Monday, January 19, 2009


It was early when we left the mountain top. Only 3am. Dark but still warm from the abnormally warm winter days in southern California. After cruising along PCH and making our way down Lincoln we arrived with plenty of time at LAX. I quickly checked in and had my bags checked all the way through to Maseru. Looking at the tags as they traveled down the belt I saw the bold letters MSU and thought it would be a miracle if I actually saw them again. My first leg was LAX to Atlanta and quick 4 hour flight and the begining of a two day journey. In Atlanta I found my next gate and double checked with the counter that my bags were going to make it on board and I was assured that they would find me in Maseru.  I was still not convinced that they would. I found my seat and was next to a very straight clean cut ex-marine. We had a very uncomfortable political conversation which was mostly me holding my tongue not wanting to make an enemy of my neighbor for the next 20 hours. He turned out to be some sort of contractor for US shipments of missiles and spoke constantly in very vague terms about his job. As if he wanted to show off.  
We landed in Dakar, Senegal after our first 8 hour leg and the plane was refueled and re-stocked with food. We also had a visit from the Dakar security and every seat cushion and overhead luggage container was checked. All I saw of Senegal was the dark night sky and the lights of the city. 
Then another 8 hours to Johanesburg but this time to avoid more awkward conversation and to catch up on sleep I gave up on my natural methods and took an ambien. In Jo-Burg I found my hotel shuttle and was pleasantly surprised by the accomodations. I requested a second floor room facing the courtyard as I had been told that a student before me had been chloroformed (is that how you spell it?) in her sleep and robbed of everything because her room was on the ground floor and facing the street.  Needless to say it was hard to fall asleep. To make matters worse the rooms had no alarm clocks which ended up not making any difference because I didn't sleep a wink the whole night. 
The next morning I found myself once again on a 3 am journey to the airport for my last flight of the journey. I was much to early for my flight and entered an eerily dark and completely unoccupied international terminal. I found the counter for South African Airlines and sat down on the ground to wait. The terminal which had been so bustling yesterday was now quiet but not quite peaceful. After a minor snafu at the ticket counter concerning something about my ticket being closed, I acquired my boarding pass and another guarantee that my bags where going to be on the plane with me. We landed on a small air strip and the country around us was beautiful. It seemed to be much like a high desert with green grass and mountain tops reminiscent of New Mexicos mesas. During the flight the passengers had been talking excitedly about Obama and inaguration day and I felt so proud to be from the United States. A pleasant contrast to my feelings after sitting next to my ex-marine. After a very easy pass through customs I waited next to the belt and was not surprised when I didn't see my bags pass by.  Apparently this happens about 50% of the time and I am expecting my bags hopefully tomorrow. I was picked up by one of the staff members of the LeBoHA (Lesotho Boston Health Alliance) Program and we entered the town of Maseru. Driving through the streets it was hard to believe that almost 30% of this population has HIV/AIDs.  The streets were broad and children going to and from school were dotting the sides of the road. After 15 minutes we arrived at the LeBoHA office which is where I am comfortably sitting using WiFi and writing this blog. 


  1. Wow, what a long trip! Stay safe.

  2. i'm so glad you're writing this bina- i hope you continue because it is fascinating. we love you and wish you a wonderful experience. you are brave! and, i hope you got your bags! can't wait to see you when you return. LOVE YOU!