Sunday, September 06, 2015

Kathy's Lesotho Reflections

Hiking Lesotho's mountains.
As my last two blogs have highlighted, my amazing sister visited Southern Africa for most of August. It was wonderful sharing my life and work with her. I asked her to write as a guest blogger about her experiences in Lesotho. As she told me, "This trip has engraved itself my heart and it seems to funny to me that outwardly I'm the same when I feel so different inside." 

Here is the experience, in her own words:

In August, Beth and I went on one of our Amazing Adventures.  We started in Kruger National Park with Tracy, hunting for glimpses of elusive animals, celebrating 2 birthdays, freezing our fingers on game drives, and laughing all over the park.  There we checked the Big Five off our lists as well as many different bird species.

After parting ways with Tracy, Beth and I were off to Cape Town to be penultimate tourists.  We checked off Table Mountain, the Castle of Good Hope, The Best Nachos Ever, and local draft beer (Beth even got to have a porter!)  Robben Island was a highlight (see Beth's previous post) although also a difficult stop.  After 4 nights in luxury (gotta love rewards points!), we wine tasted in Stellenbosch and continued on to Lesotho.

From the second we reached the border, I knew that this Adventure was different.  This Adventure involved litter all over the ground.  This Adventure had us checking out of South Africa and walking over No Man's Land before checking into Lesotho.  This Adventure had the custom's agent welcoming us to the country with a big smile on her face and telling us that we were beautiful.  This Adventure had me blindly following my sister deeper into the city and through a few alleys to avoid the taxi drivers and pick up a Venture taxi instead.  This Adventure had me cuddled with the trunk door of an SUV sitting on a jump seat with my luggage piled on my lap next to a man who cracked open a beer while trying to change his SIM card.  This Adventure had me overwhelmed.  For the first time in all of my travels throughout Europe and North America, I was in a place were most people didn't speak English (or French!) and I couldn't even guess what they were saying.

And so my Adventure was living Beth's life for a week.  We went
Kathy doing laundry.
on errands around the village and the camp town, hand washed our clothes in the spring before carrying them back up the hill, taught life skills to Standard 4-7, weighed babies at a monthly clinic, and talked to a teacher about the upcoming GLOW camp that Beth is running.  All of these activities were surrounded by much needed Sister Time.  And in the background was always someone checking in, wanting to make sure Beth was okay since they haven't seen her in a while.  

With one of the four classes Beth teaches weekly.
And that is what made this Adventure so different - people.  People who yes, couldn't understand me just like I couldn't understand them.  But this Adventure had people who welcomed me in and accepted me just for coming to visit their country (it helped that I'm Thato's sister!).  They spoke to me in the language of love and smiles. They payed me compliments through Beth - usually expressing surprise that we look so much alike and then saying how beautiful we are.  This Adventure had brothers who teased me, played football with me, let me join movie night, and called me "a-ussi Kavy" (Sister Kathy).  This Adventure had Me' Masekila who made me Ma-toe-hoe and then tried to explain to me what it was in Sesotho before just saying "porridge" in English (I must have looked awfully confused!).  This Adventure had a community of people who welcomed me to their home and shared as much about it as they could in ten short days.  This Adventure had the Chief saying, "Welcome home" when he met me and even though it was only day 3, I felt it.  
Sharing Kathy's favorite American
foods with the host family.

So while the first day or so was tough and there really is a ton of litter on the ground, by the end of the trip, I didn't notice it.  Instead I saw the people - welcoming, kind, and amazing.  


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You should choose as your life's work whatever feels the most like play.
-Harvey Oxenhorn