Usually, my blogs narrate a single event that me or my family have experienced. Instead, I would like to take the opportunity to give you a snapshot of what we see on a daily basis, just driving around town, going to the groceries, and just living in Lesotho.
I find it so frustrating because often times the things that stand out to me that I want to capture and share with others are happening outside of my window when i am driving. If I’m the one driving, obviously I can’t just take out my phone and grab a shot, but even when I am the passenger, it usually passes us by so quickly or we think it may be perceived as offensive to take someone’s picture without their permission. This little boy kept smiling at us so I didn’t think there would be any harm at capturing him in the middle of play. Playing is exactly what he is doing. Stick and hoop or hoop rolling is a game that can be dated all the way back to the 6th Century. In the US, it was probably a little closer to the late 1800’s. Now, in the world of video games and iPhones, could you imagine two boys using a stick to push a hoop down the street for fun? Whether because they can’t afford anything else, or whether it is their favorite past time, we followed these boys for miles as they pushed these old beaten down tires down the road with bamboo sticks. I kind of envy them for the simplicity of their fun.
This sign was posted in the bathroom of a restaurant. While I can’t say for certain what it is prohibiting, I’m pretty sure we gather the gist, and I’ll just leave it right there.
Now grocery shopping is always a treat when it comes to finding odd items. As we started to approach the cooler months, Rob though it would be fun to roast marshmallows. Here is the crazy part, despite finding cream soda flavored, toasted coconut flavored, strawberry flavored, and fish shaped orange flavored marshmallow, these was not a regular plain marshmallow to be found. So what did we do you might ask? Yup, you guessed it, we had to wait for Rob and Ben’s trip to the US to pick up some good ‘ol fashioned marshmallows.
Following along with our snack food trend. Ben and Rob found these gems. They are called Tinkies. Not to be mistaken for their ever more popular cousin the Twinkie. According to Rob and Ben, much like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, the Tinkie, well they are going to miss that one most of all when we finally leave Lesotho.
Let’s see, potato chip flavors are particularly interesting here in Southern Africa. I will say this, we have never been a big chip family, but since coming here Ben and Papa have become great fans of the Simba chips. Yes, Lion King fans, the biggest line of potato chips in South Africa are called Simba. Simba is the Swahili word for lion. The flavors are what we call unique in the very least: Monkey Gland, Mexican Chili, Tomato Sauce, Smoked Beef, and Mrs. H.S. Balls Chutney. I can only imagine what that last one tastes like.
Kitchen utensils and gadgets are just as amusing as the groceries. Check out this hamburger mold. Have you ever been craving a burger, only to realize that you are fresh out of hamburger buns? You have plenty of hot dog buns, but not a hamburger bun in sight? No problem, just push your ground beef through this mold and there you have it, a hot dog burger! Voila!
Milk here in Southern Africa, much like in Italy is sold in boxes. Because it has been pasteurized with ultra high temperature, it does not require refrigeration until after it has been opened. We love it! I love the fact that we can stock up on milk and hardly ever have to worry about running out of milk and having to run out to the grocery store at the last minute. So, what else might a person need that has boxes of milk, but a handle?
So, what does one do when they reach the end of their peanut butter jar, mayonnaise, or jelly? (Or jam as they say here in Lesotho, since jelly means jello) Why, you use a “month-end spoon” of course! Where has this been all my life?
Probably the most exciting gadget for an American living in Southern Africa is the recipe wheel. Don’t get me wrong, if you are a math whiz, then good for you! If you are like me, however, having a conversion chart at your finger tips that tells you how many degrees Celsius you need to bake your cookies or how many cups you need for your recipe that you are trying to half, this is a God send.
So while grocery shopping has been quite the learning curve, driving around town has also revealed some fun things that will surely help you to understand the Basotho culture. Perhaps you can help us figure this one out, what exactly is a “humped back zebra”?
One thing you will notice pretty quickly after a short time in Lesotho is that the Basotho people do not like to be cold. As I mentioned before, whether in the dead of winter or the middle of summer, you will see many wrapped up in the comfort of their Seanamarena, or tribal blanket. There is a huge history and tradition behind it, but I will save that for another blog. Suffice to say, each one of us will indeed be coming home with a blanket. A definite sign of the importance of the blanket and for staying warm is seen here at a local fast food restaurant. A stack of blankets sits ready and available for any Basotho to snuggle up with and stay warm.
Hopefully you have enjoyed our virtual tour of life in Maseru, we are definitely enjoying experiencing a brand new country and its amazing culture.