tales of lesotho. part three.

any place you go, there are always things unique to that place and lesotho is no exception. i am sure that many of these things also happen in other places, but no place that i have ever been. so as far as i am concerned, these are some of the things that make me say, "this could only happen in lesotho..."

accordions. in lesotho playing the accordion is cool.
this guy practices his accordion skills on top of the mini-mountain.
blankets. this is not just something for your bed or your couch, this is actually an accessory. suitable for wearing around the waist or shoulders. these can be worn morning, noon, or night, and during any season; but obviously are most prominent in the winter. women often wear two: one around their waist and a second around their shoulders. for reasons of modesty, i thought that married women had to wear one around their waist, but my mother-in-law informed me that is only if they feel like it. considering that i cannot remember seeing a woman in the village without a blanket around her waist, either everyone really loves blankets or my mother-in-law was giving her american daughter-in-law (who does not particularly like following rules) permission to break the cultural norm.
don't have a proper coat? just wear your blanket.

style. in lesotho the only rule for fashion is matching, which happens to be the same rule by which my father exists. if you are wearing a top and a bottom, you are matching. i am sure you can imagine this creates some interesting outfits. in the winter it is especially fascinating to see the many layers, colors, patterns, and fabrics worn simultaneously. my mother-in-law takes the basotho version of matching to a mesmerizing extreme, which made me love her even more. my american brain cannot grasp this concept fully enough to embody the basotho 'style,' but i like to think i do a decent impression.
the many incarnations of my mother-in-law's style.
teeth. if you have them, great. if you don't, smile proud. enough said.
is there a dentist in the house?

drive-thru (or sit-thru) shopping. the taxis in lesotho are kind of like VW buses and hold 15 passengers, along with their small children, bags, luggage, purchases, and even chickens. in town these taxis take some time to fill up. you might wait as long as 40 minutes before you depart for your destination, but do not worry, because during this time you can sit in your seat and shop. that's right. whether you want them to or not, vendors will bring their wares to your window. you can ignore them, or if you are like me, you can embrace this concept and happily shop to your heart's content. the best part? if you see something you like, but it is not close by, just give a shout and the people will come to you. and if the taxi starts leaving, fear not. they will wait for you to complete your transaction before pulling out of the taxi rank.
shopping from the comfort of your taxi.
housing. the houses are made of mud or tin, but there is something beautiful in their simplicity.
an assortment of the neighbor's houses.

cleaning. considering that people live in homes with clay walls, dirt floors, grass roofs, and no running water, it is easy to assume that things are dirty. actually, the basotho are obsessed with cleanliness. the standard rule of thumb is that kitchen and food is kept separate from bedroom and people. this means that the buckets used for washing bodies, clothes, and bedding, are never used with food or dishes and vice versa. in fact, kitchen towels are not washed with regular laundry, they are washed in the dishwater. in the beginning of my time in lesotho, i found this all rather confusing, but i eventually figured it out and actually decided it makes sense. i do not follow the same laundry rules here in the states, but i have to admit that every time i throw a kitchen towel in with our clothes, i feel like i am breaking a rule. there are a couple of things that i could never wrap my brain around. one is washing the outside of a water bucket and then placing the water bucket in the puddle of dirty water under the tap. the other is that you should sweep your yard every morning, but the rest of the day it is perfectly acceptable to throw garbage on the ground. if you are feeling productive, you can put it in the garbage pit and burn it.
washing water buckets, doing the dishes outside on the dirt stoop, laundry, and burning garbage.

visiting and food. probably my favorite part of lesotho is visiting with people. it is not like here where you make plans to meet people or stop by their house. nope nope. you just drop by whenever you feel like it. you can stay for five minutes or five hours, your choice. best of all...they will feed you! in fact, if you are hungry and just do not feel like cooking, stop by the neighbor's house and ask them what they cooked. if it sounds good, then ask them to feed you. they will. cool, huh?
yum yum.

carrying things. the basotho women carry everything on their head. everything. no matter the size or the weight, if it needs to be carried, up it goes. this is no small feat when you consider that some of the things are bigger than they are and some of these parcels weigh close to 50 pounds. but the part that really gets me is that the older women can do this with no hands.
who needs a mule when you can just throw things on your head?

announcements. when we need to broadcast information to the general public, we can pass our message via television, radio, newspapers, flyers, and of course the internet. since these are not options available to the village, the basotho use a village announcer. so when the chief needs to tell people that children will be vaccinated on friday or that there is a funeral on saturday, there is one dude whose job is to climb to the top of the mini-mountain and 'broadcast' whatever news the people need to know. i like to think i can understand sesotho, but i cannot understand a word this guy says. but do not fret, because everyone else understands him just fine.
the effectiveness of this 'broadcast' is astounding.
signs. i know there are lots of places in the world  that have weird signs and i am happy to report that lesotho perpetuates that tradition. my personal favorite is the shop called "dudu shop. no. 2 special."
want a beer? go to the tarven.
the jumpsuit. yes, those crazy suits, which the western world reserves for military personnel, are happily worn by the men of lesotho. in the states we have cowboys. in lesotho there are herdboys. for the most part they serve the same purpose, but the outfit is a little different.
the jumpsuit in its full glory.

toilets. well actually these are what we call outhouses and what the 'designers' call pit latrines. they come in all shapes and sizes and i find them rather fascinating. the basotho are mortified by the idea of someone taking a picture of their toilet, so these were all taken in secret. shhhh... don't tell.
a room with a view.

**UPDATED** next installment...smiling faces.

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