My recent Maseru trip was a muddled mess of near misses.
‘M’e and I left early morning to hike Thaba-Bosiu, the legendary mountain where King Moshoeshoe defended the Basotho against invaders. We arrived at the information center only to learn that tours had stopped running that day.
Heading to the mall for dinner at Pick’n’Pay seemed a good backup option. Pick’n’Pay is the best grocery store in Maseru. Apparently everyone else knows that since the shelves were completely picked over, the queues were astronomical, and we had no kitchen to cook anything.
We decided to try Ladybrand for a consolation dinner at Living Life. At the border, we saw another queue an hour long and no space for parking. We passed through the border gate to park and stamp our passports, but then realized that after the Lesotho border queue, there would be an equally long SA border queue. By the time we would reach Living Life, their kitchen would be closed. We returned to the car and paid M30 to re-enter the country, stamp-free and hungry.
I dragged ‘M’e back to the mall. If we’re going to kill time, we’re going to do it properly: see a movie in the only Basotho cinema. (We noticed The Forgotten Kingdom film poster featured behind the counter.) ‘M’e wanted to see some brainless flick, probably about women who roll in dough and cheat on their husbands, and no doubt rife in nonsense drama and IQ-busting material. I wanted something a bit denser, something I’d anticipated for months: Noah. I won that battle and got a swanky pair of 3-D glasses to go with it. (3-D movies in Lesotho you ask? I know, right?)
By the time we left the theatre, Pick’n’Pay had closed. There went our final dinner option. A café upstairs was serving overpriced pseudo-wraps. With enough Peri-Peri sauce, though, I couldn’t complain.
We began well with our Lesotho National TV appointment – everything worked well and people arrived on time. Then we ran other errands.
South African High Commission – ‘M’e sat for over an hour, only to learn that her passport problem was undeterminable and it would cost R3,000 to identify the issue.
Shoprite – The managers only had half our order compiled and spent too much time trying to find the remainder
LCS – We waited 45 minutes for someone to locate the one person qualified to help us find our order (which I had independently already found, aggregated, and stood near protectively, yawning).
Pick’n’Pay – Still no food; left without lunch or groceries.
Market – ‘M’e had to pay R7 for parking though she had stepped away from the car for all of 2 minutes to get papa ka meroho.
Finally Mokhotlong-bound, we had our first stroke of luck. As we sat at the Butha-Buthe petrol station, a tall blonde lekhooa ran past our car – a tall blonde lekhooa I recognized from my London stopover this past December. Marijn and Ann were not 30 feet away.
Let the Southern African Adventure begin!