Do something in 2015 that you will be proud of in 2016

IMG_3513“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

2014 has been the greatest year of my life! I graduated from college, I took amazing trips to New Mexico, Canyonlands NP in Utah and Mesa Verde NP in CO, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and I hiked Mount Saint Helens, Mount Rainier and Olympic NP in Washington, and I now I’m living in Lesotho. Inside each of these adventures are a million memories and little moments that are just as amazing as the main attraction itself. I am truly fortunate and blessed to have done and seen all the great things I have just in this past year.

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

Guys, I love to travel! I read travel journals and blogs and I become envious of inspired by these people because they’ve gone to so many unique and amazing places. I love to know people’s histories so I sometimes do a little digging around about some of them. I get excited and a little motivated when I find out that some of these people didn’t even start traveling until their late thirties or after a long career. If you’re young or still in college and get the same feeling I get when I read the world’s top hiking destinations or read about people who literally travel for a living, then I say DO IT! These people are no different than us; they just made a decision to just do it. Why rush into a career and start making money just so you can start the normal work routine? You know why it’s called a routine? Because falling into a daily pattern makes things feel normal. It simplifies life and makes you feel comfortable day in and day out.

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – John A. Shedd

I challenge you this next year to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. You’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights from Alaska or the beaches of Jamaica, so work hard for a few months and then get on Groupon and buy a cheap, week-long trip to see one of those places! You’ve always wanted to learn how to play guitar, so buy a cheap guitar and sign up for lessons! Sign you and your partner up for those dance lessons she’s always talked about and you’ve wanted to surprise her with! Go skydiving or snorkeling! Don’t just dream about it, do it.

“You only live once, that’s the motto…YOLO.” – Drake

Even through college I lived this way and got to go to some really cool places. Sometimes I would agree to go on a trip without knowing where the money would come from–and no, I didn’t just call my dad for help. In fact, every trip I’ve been on has scared me just a little bit. I’m visiting Kruger National Park in April and to be quite honest, I’m a little worried about where the funds will come from but I guarentee I’ll have a blog post about it in a few months. Nothing is holding you back but your own fear. Fear of money–or the lack of. Fear of possibly missing a job opportunity. Fear of disappointing your family. Or fear of the trip not turning out to be all it was built up to be. If, on one hand, you’re looking to discover the cure for HIV, or be the inventor of the time machine, then ignore all of this and you stay in school and focus on your work. If, on the other hand, you aren’t one of these people the world is desperately depending on, then you don’t have anything holding you back but yourself. Do something different and new. Do something in 2015 that you will be proud of in 2016.

“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” – Anthony Bourdain

What will you do in 2015 that your future self will be happy you did?


6 months in Lesotho and things are going great!

My rondavel is 20 feet in's HUGE!

My rondavel is 20 feet in diameter…it’s HUGE!

Life is so amazing right now (knock on wood). I have been at my new site for about a month and a half and I could not have asked for a better site placement. Many PCVs would say that I’m in ‘Posh Corps’ now since I have electricity and internet access at work. Life is so much easier now, I admit, but…ehh, well there is no ‘but’. Who am I kidding, having one little plug has completely made life better. I don’t have to constantly put my phone on airplane mode in worry that it may rain tomorrow and I may not be able to charge my solar battery (which stopped working a few months ago anyways). To be honest, I came into Peace Corps thinking I would learn to not be attached to my phone and to live out that fantasy a lot of us have of a simple life with no electricity out in a village, but in reality there’s nothing to do after the sun sets so without my phone I’d just be reading a book by candle light…the novelty wears off after a while, trust me.

I live a few minutes walk from my host organization, the Maluti Adventist Hospital and Nursing School where I’ve spent much of my time in the Quality Assurance and Infection Control Department. I spent some time at the nursing school too helping a professor with his freshmen Chemistry and Microbiology classes. I can see myself as a chemistry teacher some day. This went on for a few weeks up until our Phase III training–a training that all PCVs have to go to after their third month of service. Getting through this training is a checkpoint for all PCVs: it means we are no longer on lock-down and are free to travel to other parts of the country. My group surprised me with singing and a cake on my birthday that week. The next day was Thanksgiving where we went to our Country Director’s (CD) house with the newest training group (that’s right, we aren’t the newbies anymore!). There was my group of 17, the new group of 33, the CD and her family, and PC staff members–or in other words, my new family. We all went around and said what we were thankful for and many of us agreed that we have a new extended family here for the next two years. It rained the entire time we were there, but we ate some amazing food, watched a little bit of basketball, some played video games, and we relaxed and had a wonderful time sharing stories and getting to know new people. I wish I could’ve had some of my Uncles G’s homemade peach cobbler. I can picture my family now: Everybody just ate (for the third time, because that’s how we do it) and they’re all about to fall asleep while Jared is running around trying to find some way to get in trouble, and Shay is getting annoyed and telling him to get somewhere and sit down! My Aunt Kim is passed out in the reclining chair next to my Aunt San. Unlce G sneaks back into the kitchen to eat again and somebody hears his fork scrape the plate and they all rush in to join him to finish off the peach cobbler fresh from the oven and a bucket of vanilla ice cream. MM-M-MMM! I’m drooling right now!

After the week of Phase III training wrapped up, I joined another group of people heading to the Ha-Kome Beer Festival. A great time was had by all and I was able to have beers from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Sudan, and a few other African countries.

In Lesotho, we have a group that arrives every June and October and they COS (Close of Service) around August and November, respectively. So, every weekend I’ve traveled to say bye to a few people who are now ending their services. I’ve had lots of good times with them and gotten to see many of the camptowns and sites around my part of Lesotho. I’ve also spent some time getting to know my village (click the pictures) :

It hasn’t been all fun and games around here. Here are some of my prospective projects:

  • At a nearby highschool we want to farm on land that they already have in order to raise funds to buy epuipment for their laboratory and build a housing block for orphans that board on campus.
  • Bee farming is another project we hope to lift off the ground soon.
  • We want to grow peanuts and market peanut powder (used for cooking and for malnutrition) and peanut butter. I am most excited about this project because I pay so much for peanut butter here and I look forward to the day when I can walk to the field, pick my own peanuts and make my own peanut butter.
  • We will also grow soy beans. They are used in countless products such as animal feed, infant formula and vegetarian products–much of my community is Seventh Day Adventist and they are mostly vegetarians.

Lesotho is landlocked and therefore depends heavily on South Africa for products. The idea behind these projects is that we want to help Lesotho produce things that can grow here without having to buy them elsewhere. The greatest thing about these projects is that we know they will work. The gentleman I am working with is Zambian and these projects are popular there. We are doing small-scale demonstrations to make sure these crops will grow here, but the demand is already in Lesotho so I see all of these projects being sustainable. And possibly the best part about it all is that I will get to learn all of these things and be able to do it in my own life after Peace Corps.

Can’t believe it’s almost Christmas. Last week it was 80º+ and it rains almost everyday. It’s hard to get into the Christmas spirit 😦 Happy Holidays to everyone else back home, though!


P.S. Another PCV and I started Humans of Lesotho on Instagram and Tumblr. These pages will present stories from the Basotho we (all PCVS in Lesotho) have come to call our family, friends and neighbors. Follow us at @HumansofLesotho