Maseru and beyond

As usual on these trips I take for work, time is flying, mostly due to the amount of work that needs to get done. This week was no exception – in fact the week is a complete blur of activity! I won’t bore you with all the details, but most of what I have been doing so far is meeting with our client and trying to get the project to move forward and also to set up our field office here in town. There are a million little things that need to get done, and my list doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter, just longer!

One of my big frustrations this week was coming head to head with major bureaucracy. On our Mozambique project, we have people there who know the system and to be honest, they did most of the talking to government and client. Here, there is no one to help in that regard. So, it is me who is meeting with people usually on a daily basis, and I am learning and breaking many of the protocols that I am supposed to follow. It’s hard to follow the rules when a) you don’t know them, and b) they are getting in the way of progress in a forward direction. But I am learning, so hopefully this week will be a bit smoother. I also feel like I have been talking in circles on various topics, which is also rather frustrating. But, there is also good news! We are now working out of our project office, where there is actual furniture that has actually been put together! There is nothing else there (i.e. phone, internet, security system, computers, etc.) – but it’s a start!

On a more interesting subject, this morning myself and three other team members who are here (two engineers from Kenya who will be permanently in Lesotho for the duration of the project and a Canadian consultant) took a road trip this morning in our rental vehicle. We wanted to get out of the city and see what is out there. We decided to try to head for a town called Roma, where the national university is located. I say try because although we had several different maps, even the sum of all three did not give us a clear picture of how to get there. We managed to find the right road out of town and followed it into the countryside.

The views were stunning. I took pictures, but this 3G stick that I am using for internet meters by MB usage so I won’t be uploading them for now. But take my word for it, Lesotho is a beautiful country (at least, the part of it I saw today). It is a mountainous country – Maseru itself is at an elevation of about 1,500m, and much of the country is higher to a maximum of 3,500m. It reminds me slightly of Bolivia but the mountain formations are different. Even though it was a bit rainy and cloudy, we were still able to take in some great vistas.

On the way to Roma, we saw a sign for Thaba Bosiu. This is the flat-topped hill used by King Moshoeshoe when he began building the nation of Lesotho. We pulled into the parking lot and were met by a guide (possibly self-appointed, but relatively knowledgeable) who showed us the tourist centre they are building there and in the process told us a bit about how people in Lesotho used to live. Typical homes here are called Rondavels, and are round buildings of either stone, mud or thatch, with a thatch roof (in fact my room at the B&B is in a rondavel type building with a thatch roof!). They are building a typical village where tourists will be able to see the way of life. It’s not quite done yet, and if it is done by December when the guide said it would be done I would fall over in disbelief. But it certainly looks like it will be an interesting place to stop in the future! I also bought myself a souvenir – a Basotho Hat! You’ll have to wait for the pictures – or check out my FB profile pic!

From there we headed on to Roma, where we took a quick drive through the university buildings. There wasn’t much else in town, so once we had driven through it we turned around and headed back to Maseru. It was a nice outing, and it was great to actually get out of the city for a little while! I would love to do some hiking while I am here – there is supposed to be some great trekking but I am not so sure it is going to happen.

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Posted in lesotho | travel | work Submitted by Meg on Sun, 2009-10-25 14:36

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