‘M’e Jenn is leaving Lesotho for the blistering cold of the American Northeast!
As the weeks have passed and the days have ticked by at an alarming rate, our kitchen conversations have turned repeatedly to packing, budgeting remaining cash to avoid international withdrawal fees, leftover pantry food, and travel to the Jo’burg airport. While Jenn mulled over the finer details of collecting her life into assorted baggage after three years in southern Africa, I was plotting how to kick her off the continent in celebratory style.
STEP 1: Travel to Johannesburg*
The BOTFL students, who have spent the last two weeks in Lesotho trying to develop appropriate sustainability measures for TTL, had booked their departing flight on Saturday 15 March. From Johannesburg.
*For those curious, a drive from Mokhotlong to Johannesburg takes roughly 7 hours (8+ if you avoid the R36 toll), travels through three major mountain passes, and is nigh impossible to schedule through a coach service. Hence TTL was suckered into delivering our volunteers to their Western comforts.
Step 2: Commemorative Tattoo
2014 marks the 5-year anniversary of the loss of Jenn’s father from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Understandably, the absence of such a prominent figure in a person’s life can yield any number of results. For Jenn, it marked the start of a kind of freedom; it kickstarted her adventures in Swaziland, India, and Lesotho over the past three years. A wandering time, but a wandering with purpose.
To commemorate her father, Jenn wanted a tattoo (her first) of a forget-me-not flower, the symbol of Alzheimer’s research, and she hoped to have it done while in southern Africa. With the appointment set for Saturday morning, I fulfilled my arduous duties as moral support/documentarian with gusto.
Step 3: Good food
South Africa = Food variety = Nom on all the sushi
Step 4: Swanky (free) Pretoria overnight
Sometimes your friend’s father is an ambassador. Sometimes you schedule a last-minute stay in his diplomatic residence. Sometimes you lie face-down on a glorious shag carpet and fawn over his art collection and personal library.
Step 5: more good food
Sometimes the ambassador treats you to the most delectable Greek food you’ve tasted in years, and you eat enough moussaka to last several days.
Step 6: Clarens Lunch Break
True, Clarens is a bit of a remote-locale tourist hub filled with false curio shops and overpriced restaurants, but it broke up the drive home and allowed us to eat hummus and artichoke hearts on whole grain seed bread in a park.
Step 7: Surprise Goodbye Dinner!
After a long activity-filled weekend and a long drive back to Mokhotlong, Jenn usually has food and sleep on her mind. But with only three days until she departs, I wanted to make sure two of her close Peace Corps friends managed to get in a proper goodbye. We pulled through the back gate to a surprise candle-lit dinner in the common rondavel – the last of its kind, and arguably the best.
Jenn Baker, we appreciate you.