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March 21, 1979
Children on the porch.

Dear Mother:
Your Mar. 2 letter came Tuesday and don't rush the marigold seeds to me. I thought I'd better get my order in now but I won't be able to use them until next Sept. As you go into spring today, we celebrate the first day of fall. It's actually a national holiday called "Tree Planting Day" There is no tree planting, however, but the school kids are out in force repairing the dirt road which is the main drag in Mokhotlong. I had about 100 kids in my front yard a few minutes ago, picking up stones and putting them in the chuckholes in the road. Tree planting takes place during the bare root season in June and July...don't know why they call today "National Tree Planting Day"

I started off in a bad mood this morning but it didn't last long. I have had company (Peace Corps volunteers and other whites) here for a week and I have had it with company! This morning there was a knock at the door at 7:15 and it was some kids in the neighborhood, I wasn't even pleasant... I just said "Tsamaea! (Go)" and closed the door. About an hour later, when I was deep into cleaning the house, about 10 kids came back with a woman, one of the mothers. I had to invite her in, of course, along with all the kids who walked through the pile of dust I was sweeping out the door. She spoke very little English and my Sesotho is very bad but she got the point across that she wanted to wax and polish my floors. I kept saying, "No, I'll do it" but she kept insisting that she wanted to do it "as a friend" not for money. Anyway, before she left, we had agreed that she would come back at 3 today and polish the floors and I would give her tea I 'as a friend.' Just one of the many incidents that make living in this culture nice...even if it is a nuisance at times. I just saw the postmaster and he said he would be back to visit so it looks like a full house this afternoon.

Sunday is usually visiting day. After church, there are always several youngsters and adults in to visit. We have a difficult time communicating but they love coming in to play cards and look around. His woman's son, whose Christian name is "Patrick" had been here last week to play cards and the woman came, asking to see the "snap." I thought she wanted me to take her picture so I took her picture. It turned out that she wanted to see a picture of Pat. Most of the people, particularly the Catholics, have a Christian name as well as a Sesotho name. The woman must live up in the village in one of the rondavels because her clothes smelled heavily of smoke from the dung fires.

Last week I went with my boss to two villages to see community One village was a four-hour jeep ride away on the worst road I have ever been on...and that's saying a lot. My tailbone will never be the same. The road was carved out of rock on the edge of a beautiful canyon and there were beautiful waterfalls everywhere. We were supposed to go back the next day but the vehicle broke down. That time I was prepared. I put foam inside a blanket to sit on. At one village, my boss asked me to say some "words of encouragement" and I didn't know what to say. The Basotho make great eloquent speeches...or at least I think they are eloquent... they go on long enough. Anyway, I mumbled something about the gardens were beautiful and they had worked very hard, I'll bet I'll be prepared with a speech next time.

I sent for a Burpee Seed Catalog which arrived this week and I've been pouring over it. There is a very limited variety of seeds here and almost no flowers. Everybody seems to grow "four-o'clocks" (huge ones) and dahlias but there are no other flowers. There are lilacs and purple leaf plum trees along my fence. So any flower seeds will be appreciated. I can't have indoor plants because it will go below freezing in the house in June and July. I have a coal stove and will be getting a kerosene heater from the Peace Corps but I can't run them at night, of course.

Hopefully, my run of company will end soon. For some reason, a lot of Peace Corps volunteers have been passing through Mokhotlong. Then I've met a woman who is getting her doctorate in anthropology. She lives in a village about four miles away and she has made my place "a home away from home." Always stopping to spend the night. She was Sunday, Monday, Saturday, and then last night (Tues.) On other night I had Peace Corps volunteers here. Everyone brings food, etc. so it's no economic problem but it would be nice to have a night alone. I think I may have a volunteer moving in with me shortly so time alone is becoming precious. I was lonesome in Ha I'm complaining about too much company.

Mokhotlong ('camp') from Joann's front door.

Note the number up in the corner of this aerogram. The post office keeps track of the number of aerograms they have by numbering each one. Usually I figure up how much I owe for stamps or, in grocery stores, total up what I owe for groceries. The people here are very bad in math and, if I buy several items, they either add each one flour and sugar, add that total, then add the next item to the total. More likely, they hand me the pencil and paper and let me do my own totaling, There are few sacks here, groceries are wrapped in old newspapers or put in a sack I've taken to the store. Most people go to the store every day and buy a couple of items. It's only the Americans that insist upon having a storehouse at home. I buy my bread from women who cook along the road. They keep hot fat or dutch ovens going over open fires and sell the bread (very good!!!!) for 10 [cents] for about a third of an American loaf. Also sell fat cakes (yeast bread fried in hot fat) for 5 [cents] each.

A few of us went to the camp's only restaurant a couple of weeks ago. You have to make reservations ahead of time because of the LACK of customers. We had mutton, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, rice, beets, carrots, lettuce, swiss chard, tomatoes, jello and pudding for 1.20 rand each. The best part of the meal was the owner, who sat at the end of the table waving a feather duster over the food to keep the flies off.

Hope all my tax problems are solved.. Thanks.
Love, Joann


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