Life in the Convent

Life in The Convent of the Holy Name, Leribe, Lesotho feels surprisingly familiar to me. From the moment I walked in the door I was overcome by an odd feeling of nostalgia. Perhaps it’s because the guest house where I stay smells like my Grandma Royer’s house in Indiana – a place I associate with warm summer nights, star gazing, corn fields, God, and unconditional love (not too different from here). Traditional Basotho music plays from the houses within the convent and I find myself set at ease by the accordions featured in many of the songs. It wasn’t until I put on Paul Simon’s Graceland album (staple music of my childhood, that and Dire Strait’s Brother’s in Arms) that I realized the accordion music from Graceland was very similar to Basotho music. So, somehow, I feel at home so far from home. And, it’s nice.

I have a bed in my room – a double bed! which immediately puts my life into the Luxury category as back home in Boston I sleep on a twin size Japanese futon I keep folded up in my closet during the day. I do my own laundry. Wash it in the tub. The other day I was trying to scrub out a stain in my scrubs (imagine that!) and noticed a rock by the tub. Ah ha! Rock in hand I had much improved stain scrubbing. I felt like a monkey who just discovered I could put a stick down an ant hole and get something tasty to eat. Of course, rock on fabric = not great on the fabric fibers, but hole-y clothes are appropriate in the convent (ok, that pun was too much, I KNOW). Sometimes I wonder why I packed the clothes I did, and then, I remember, I didn’t really pack my clothes. It was a mad dash the day I left for Lesotho – and I remember throwing random pairs of underwear and socks at Caitlin who tossed it into my suitcase. I guess that’s why I’m wearing Santa Claus socks right now and have to put my leopard print underwear out on the line to flap in the breeze for all of the convent to see (p.s. Thanks for the underwear, Mother!).

Coffee in Lesotho is instant and often mixed with chicory. Our stove is gas and when I light the oven there is always an explosive type sound and that makes me wonder if I will lose my hand. We boil most of our water for drinking, but I’ve given up on using boiled water for my toothbrush and seem to be doing alright for now. We’re actually very lucky on the convent because have a better water supply than many of the houses in the area. Lesotho is known for having a huge dam in the mountains in the middle of the country – Katse Dam. They sell their power to South Africa and sometimes there is just not enough power for Lesotho. We’ve being having power outages on Sundays. But this is not too terribly big of a deal because I don’t use much that is electric.

We have a guard (who requested I take his photo) and sometimes the sisters come to visit. We also have many guests that also come to stay in the guest house so we’ve made some new Basotho friends and some friends from a Canadian NGO (see next post for more on THAT). One of my favorite things about being here is star gazing in the southern hemisphere. Now, I really can’t tell most constellations apart but I like to make them up and Jen seems to have a pretty good clue. I know we see the Southern Cross and I know that there seem to be many many more stars than I could see in Boston.

Life is good in the Convent of the Holy Name.

Just when you think you're having a bad day, Lesotho gives you a double rainbow
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