. Guess we needed 9 hours. Currently residing in one of the empty rooms in the row house because our rondavel is having a worm infestation. Dash into said rondavel to retrieve some clothing. Spend at least 5 minutes inspecting the walls and floor for evidence of more worms. Find evidence. Get grossed out.

7:30 am—Stumble into the kitchen to make coffee. Cut off a few slices of homemade bread, toast these in the oven and spread with jam bought in South Africa and carefully rationed to avoid the strange canned jam found in Mokhotlong.

7:59 am—Leave for work.

8:00 am—Arrive at work. Love the commute.

8-8:30 am—Check e-mail. Normal enough, except must be done on a dial-up connection. Remember those? Yeah, takes you straight back to 1998. In a bad way.

8:30-1:00 pm—General office work, not really worth writing about.

1:00 pm—Lunch time. Go up to the kitchen and scoop out some leftover beans and slow-roasted tomatoes from the night before. Delicious. Analyze the sky to assess the likelihood of imminent downpour, decide getting off the compound is worth the risk.

1:20 pm—Walk to the “fruit and veg.” About a fifteen minute walk from TTL, a warehouse that receives a shipment every Wednesday of fruits and vegetables that are otherwise unseen in Mokhotlong. Interestingly, half the warehouse contains boxes of fruits and vegetables, and the other half – blankets. We usually stick to the produce side.

Every week is an adventure entailing many plans of what to cook that night based on the last week’s haul, which are then dashed when we actually get there and realize there are entirely different options available. We went with an open mind this time, and emerged triumphant with cauliflower, squash, pears, avocados and cucumbers. Very exciting.

2:00-5:00 pm—Back to work. A few outreach clients come in to receive money for transport. One woman comes in to ask us for supplies like soap and Vaseline, because her niece came for a doctor’s visit the day before and was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital. Children are not allowed to stay at the hospital alone, so when a child is admitted it causes a general upheaval. Worse, since this was unexpected, neither the child nor the aunt brought clothes, cleaning supplies, etc. Still, I am thankful that the child was admitted—she was referred to TTL earlier in the week because, though she is thirteen and therefore outside of our normal mission, she looks about 8 years old, and terribly wasted. The aunt thankfully takes the supplies and returns to the hospital through the now pouring rain.

5:01 pm—End of the work day. Dash up to the kitchen through the downpour with schemes to make jam with the lucky pear find. Let me tell you—all those things that you have always wanted to do but have never had time for? You have time in Lesotho. I spend an hour or so slicing, macerating, and boiling the pears with some cardamom left by Dan. Reid and I then sit down to read for a while in the kitchen.

6:00 pm—Decide to make a simple dinner—tuna melts with a tomato, onion, and avocado salad. Of course, this “simple” dinner includes making our own mayonnaise, salad dressing, and using up the remains of the bread I baked the night before. So simple is a relative term here.

6:35 pm—Dinner is served.

7:00 pm—Mix up the dough for more bread to be eaten with the jam tomorrow morning.

7:15 pm—Go back to reading.

8:00 pm—Jam finished boiling. Attempt to can it. Hopefully avoid botulism.

8:30 pm—Get ready for bed.

8:35 pm—In bed (yep, seriously). Read for a while longer.

9:30 pm—Sleep.

(Note: Our lives are not always QUITE this slow, even here. But with Ellen, Will, and Nthabeleng gone for the week, things are exceptionally low key. Though quite lovely).


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