Irenasjourney Blog

June 18, 2010, 10:12 am
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UGH!  This blog is a pain in my butt!

And June, dear sweet present June. June brought my birthday…a rather uneventful one I might add. I spent it at home with a couple of friends. We listened to music and read magazines while I drank hotty-totties alone. I think that’s a sign of getting old but whatever…mind as well do it in Africa if I’m gonna do it, right? Help me. So my birthday also marked the beginning of the World Cup which officially started the 11th but the 10th was an awesome opening concert that I didn’t even get to see on TV. I did however get to go into Maseru and watch the first game in the theater on the big screen. My friends and I were in the VIP showing of the game and received free drinks, chips, cookies and dinner. It was absolutely amazing and one of my best nights here! The World Cup has brought a crazy energy with it. It’s so exciting being so close to something so HUGE! After the first game, my friends and I went to a local hotel and watched the second game. The following day, we found ourselves back at the hotel for the America vs. England game. What a fun time. We went all out and painted our faces and went wild…and in all the hubbub, I got elbowed in the face…it was still fun. I’ll be going to Bloemfontein on the 22nd for the South Africa vs. France game. We didn’t actually get tickets so I think we’ll find ourselves at the Fan Park. Should be a great time never-the-less. And the only thing left to say about June is it’s f’in cold folks. Its f’in cold. It was 19 degrees the other night. The mornings are unbearable and so are the bucket baths. The weather is bringing me down. Its hard to get out of bed and step on the concrete floor. Its hard to walk 20 steps to the latrine in what feels like arctic temperatures. Its hard to take your clothes off just to change…oh summer, how I long for thee…

A picture from today...its cold bo!


June 18, 2010, 10:06 am
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So…this is like my 5th attempt…holy sh**!

May…what happened to May? May flew by. Unfortunately, time is flying by. Any who, I started teaching a Life skills class with Leeza. She’s a volunteer that lives 15 minutes away and has become a fantastic friend. So we’re teaching grades 6 and 7. The kids are amazing! We are mostly talking about HIV and Aids and condoms!! They already know so much of this information which is a really good sign. They are very interesting kids though. Extremely shy. Its actually kind of sad. They never really seem to learn anything. They memorize everything. And they never really have an opportunity to express creativity. Anyway, I love them. Sweet little hearts. Oh man, I was part of Lesotho’s first ever Career Fair. It was awesome. A neighboring volunteer asked a few of us to help here with this project. It was put on by an NGO in Lesotho, GRO. Over 2,000 students showed and there were representatives from over 30 schools of higher education in Lesotho as well representatives from the department of agriculture, the police, banks, military, …you name it. If you grade it on outcome and participation- major success; if you grade on effectiveness- FAIL. Aawwww…for real, it was really too bad but an excellent learning experience. And more recently, towards the end of May, a PCV friend Jessica came over and helped me reorganize one of the weaver’s show room. Man we did an amazing job and had a lot of fun doing it! Check out those before and after, LOL!!


...and after...

...and another after...Yum

June 18, 2010, 9:50 am
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So…I had to do it in 2 parts, LOL.  What a headache…

April, Happy Easter. Oh, Easter was an easy Sunday spent with a friend. That’s all I really have to say about that. I went ahead and half way filled out the grant application and attempted to submit it. Of course, it wasn’t even looked at. I had a PC staff member step in and instruct the weavers on how to go forward. She offered some new ideas and recommended a new grant the weavers may want to apply for…to this day neither group has gone into the office to get the application. Shame. And April ended bitter sweet. We had a going away party for the CHED group that came in 2 years before me. They will all be leaving between May and September except for maybe a couple people extending. The going away party was incredible and PC as usual. Saying bye is difficult in PC because you’re not saying bye for now…chances are I’m never gonna see half the amazing friends I’ve met here. Its weird. But I really do have some amazing memories!!! UGH! I’m really gonna miss these people.

Karolina reading to 2 of my neighbors

Pre-COS party...that's all I can give you. My friends

January, February, and March
June 18, 2010, 8:47 am
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     Its officially been 6 months since I’ve written on the bloggy blog. Shame! As usual, this will be stupid long; Enjoy!!  Lets see, where did I leave off. Durban…haven’t had a vacation since…In January we had All Vol. Its one weekend a year when all the PC Lesotho volunteers come together. We review policies and also enjoy each other. Some of it is fun…we all got to meet the new group of Education volunteers so it was good. My group had our very delayed Phase III training. We got to go as a group to Semonkong which is absolutely beautiful. Cant wait to go there again! We also got to bring our counterparts in and create a business plan together. Two of my three weaving groups were represented and they decided they would like to do a chicken project. Right off the bat I did not see this working too well. I certainly voiced my opinion that we should focus on our weaving business instead of venturing in a new direction- chicken rearing. Anyhow, my reason fell on deaf ears and we forged on with the chicken idea. I really don’t want to bore you with the details and all so long story short there were a few tasks to complete before the grant application was due…mid April…they were never completed. I guess you could say it all worked out in the end.


Karolina and me in Semonkong





Charles and I in front of the waterfall in Semonkong

     February is marked by my friend Kristiney’s birthday. She lives all the way in Mokhotlong. Its one of the farthest places to reach in Lesotho. My friend Melissa and I went to see her and we celebrated at her house and then went to
Sani Pass which the highest place in Lesotho or SA?? Any who, it was absolutely amazing and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the pictures! 

Happy Birthday Kristiney!!!



Women hard at work! We built a Gingerbread house!

Kristiney, Me and Melissa

I'm helping put the tent up

Highest pub in Africa! Yebo!!

Melissa, Kristiney and me above the cloud! Amazing!

Just a cute pic of Andre, Megan and Leeza on the side of the road.

     March… a damn good month! Another PCV and myself went to one of my weavings groups and took pictures of their products for a potential website. A lot has happened since these pictures were taken…another long story short, the pictures were photo shopped last week. OK? What else…I changed my life and got electricity wired into my house. Another PCV helped my hire a young entrepreneur named Theko. He wired electricity from my host family’s home into mine. It cost me about $75. Its been absolutely great having electricity on the one hand, then on the other I’ve found myself at odds with my host family. This really isn’t an appropriate setting for that story so…On St. Patrick’s Day, I met with a few PCVs at a local hotel and we created a new holiday- Shepherd’s Day! Yup…we also invented a new drink-its called the Wild African Kombi Bomb…and its good and gross at the same time.

Theko and Ed wiring in the electric

Shepherd's Day...oops! LOL

January 18, 2010, 7:04 pm
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Durban- holy shit!  Let me just get right into it.  Barb, Kristine Melissa and I went to Durban, South Africa on Dec. 29th.  It took about 5 hours on public transport.  we stayed the first few nights, until the 2nd, at a hostel called Anstey’s.  It’s right across from the ocean and about 30 minutes out of the city.  We camped in a tent.  We went swimming- in the Indian Ocean, holy cow.  it’s a really strong ocean!! And there were a lot of jelly fish and a shark or two spotted.  Anyway, we also went to a crazy huge mall and ate like kings!  We met some great people from South Africa that were staying at the same hostel and on New Years eve we got conned into going to this ‘club’ everyone else from the hostel was going to.  The ‘club’ ended up being the equivalent to an Elk’s Club- a freaking VFW!  There were 70 year olds and 7 year olds- o lord.  And the DJ was 65, lol!!  Anyway, we drank enough to have a good time.  I’m really going to try to make this long strory short…so at about 10 minutes to midnight Melissa and Barb notice this man (from our hostel who just checked in earlier that day)leaving the party…5 seconds later, Kristine notices her camera is missing from the table…great.  So we ring in the new year and at about 1:30am we go back to the hostel.  Most everyone is having a good time.  A bunch of us are hanging out by the pool, swimming, hanging out and we hear some other campers have noticed some of their items missing as well.  While at the pool, Melissa sees the man (the one that left the party) leaving the hostel…walking away.  At about 2:40am Melissa goes to sleep, Kristine and I go hang out with Barb for a bit in her “Honeymoon Suite”.  at about 3:20am we go to sleep but we can still hear people out at the pool having a good time.  Roughly at 4am, the people who’s camp had been robbed decide to go have a look around the hostel, see if they cant find anything.  What do they stumble upon??? A dead body at the bottom of the pool!  Yeah that’s right.  Holy Shit!  It was some guy staying at the hostel with his wife…she went up to bed, he stayed and that’s the whole story.  Nobody knows if he was drunk or who was with his last or nothing.  The police came and got the body and that’s it.  No questions asked.  So New Years day started with and ended on a real somber note.  Some people checked out and others checked in.  I felt real bad for the new comers because they had no idea what just happened…and the whole vibe was off.  And they didn’t drain the pool or anything- just weird.  So like I said, we stayed there until the 2nd and then went on to another hostel called Tekweni and it’s right in the heart of Durban, which I forgot to mention was a HUGE city!!  Like 10 times Charlotte- for real!  We stayed in the dorms here and I in the end I actually preferred Ansteys.  Anyway, while in the heart of Durban we went to an awesome African craft market- o bought lots of stuff, but should have bought more, and we went to Ushaka which is a huge water park and Sea World right off the ocean.  We had such a great time!!

Enjoy the pics and talk to ya’ll soon- I promise

Ansteys Hostel

The scene of the crime- er accident??

The VFW, lol

At the Gateway Mall in Durban

Ushaka- dolphin show

More Ushaka!

Such a good time at the waterpark. Karolina and me 🙂

Club night out in Durban at The Reform

January 18, 2010, 6:47 pm
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December was all over the place.  I took part on an UN Conference on Trade and Development.  I had an excellent x-mas and a crazy new year…and said good bye to some good friends

          I went to this UN Conference on behalf of my weavers.  It lasted 3 days and was really informative.  I met a lot of ‘important’ people and it was a great experience.  On the final day we took a field trip to the Phillips Plant which produces energy saving light bulbs.  It was really cool.  The company’s only been open running for about a year.  It was basically to show us an example of investment in Lesotho.  This country has an incredible opportunity for growth…um, I’ld probably call it a possibility instead of opportunity.

          So some of my really good friends left Lesotho and are back in America.  They are the ex-pat friends I talked about.  Anyway, before they left we went to a Club in Maseru.  Yup, that’s right.  It’s called Club Awesome.  Well, its actually called Litaleng but strongly referred to as Club Awesome- cuz it’s awesome.  I wish I could take pictures to show you but if I brought a camera in there I would not leave with it J.  the place is bonkers.  Anyway, we had a great time and it was really sad to see them go…miss you guys!!!

          In the middle of the month, one of my PCV friends Merrill invited me to her house for her host mother’s graduation party.  It was also a great experience- a real Basotho party!  I have some pics to share.  We ate good, all the people were super friendly, I got excellent pictures of some kids and I met a really inspirational Mosotho man named Peter.  He deserves his own blog entry…

          Christmas was great.  I stayed with some friends (other PCVs) at a friends house in Maseru.  In a proper house with a TV, rooms, a toilet, a shower, washing machine…yeah, it was great.  My friend Karolina cooked an amazing Christmas Eve dinner for us; we had a beet soup, perogies, cookies…lots oh- goodness. It was soo great!  Best of all, on Christmas day I went to the Peace Corps office (which would normally be closed but my friend really needed some from there) and guess what was waiting for me??  Two packages from you guys back home!   Freakin a!  it was a great x-mas.  Thank you so much for those perfectly timed gifts.  I got great stuff too- you guys are too good to me!  Thank you thank you thank you!!

          For Christmas I also got bitten up!  I got like 36 mosquito bites on my legs alone.  For real.  The mosquitoes here are weird, you don’t even feel them biting you.  So that was really the downside of that week…

          The next week, on the 29th several other PCVs and me took a New Years trip to Durban- holy Conoly…this deserves its own blog entry as well…

Phillips Plant

Jamie and me; our last weekend together 😦

OMG- a crazy humingbird puzzle that took weeks to put together- haha

Christmas Eve dinner- YUM

Its been soo long!!
January 18, 2010, 6:40 pm
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I know, I know…I am not doing very good with this whole blog thing- but here are some updates- from November to today- Enjoy!!

        So as promised, I ventured out of Lesotho for the first time on November 8th!  My friends took me to an amazing park in South Africa called Golden Gate.  I’ve attached some pictures for you all to see.  Also in the time since my last update I spent some time with my weavers (pictures again, attached) and I spent some serious time in my garden; its looking pretty good.  I went to a Cherry Festival in South Africa and also went to an amazing restaurant called Living Life (also in SA) for Thanksgiving.

            So Golden Gate; absolutely amazing!!  I went with my ex-pat friends (I think I’ve mentioned them before) and we did an amazing hike and saw baboons and something that resembles a fox…and of course some fantastic scenery.  The hike was about an hour long and at one point we were literally mountain climbing.  South Africa is a beautiful country and a stark contrast from Lesotho.  Not that Lesotho is not beautiful, it is, but SA is soo different.  There is so much greenery and a lot more for tourists.

            My garden is looking good ya’ll!  I really will have to take some pics so you guys believe me.  I’ve de-weeded the entire thing and my lettuce and tomatoes are growing like crazy.  Ima be eating good here J and I’ve decided to give the watermelons another go…wish me luck, again

            A couple of weeks ago my weavers had a workshop where they learned about felting.  I actually got in the fun and made a bowl/ pot out of felt.  Basically you take raw mohair and get it wet and soapy and work with it until it turns into felt.  Then you shape it and let it dry…it’s a forever long process but it was great fun and.  I am still looking forward to the product development that begins the 29th, so just in a couple of days, and I’ll definitely let you all know how that works out.

            Cherry Fest was awesome!  It was on November 21st in a border town called Ficksburg.  Its only about 30 minutes from where I live.  We weren’t able to stay very long but I did get  my first dose of Afrikaaners.  Wow, very different and very interesting people/ culture.  Ficksburg itself was really nice and the festival was fun.  They had great food, rides, camels, and of course delicious cherries on which I damn near overdosed.  Haha, no but I did eat a lot of them J.  I didn’t get too many pictures here, but you can see the relationship I built with the camels.

            Thanksgiving= fantastic.  I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving as well.  The restaurant we went to was in Ladybrand which is another border town, this time right outside Lesotho’s capital Maseru.  Living Life is like a hidden gem.  It seems to be in the middle of nowhere…all of a sudden you are at this place with so many flowers and trees and customer service and great food; couldn’t have asked for a better time.  The food and company were great.

            Lastly, I will leave you all with some random pics… a couple of my local girlfriends J and some pics just to show you I am enjoying myself. Love you guys, take care and ttys

Hike at Golden Gate in South Africa with great friends

Haha...still Golden Gate

OK...we climbed up that...see the trail below?? Holy scary

Yup, we climbed to the top of that cliff- so beautiful!

This marks the end of our hike 🙂

OOH- an ape!!

OOH, more apes!

Kids in the peach tree in my front yard

Me and the camels at Cherry Fest

Some weavers felting

A young one learning to felt!!!