We have now been in consolidation for almost twenty days. To put this in perspective, I lived and worked at my site for twenty days before the coup and consolidation. When we went through immigration at the South African border, we received 30 day visas with the expectation that we would not be approaching October while still "vacationing" and waiting.
And yet, here we are. Each day brings a mixed
bag of promising news and security setbacks. SADC (South Africa
Development Community) has had multiple meetings about Lesotho this week
and has agreed to send in peace keepers from multiple southern Africa
nations to help maintain security. South Africa Deputy President
Ramaphosa is mediating between the political parties to help get
parliament reopened and possibly to push up the elections currently
planned for 2017. At the same time, security has not improved enough for
family members of US Embassy employees or Peace Corps volunteers to
return to Lesotho.
So, we wait and we find ways to
fill the time. We are developing great relationships with the resort
staff, who hosted a fun competition day for us on Sunday and kicked our
butts in a staff/PCV soccer game this week. We have also been able to
get out of the hotel a bit. On Tuesday, Peace Corps rented a bus so that
we could all visit nearby Bloemfontein. This provided a great chance to
resupply as most of us had packed only enough for a few days.
Some friends and I avoided a full day of shopping by catching a taxi to Cheetah Experience.
Cheetah Experience is a non-profit cheetah breeding and education
program. Cheetahs are incredibly endangered with more living in
captivity than in the wild. Cheetah Experience is one of a number of
cheetah breeding programs working to ensure that diversity of cheetah
DNA is maintained in hopes of helping to protect this incredible
After our tour was completed-including
critical cat petting and photo ops but not including my simultaneous
allergy attack-my friends and I hung around for a bit. We continued
chatting with our guide about our consolidation boredom. She asked if we
were interested in volunteering with Cheetah Experience while we are
here so I shared my contact info.
Within a few hours, I
had an email from the project inviting us to volunteer. That night I
spoke with Wendy, our country director, about the opportunity. Two days
later, twenty-one of us were boarding the Peace Corps bus for a day of
manual labor at Cheetah Experience. While doing something productive was
award enough, the staff and live-in volunteers also treated us to
"Cheetah Soccer", letting us play with the cheetahs at the end of the
day. I managed to pet cheetahs and protect myself from my usual cat
allergy problems-which was better than I can say for one of my friends!
another group of twenty headed out for more Cheetah Experience. While
it may not be what we all came to Africa to do, it is wonderful to be
doing something more than enjoying our resort and relaxing to the point