It had been two years since we lived in a different country and I think we were all itching for a new adventure. We rolled the dice and the winner is Maseru, Lesotho! Haven’t heard of the country? It’s okay, few people have. I have come to the conclusion that it is my job to educate all my family and friends on African geography and this little gem of a country completely surrounded by South Africa.
All in all, our journey to Lesotho was far less eventful than our trip to Italy. When we finally arrived in Italy, we had no luggage, arrived 10 hours later than what we were scheduled, and the only toothpaste we could get our hands on was lemon flavored. Our journey to Maseru was on time, we arrived with all of our luggage, without so much as a delay and we came home to a completely stocked refrigerator inside our new home for the next two years…this was already starting out way better than the last time.
Our first couple of weeks were spent in a state of discovery…learning the ways of the grocery stores and everything that they offer. There are things that we anticipated not being able to find, peanut butter maybe, Stacey chips, salsa…but then I think there were things that we never imagined would be difficult to find, and yet we are realizing we may need to go without -for two years. Ah the joys of an overseas adventure!
So here are the lessons we have learned while living here in Maseru for 3 months:
- “Hot dog sauce” in a yellow container with a big picture of a hot dog on the front is not actually mustard (despite the deceiving appearance).
- “Mustard sauce”, also in a yellow container, despite it’s name is NOT mustard.
- Everyone walks here. Don’t get me wrong, some have cars, but the vast majority do not. People walk miles to get to work, to the store, and to church.
- Since everyone walks everywhere, in the African hot sun, they all have umbrellas and hats. Hats are very big here. Baseball hats, floppy hats, fisherman hats–there is no one “right hat” but the flag of Lesotho has a “mokorotlo” on it which is the traditional Basotho hat and those are very popular. People wear them with great pride. Umbrellas are everywhere, on a bright sunny day at 5 PM, you will see a mass exodus of people walking alongside the highways wearing hats and armed with umbrellas.
- Growing up I realized that my family was always on different schedule than everyone else, we joke, but I came to realize this was ‘Mexican time’. Once we were in Italy we realized that Italian time and Mexican time were very similar. Things started and people arrived just a little later than what was scheduled…Maseru time is very much the same.
- Corn tortillas are a hot commodity to the American community here, I’m pretty sure they carry more value than gold and are just as rare.
- Unlimited internet is not a thing. Everything is on a pre-paid plan and when you run out, you run out. This is true of your phones as well as your WiFi at home.
- Shoes are optional at the shopping malls in South Africa.
- If you thought you understood and appreciated thunderstorms and rain, you soon realize that there is much more to Toto’s song than you ever imagined. The rains in Africa are indeed something to behold.
- Basotho (people of Lesotho) have perfected the art of disseminating media. News headlines are strategically placed alongside the road. Want to know the story? Guess you have to go pick up a newspaper. They have mastered the nuance of teasers.
- Ndate, pronouced “en-dah-tay” means sir and all men are addressed this way. ‘Me, pronounced “may,” means ma’am and all woman are addressed this way.
- Living in Lesotho has taught us lessons about living in a society as a minority. In Italy, even though we were from a different country and spoke a different language, we could learn the learn the language, adapt our fashion and try to blend in. In Lesotho, no matter how well we learn the language and adapt our clothing, there is no way to ‘blend’…we still stick out. So the key is learning to accept that everyone will know we are Americans, yet if show respect for their culture, they will surely accept us into their world.