Lesotho Redux

2summers has been on hiatus for the last week, as Joe and I were holed up at the Lesotho Sun Hotel in Maseru working on a photo exhibition for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. I didn’t have much time for writing, and even when I did I had a hard time sorting out my thoughts.

The Lesotho Sun, Maseru’s only fancy hotel, sits on a big hill overlooking the city. It has a terrace where you can sit and watch the sunset, a pool, a fitness center, a spa, and a casino frequented by Chinese tourists and business people. If you’re looking for a luxurious room, a nice view, and a made-to-order omelet station, then the Lesotho Sun is for you. But if you want to get a feel for Lesotho then I would stay somewhere else.

The view from our room at the Lesotho Sun.

Sunset from the terrace.

(One piece of advice if you do ever stay at the Lesotho Sun: Don’t order food from the bar menu in the afternoon unless you are prepared to wait 45 to 60 minutes for it to arrive. But if you do have an hour to spare, order the Mountain Burger – two beef patties, cheese, caramelized onions, mayonnaise sauce, and a thick slab of pineapple. It’s quite an experience.)

Stuffing my face for the sake of the blog.

We spent the week hanging out with EGPAF’s global leadership team, which includes all of the foundation’s vice presidents and country directors. I’ve known most of them for years and Joe knew several of them too, although few were aware that Joe and I are “an item.” It was funny watching people as they connected the dots.

I loved spending time with old friends, catching up on the latest gossip from D.C., and getting to know so many talented and interesting people. The highlight of the week was a huge reception, attended by health officials and diplomats from all over the world, where the photo exhibition was the main event. It was an honor to be part of something so special and to see our hard work pay off.

The exhibition. Joe and I felt like proud new parents.

But for me, this week was also a strange and sometimes painful collision between past and present, America and Africa, etc. It was a reminder of how uncertain my future is. It’s hard to figure out how to process it or where to go from here. Now that I’m back in Johannesburg, I feel a little bewildered.

Okay, enough introspection.

Africa’s most well-paved road now exists in Lesotho. Last month, the road that heads north from Maseru was a potholed mess. One side of it was closed – meaning that it was scattered haphazardly with softball-sized rocks to discourage vehicles from driving on it. Riding on it was terrifying, especially at night. This month, that same road is a smooth, black-topped piece of heaven.

Black-top heaven. Anyone who has ever driven (or ridden) in Africa will understand.

We ate at the Regal – the Indian restaurant in the Basotho Hat – every night except Sunday and Monday, when it was unfortunately closed because Monday was Lesotho’s Independence Day. (On Sunday we suffered the Lesotho Sun buffet, and on Monday we dined at a South African version of Red Lobster called the Ocean Basket.) We still love the Regal and we’re grateful that it exists in an otherwise culinary wasteland. But I think we’ve had enough hot curry and butter naan for a while.

Just to give you an idea of the what the African version of Red Lobster looks like.

One of the very best parts of the week was our extended visit with Joyce and the rest of the weaving women of Teyateyaneng. We went on Thursday afternoon and spent a couple of hours there, taking photos and shopping. I bought so much, in fact, that the weavers and were beside themselves with joy. They gave us a beautiful tapestry as a gift and cheered and ululated for us as we walked out the door. I can’t get enough of those ladies and their beautiful work.

Joyce (left) and Alina (right). I love them.

Now we’re back in Johannesburg and trying to get back to normal. It’s truly summer here now – we’re sitting on the deck after our Sunday evening braai, enjoying the crickets chirping.

I just spotted Millie crawling down the drain pipe! My first sighting.

I feel comfortable looking at her as long as she’s outside the house.

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  • Reply Jennifer Lentfer October 11, 2010 at 2:36 am

    Totally recommend staying at Lancer’s Inn next time you’re in Maseru. Good accommodation and right in the middle of town!

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