Ha Sefako, Butha Buthe, Lesotho
I graduated from Penn State and currently live in Lesotho, Southern Africa as I serve in the Peace Corps!

My Lesotho Videos

Monday, June 14, 2010

Video of my house!

click on the link to see a video of my house in Lesotho!


Thursday, May 27, 2010

HIV workshop and a day in ha sefako!

I had my “HIV Education through Literacy” workshop a few weeks ago! I’ve been pretty bad about keeping up with my blog, so I’ll try to recap the past few weeks!

The workshop went so well! Peace Corps staff and volunteers partnered up with the ministry to facilitate a workshop to train teachers to use roughly 70 children’s books that have an HIV, sexual health, self-esteem, decision-making, and gender equality focus. All 36 teachers from each of the 12 schools showed up, which is a huge deal for a workshop. The workshop ran from Thursday evening until Sunday morning with very few extra breaks, which is very different from typical workshops. We taught teachers how to read the books aloud to their students, teach reading comprehension, write a letter to a character in the books, role-play and debate using the books, how to connect many of the books to curriculum in each subject, and games and activities that students and teachers can use with the books. Because they were receiving a ton of books, we also taught them how to use and care for the books. And because the whole workshop was dedicated to teaching HIV and all other things surrounding life skills (simply skills needed to get through life – decision making, goal setting, sexual health…), we talked a lot about HIV. We had peer HIV education through a game of Jeopardy where teachers chose a dollar (or rand) amount from a category and answered a question as a group. If they did not know the answer then as a whole group we discussed the answer. It was a great way to teach about HIV without lecturing. We also had youth facilitators and Kick-4-Life, who I have used before at workshops. They teach about HIV through games that teachers can use in their schools.

Each teacher walked away with ideas for their regular classrooms, lesson plans that they created, educational games, and great new resources. I walked away feeling such a sense of accomplishment and relief after planning and thinking about this workshop since December. The workshop went better than I could have possibly imagined thanks to the help of Peace Corps staff, other volunteers, the Ministry of Education, and our many facilitators and other organizations that helped us to plan and carry out the workshop.

Now I am in the process of collecting and combining all of my scattered ideas and notes to create a manual so we can duplicate this workshop again. We made sure that after each session and day we sat down to evaluate the effectiveness of the sessions. There are a ton of changes that we are going to make to according to feedback we received and changes we made as we went.

I talked to a few of my friends this weekend that had friends and family come and visit decided I should tell you about a typical day for me in my village. This was more or less my day yesterday…

I began hitting snooze around 6:00 and eventually rolled out of bed at 6:30 to make sure I was dressed before one of the kids came over a little before 7. I lit some candles because the sun doesn’t peek over the mountains until 7:20. I planned ahead this week so I ate some yogurt and granola for breakfast while I changed and put on shoes. Right on time, Mpho, a 6th grade student came over to walk to school with him. He sat down and continued a puzzle that we have been working on for a few days while I brushed my teeth and got my things together. At 7:00 we left my house and walked for about 1 minute to the dirt road to wait for the taxi. It is winter now so we were bundled up, but it gets warm during the day so we are a little colder than we should be waiting for the bus. The bus finally arrives at 7:35 and we notice that there are 19 people in a 15-passenger bus, but the conductor tells us to get in quickly! I half sit next to a woman going to town and Mpho stands squeezed between the door and people sitting. These busses comfortably fit 3 people in each of the 3 rows and do not allow for standing room…still we fit 4 in each and have people standing.

We arrive at our stop, which is a shop/bar at 7:50 and begin our hour-long walk up and around a mountain. Although the sun rose where I live, there is a bigger mountain blocking it out where we are now walking. School starts at 8:30, so we are walking quickly and I quickly start sweating. It is way to early for this! Because we are walking so fast, we arrive at school only 8 minutes late! We arrive just in time for the morning prayer and then it’s off to class. I begin my day in standard (grade) 1 & 2, which has a total of 100 students in one classroom. The teacher wasn’t there yesterday so I asked another teacher to help me read a book to the class (his students were taking an exam!). I found a version of The Little Red Hen and began reading. I spoke painfully slow and had him translate for me. I asked the students what they thought the book would be about and got nothing back. I spoke slower and used some Sesotho. They all agreed that it was about a bird. I took it! I told them to pay attention to the pictures and to try and pick up some of the words I was saying. We pointed out the animals in the book and said their English and Sesotho names. The book was repetitive so they started saying the words with me. “Not I!” All of the kids in Lesotho are familiar with the process of picking wheat, taking it to the mill, eating it…so these kids knew exactly what was going on even know they only understood a few of the words I was saying. As I read I noticed the students slowly leaving their seats and crowding around me. By the end of the story kids were standing on the table in front of me and all around me to get a better look at the pictures. It was great!

After that I went with a teacher to class 7 to help teach about different types of bleeding in health. We had talked about teaching this lesson last week, but ran out of time. I am going to spend a few weeks working with him to teach CPR and a few other things that are in the health unit. For this class I had to speak slowly, but didn’t need to speak Sesotho. The understood most of what I was talking about! We went through the three types of bleeding and I showed them the veins in my arm to help them understand. When it came time for capillary bleeding, I had each student pair up and look at each other’s eyes. They could see the small veins that run through our bodies. They also looked at the bottom of each other’s tongues. I got a lot of laughs when I showed them the bottom of mine and then they quickly turned to see their friends! Through the whole lesson the teacher helped me clarify things and also wanted to see/show the veins in the eye and tongue.

The last lesson I taught before lunch was about puberty. This was an interesting one. We talked about the changes in boys and girls and why this happens. I explained as best as I could the menstrual cycle. This class was combined 5 & 6, so some students were pretty young and some were much older. This made for a slightly awkward conversation. We (3 other teachers and me) ended the lesson by talking about choices and what if’s. We talked a lot to the girls about saying no and how to say it. A lot of men truly believe in the “use it or lose it” idea and we talked a lot about that as well. The kids were given an opportunity to ask questions and I turned a lot over to the teachers helping with the lesson to make sure I didn’t say too much, which I’m pretty sure I couldn’t. This lesson was really important because just like in the US, it is difficult for kids to ask certain questions and it is uncomfortable for adults to talk to kids about certain topics. Team teaching this lesson really helped the teachers to feel more comfortable.

I tend to take over whole chunks of the day when I really get into teaching. The puberty lesson ran 15 minutes into lunch and right through another teacher’s time. I like that a few teachers might sit in on the lesson to either learn something or to help out.

After lunch the students practiced for an upcoming soccer game so I decided to leave a little early. I walked back to the dirt road, which really took an hour this time and waited for a taxi (mini-bus). I arrived at 1:30 and sat down under a tree and started to read the book I brought with me. Around 2:15 a bus came by and I stood up expecting it to stop. It was full and went right by me. I waited another 15 minutes and decided to walk. The walk takes about 45 minutes and I have to cross a small stream. I almost always get my feet wet doing this, but didn’t slip this time! I stopped and talked to some friend and neighbors on the way home and arrived around 4. Knowing the sun was going to set around 5-5:30 I went to get water. I dumped the remaining water from my 2 buckets into my filter and set off. My old tap, which was a downhill walk back to my house, broke so I had to go to the other one. I would guess that it is about the length of a football field from my house to the tap…maybe a little longer. When I got to the tap I noticed that there was a rock on top of it because it was broken. I moved the rock and water immediately started gushing out. It took about 5 minutes to fill my bucket and another 5 to perfectly balance the rock on top of the tap again. Then I walked back taking only 3 rests, which is pretty good for me.

When I got back 2 boys from the high school were waiting for me. I put down the water, caught my breath and started talking to them. They needed help with their homework. I held my breath hoping that I could help them and they told me it was warm and cold-water currents. I told them that I needed a minute to review and then explained it to them. They stayed for a few minutes and then left.

I like to cook when the sun is still out so I can really see what’s going on. I had some veggies from town that were starting to go bad so I made pasta sauce with carrots, onion, and tomato. It should last about 3 days, which is great! I spent the rest of the night reading and cleaning up from dinner. I try my hardest to say up until 8 and then pass out for the night.

Only 3 more weeks of school until winter break! Hope everyone is doing well!! I’ll be back to town again in a few weeks.

workshop pictures. copy and paste the whole link!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010


The library books are here!!! Almost all of the boxes of books have made it to my schools!!! I found three boxes that were hiding under a table and sent them up today. The schools, teachers, students, and families are all so excited! I spent the week at schools helping to sort, organize, and shelve books. The teachers and students did all of the work deciding how they wanted to organize the books and how they wanted them to look on the shelves. I only gave a few suggestions along the way. At one of the schools, I discovered an extra storage room that was turned into a library in two hours! It was pretty exciting!!

When I arrived at the first school this week I was so excited to learn that they had already put the books on the shelves and put a padlock on the doors to keep the books safe. The teachers were excited to show me the books, but couldn’t find the key. We spent some time looking for the key ourselves and came up with nothing. Then I remembered that we had a great search party – the first graders! We brought them out, gave them instructions, and sent them to find the missing keys, which we suspected were in the grass somewhere. Before the key was found, one of the teachers went home and got the spare set of keys. It was a pretty amusing way to start the day.

After we opened the cupboards we decided we needed to organize the books. That is when I found the new library! It is a pretty small room, but we used some extra benches and tables and turned it into a beautiful library. That part of the school has the teachers resources and books for older students. Two classrooms have books that are appropriate, or close to, for the ages of the students in that classroom.

Since my visit, that school has been working hard to teach the students how to use the library properly!

I think I mentioned before that a few kids come to my house to borrow books. I love when they come over! They sit for as long as an hour just to explore the books and find ones they like. I let them borrow two at a time and tell them they can come back any time to trade them in for new ones. A few days ago four boys came together to look at books. As they were packing up the books and putting them under my table for me I remembered that I had another mouse in my house! The little mouse ate my butter and through a few bags of food I had out. My grandma sent me a mousetrap, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. So as the boys were leaving I told them about the mouse and showed them the hole it made in my floor to get in. Imagine that, a little mouse eating through the floor!! They all just looked at me like they had no clue what I was talking about and then left. About 3 hours later they came back holding things in their hands. As I looked closer, I realized that they brought mousetraps! They set them up in a few places in my house and then left again. They returned early the next day, eager to see what they caught. Sure enough, when they checked the trap there was a little mouse stuck right in it! They could tell how happy I was and decided to stay a while to look at more books!

I pasted a link to my facebook pictures. The last handful of pictures are of a teacher using a Thomas the Tank Engine book to teach her kids the ABC’s, a 6th grade teacher using a dinosaur book to teach about carnivores and herbivores, and a group of 7th grade kids huddled around an Eye Spy book!

During lunch at one of the schools I couldn’t figure out where all of the kids were. They are usually outside playing games or running around. When I looked in a few of the classrooms, I found a ton of kids sitting at their desks with friends looking through books!! And it isn’t just the kids, the teachers are just as excited!! They love looking at the books with pictures of animals. I love seeing a teacher just as excited to look through the books as students. The teacher who read the book about dinosaurs would stop and reread a sentence or look at the kids with a surprised face as he learned with them.

I hope all is well at home! It is starting to get pretty cold here as it warms up in Pittsburgh. My hut was 54 degrees the other night!

Facebook pictures:

(I don't know how to make this work. Copy and paste both lines together to get to the pictures)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It is fall in Lesotho!

Anywhere in the world we have good days and bad days. Today is another good day following a few weeks of things going really, really well! Right now I am listing to local music I got from a friend while pretending I know the words and trying to organize myself for the next few weeks. Here’s what has been going on the past few weeks!

I have written a little about a project I have been working on, but because it has changed so, so, so much since December, I have kept pretty quiet about it. Now, however, I feel like I am at a place with it that I can write about it! I am working with Peace Corps staff, the Ministry of Education and Training, and about 6 other organizations in Lesotho to plan and facilitate a workshop to train teachers in 12 primary schools how to teach about HIV/AIDS through literacy. People from these other organizations work in Lesotho to teach students skills necessary to succeed in life, as librarians and teachers, as publishers and authors, and as teacher trainers. I, along with a team of these professionals, have selected between 50-70 children’s books that all have messages and stories about HIV, sexual health, self-esteem, living healthy, gender equity, sexual abuse, and everything a child or young adult might need to know about HIV. They are amazing books meant to be either read by children or to children with the help of a teacher. The books were reviewed by a team of people from groups I mentioned to make sure they were appropriate for primary aged students and would be helpful in the schools. They are meant to supplement curriculum that is currently being created by a few educational organizations in Lesotho. The books have been ordered and some of them have finally arrived in Lesotho!!

After we reviewed and ordered the books we met as a group of 13 to create a workshop for the teachers. We spent an entire day planning for the workshop. We made sure to spend a lot of time discussing what the Basotho professionals have found work well and things to avoid based on their experiences working with similar projects in Lesotho. We also looked at what has already been done in Lesotho to borrow ideas and strategies from those projects. Once we were all on the same page with the project and where we wanted it to go, we brainstormed ideas about what we felt teachers needed to know to effectively use the books in their schools. We came up with ideas like how to read to students, how to read for context, how to care for and organize books, games and activities to do with books, how to teach about sensitive subjects, how to tie the books into the curriculum, how to write lesson plans using the books, and what exactly is HIV/AIDS?? From there we took those ideas and about 20 more and combined them into 6 categories to create sessions ranging from 60 minutes to 3 hours to share the information with the teachers. We have a few organizations coming in to teach about HIV and to teach fun games that teach about HIV.
We created a workshop that will begin in the evening May 6 and will finish May 9. I am really looking forward to spending the weekend with these teachers and helping them to make their own connections to these books. I’ll be sure to keep you updated!!

If we find that this workshop and project are successful we will create a manual that will allow Peace Corps volunteers to duplicate this project in their villages across the country. I should also mention that I focus on HIV a lot because 30% of the people in this country are living with HIV/AIDS. I met an HIV counselor in my village and she said that she has been finding that in more remote villages like mine, the percentage is closer to 50%.

I have also been very busy with the 60,000 library books that arrived in Lesotho!!! Of those books, over 5,000 are in my village!! My schools are working hard to unpack and organize their books. The students are so excited. It has taken a while to get all of the books to their respective school, but the Ministry of Education and Training, who is are partner in the project, have been working so hard to help these schools. Tomorrow we are meeting with each of the schools to check in and see what kind of progress they are making. From there we will visit the schools who let us know that they need a little help.

Other fun stories…

My life lately seems to revolve around books. I have read over 50 books since being in Lesotho! I have also started a really small library in my house and have a few kids who have been coming over to borrow books! Sometimes they stick around and we read together and other times they go home and read them there. A few times the kids have borrowed books at night and are at my house the next day to get more! The kids are getting more and more comfortable speaking to me and I can hear that their English is getting better by the day!

One of my closest friends in my village is the grandmother to a few kids who like to borrow books. Her son and I were great friends before he passed away in October. After her passed away, I kept visiting and probably go over 2 or 3 times a week. On my most recent visit she asked me if I knew how to play cards. I smiled and asked her to teach me a game. After she thought about it she slowly told me, because she was thinking, that she wanted to play A-K-4-7. I couldn’t figure out why those letters and numbers were familiar and then I remembered that an AK47 is a gun! I looked at her and asked if the kids in the village taught her the game and she smiled and said yes. It turns out that all you have to do is take turns drawing cards and the first that gets an Ace, King, 4 and 7 wins. I loved it! We had a lot of fun just sitting and playing cards. She loved it because she one nearly every time. She actually started feeling bad because I wasn’t winning!

So I prefer playing sports with kids under the age of 10 because I can try my hardest and am still not as good as them…especially in Africa! The other day a teacher asked me to join the teachers soccer team. I immediately started sweating and tried to think of a way to say no, but accidently said yes! It combined a lot of things that fall under the “not my favorite” category, but I said yes anyway! So we met at 1 that day to walk to the field that was 2-3 hours away. As it goes in Africa, the game that was supposed to start at 2 started closer to 3 and even know I told them that it would be best if I watched for a little, I started. The game was against the soldiers that have a base near our village. I played for the first 45 minutes of the game and didn’t do that bad of a job. More guys arrive later in the game and most of us subbed out after halftime. Even know I was sore for the following week, it was one of the most fun nights I’ve had in my village. My teachers were so excited to have me play with them that they even invited me back to play this Friday! I’m really looking forward to hanging out with them again and even to play. I’ve been trying to move around a little more each day so it doesn’t feel like I got hit by a truck for the next week again!

Well I got a little restless towards the end of writing this. I'll write again soon. Hope all is well!

Maria is going to be a teacher next year!
So is Kristin!
And Caitlin is getting married!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sometimes I ramble!

It is 4PM on Monday and I walked into my house just as it started raining! Behind the mountain that I can see from my door, there is a small village. The government is building a road that snakes up the mountain and will eventually reach the village so public transportation can service them twice a day. They brought all of these huge machines and trucks to get the job done and about twice a week “explode” the mountain. I didn’t expect this the first time and was in a classroom observing a teacher when a bomb went off. I grabbed his arm and checked for damages. He, being fairly old, belly laughed because I was clearly not letting go of his arm for a few seconds. The point of telling you that long story is I got a hitchhike in one of the rock transporting trucks!! One of my principals and I put our fingers out, signaling that we wanted a free ride, and he stopped. I gave it a sideways look, rolled my eyes, and though “this is Africa.” Then I realized the door handle was over my head. When we opened the door I noticed that my seat was a good 6 feet above me! So I climbed in after Ntate Paul, the principal, and closed the door. I definitely smiled the whole ride home. Kids kept running to the road to see the truck, which drives up and down the road about 10 times a day, and I felt like a rock star! I know their gawking had nothing to do with me, but I waved as if I was Obama! In all of my excitement, I forgot how high up we were. When I went to get out, I backed down the first step and jumped. I hit the ground pretty hard a second or two later. Ntate Paul just looked down at me not really knowing if that was an accident. I took some IB Profen for the headache, but am still pretty psyched about it.

In other news…We had our camp a few week ago. It was part 2 of the Healthy Living Camp my friends Meg, Nicole, and I organized for 20 high school students. The camp was great! It was awesome to see the students again and catch up on the past few months. Some of the highlights of the camp were…Kick-4-Life, they teach about HIV through games, came and played games with the kids from 6AM-10. The guy who facilitated the session was amazing. He had way more energy than I had as the sun was coming up and the kids loved it. We had a guest speaker who is HIV positive come and speak about her life. She started by playing a game with the kids to help them understand how it might feel to learn your status. Then she talked to them about her life, how she found out that she was positive, and how she stays healthy. She also talked about her family, friends, job, things she does for fun, all of which the students thought wasn’t possible if someone had HIV. It was probably the best session of the day. We had our friend Alison come the first night to do a cooking demo. I loved it. I felt like I was watching the food network! She taught the kids how to cook a healthy or fortified version of the staple foods they eat. Everything she did was within a typical families budget and in some cases even cost less. Even the boys, who do not cook in Lesotho, asked questions! During lunch the receptionist told me that I had a guest. I gave it the usual “What could this possibly be” and walked to the lobby of the hotel we were at. It ended up being the parents of one of the campers who were in town; they live and work in South Africa while their children live in their home village. They gave me hugs and the mother told me that she had a picture of me with her son in her house! We had extra breakfast so they joined us for breakfast before leaving for South Africa. Our next camp is in August! We’re all looking forward to it!

So this next story is more of a high five for me than anything. I had this very specific idea of Peace Corps before arriving in Lesotho and a lot of it is exactly the same as I thought, but much of it is different. One thing that is different is that I thought I would be doing a lot of work with my hands. Digging and building things. Not exactly my style, but I thought I would give it a try. I finally, probably for the first time in Lesotho, picked up a shovel! I noticed that the water tap at one of my schools was not draining properly and, as a result, created a small swampy wetland all around it. One boy went to wash a peach and came back with wet shoes and ankles! So I went and checked it out, thought about what my dad would do and grabbed a shovel from the teacher’s room. After about 10 minutes of stomping on the shovel, pulling it back to make a loud suction noise, and throwing mud, I had a drainage pit! The kids were pretty confused for a few minutes, but when the water all started running away from the tap, they new exactly what was going on. I put in a good 3 hour nap after that hard work and was pretty pleased with myself.

My friend Meg celebrated her birthday about 2 weeks ago. Last year she scheduled school visits in my village during her birthday, so she did the same thing this year. A few other people were in the area helping with a Life Skills workshop (teaching about HIV, goal setting, decision-making, self-esteem…) at the high school in my village. I decided the best gift I could get Meg would be 2 chickens to slaughter for the big day. I went around with my Ausie (host sister) and asked people to buy a chicken from them. It took us a while to find chickens fat enough, but we finally had 2 neighbors agree to sell us chickens. I told them that I would pay for them and pick them up in a few days. So the big day comes and we go to neighbor 1 to collect the chicken. He’s an older man who lives with his two primary age sons. He smiled when I walked through his gate with a few other white people. He told his sons to go get the chicken and we waited. We smiled as we hear these two boys running through a cornfield and chickens attempting to fly and run at the same time. The boys come out and tell us that it isn’t around today. So we told them to bring it to my house when it came home. You should know that this was all in Sesotho and we speak it, but not well enough for this conversation. So we go to house 2. I told a guy about my age why we were there and a woman goes to get the man I talked to earlier in the week. She stood at the edge of their property yelling for him and he comes out of the primary school with a huge smile on his face. We rediscuss that I wasn’t to buy a chicken and he takes off after one. He and his son had it cornered, but when they went for it, it ran the other way. After about 5-10 minutes of chasing, he comes over and holds the chicken out for me to take. Now I had thought most of this through, but not the transportation to my house. So he teaches me how to hold the chicken without getting pecked or clawed and we start the several minute journey to my house. When we arrive the two boys from house 1 were standing in my yard waiting with another chicken. So when I said I thought it through, I really meant I knew I wanted to put salt and pepper on it and roast it. So we all stood there with chickens making noises without a clue. I told someone to get rope from my house and my knife, but then we didn’t know how to tie them in a nice way that let them know that they weren’t going anywhere. So the youngest of the boys steps up and ties them up. He has to be about 6. He tied them and laid them on the ground for us. Fast-forward about 3 hours while we wait for everyone to arrive. It’s definitely getting dark and we have one headlamp and one flashlight for a pretty dark night. We had 2 experienced chicken slaughterers in the group who taught Meg and another friend how to cut the head off. Meg went at it and got the head off of chicken #1 in about 40 seconds. Without really knowing what to do next we used the rope that already had its legs tied and hung it from my clothesline. I’m sure my Ntate (host father) was not pleased. For chicken #2 I insisted that we untie it to see if a chicken can really run with its head cut off. Our friend went at it, cut it off, and then we all stepped back. The instant he let go of the chicken, it flew straight at Nicole, went off to the left and continued running about 40 feet into my families corn field, all while our friend had the chicken’s head in his hand!! It was crazy. The next hour was spent plucking, gutting, and cooking the chickens, which cost about $4 each!

Finally, I have been working on a project to order children’s books with and HIV message or lesson in them for primary schools in Lesotho. The books are being ordered and dates have been set. So the project is this… I am working with Peace Corps and the Ministry of Education to order about 75 HIV/Life Skill themed children’s books and teacher resources for 20 primary schools in the district that I live in. To make the books useful and the project sustainable, we are developing a workshop to teach 2 teachers from each school how to use these books in their schools. We are going to create lesson plans, try some games and activities in the books, and talk about how to have difficult discussions about sex, death, HIV, and everything else with students. From there, we are going to try to visit the schools to help the teachers to use the books well in their schools. I am also going to create a manual for other volunteers to use if they want to do this workshop in their villages. Hopefully other volunteers will be able to order books and recreate this workshop all over the country!

Well by the time I post this the African Library Project books will be in Lesotho! I will be heading down to organize the books by school and make sure my 3 libraries are well organized before the Easter break! My next blog will have lots of updates about that!

Hope everyone is doing well!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More Semongkong Pictures (blog below)

Great weekend in Semongkong!

Hellooo! I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, but haven’t had a chance!

My friends and I took a trip to Semongkong in Lesotho and had a great time. We got in a little late on Friday night and played pool, ate a good dinner and relaxed. We got up Friday morning to learn how to abseil on a 100 foot cliff. Abseiling is repelling down something on a rope. So we went down this cliff three times and learned different ways to get down each time. It should have been pretty scary lowering yourself down a 100 foot drop on a rope, but it wasn’t too bad. One of my favorite parts of that morning was when my friend Kelly went down. She started a little late and was still trying to learn some of the things we were taught earlier in the morning. When she neared the bottom, we told her that she had to lie flat on her back. Without thinking about it she spread out her arms and lied as flat as she could. We all started laughing as the guy helping us tried to untie her ropes as she lay on the ground like a starfish.

After that, we went on a donkey pub crawl! We each got a donkey to ride around on as we went to about 5 different bars. It was a ton of fun. My donkey was named Maria! The people living in the village have seen people do these bar tours before, but they still shook their heads as a group of Americans rode by on their donkeys. Some of the donkeys had their own plans and would go left instead of right and were pretty stubborn. It made for a lot of laughs.

Sunday morning we got up early to abseil the worlds longest single drop (or something like that). It was 204 meters AND made the Guinness Book of World Records! It was probably one of the most amazing and scary things I’ve ever done. There were 9 people in our group and I went around 7. It took us on average 15 minutes to get down, so we had a lot of waiting time at the top. I started sweating even more when it was my turn. I got all strapped in by one of the guys organizing the abseil and then he hooked me to my rope. I was amazed by how heavy the rope was! It took a lot of effort to back myself to the ledge. I had to pull the rope through the little metal thing attached to me. The next thing I know I’m over the edge and made the mistake of looking down. Something about the look on my face made the guys start laughing. After about 5 feet of “walking” down the wall, the wall disappeared! I was just floating 200 meters above rocks. I did something to my rope and started slowly spinning, which forced me to look down and all around me. I’m pretty pleased with myself for not achieving the world’s highest projectile vomit. I got instantly light headed as I dangled in the air and looked to my right at a huge waterfall and then just openness. It was beautiful. Once I got my act together, I started to lower myself down. I got a little more comfortable as I got closer to the bottom. It was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

Once we got to the bottom we had to wait for everyone else. It was really cool to see my other friends repel down the fall. After the last person got to the bottom we had to walk back. This was definitely more nerve wrecking than going down the fall. We had to keep our helmets on and walk along a path made by goats. Because we were so close to the falls, the path was soaked and slippery. Just to our left was a decent drop, which would not have felt good. We continued along the terrifying path for about 20 minutes and then had a 45 minute hike in front of us. Half way up my arm and legs started burning. I had brushed against some crazy plant and got itchy, burning hives on exposed skin. It went away after about 10 minutes, but it was intense!

Then we skip ahead a little…So on our way home we get on a pretty big bus…probably seats about 75? Then we crammed as many people as we could in the isle. They stood for the whole 5 hour drive up and down mountains on a dirt road. I should mention that my friends and I were stuck in the isle on the way up. It’s awful. We stood chest to back with the person in front of us on a rollercoaster ride for 5 hours!! On the way home, we got lucky and got seats. I was pretty excited about my window seat. We waited for the bus to leave for a good 1-2 hours. Right before we left, some men loaded 10 sheep on the top of the bus with people’s luggage. They tied their legs together and got them on the roof. One must have been right above my window because every time it went to the bathroom it ran right down my window and onto my right shoulder. The bus was so full that there was nothing I could do about it. Right when I started to really get miserable, it started raining, which meant the pee mixed with rain water and just flooded the right side of my body! Definitely an experience I won’t forget!

Hope everyone is doing well!! I’ll post again soon!