Monday, April 17th
When we were kids we used to love the movie Hook. Before he would fly, his office mates would say "Don't let you arms get tired!" It was foreshadowing for later when Hook does fly and we get to "Welcome back Pan the Man."
My family watched Hook non stop, whenever we could. Now, when I fly, whether it is to Europe or Lesotho, or any trip, my family always tells me "Don't let your arms get tired."
This trip, my arms got tired.
I’m not going to lie- this is my first time flying alone in eleven years, and as much as I seemed excited, tough and brave, I hugged and kissed my husband goodbye and had a little cry before I boarded.
It was then a 7.5 hour flight to Munich. I boarded the plane and was excited that I had two seats all to myself. I put on my headphones and played the theme song to Pan, and as the plane ran down the runway and the wheels lifted off the ground, my heart began to flutter and I smiled ear to ear. Here we go!! I was thrilled to be off on a journey to South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho!
When I arrived in the early morning it was far too cold and wet to do the walking tour I was hoping to do. I had an over twelve-hour layover, so I was hoping to see a bit of the city but it was raining and only 4 degrees, so I resigned to the fact that my day was going to be spent hanging in an airport.
I wandered around for about an hour then realized, “Hey, I am Canadian and I have had to bear worse weather than 4 degrees and a little rain”, so I brought my luggage to a locker, purchased a train ticket and 40 mins later I was in the City Centre of Munich.
I wandered around a little bit, I was there right at eleven so I got to see the giant clock chimes go off with the display of dancing people and revolving characters. The streets were beautiful cobblestone and there were little shoppes all along the roadways filled with lederhosen, painted eggs, tiny figurines and everything in between.
I found my way to St. Peter’s Cathedral. It was stunning. I am always blown away by the beauty of the cathedrals throughout Europe, with such history and faith. Grandeous ceilings, marble, gold paintings, statues everywhere and beautiful alters. I sat down and listened to some of the service and smelt the smoky room. It was amazing to sit and listen.
Just outside the cathedral doors you could purchase tickets to climb the 330 steps up to the top of the Cathedral that overlooked beautiful Munich. I was tired, it was cold and wet, but when I made it to the top, it was all worth it! Through the rain I walked the circular route at the top of Cathedral admiring the beauty of Munich.
I then decided to treat myself to a nice drink and meal. Before I left, I told my dad about the Hofbrauhaus beer hall, the largest and most famous in the world, and he told me to go in and purchase the “best, most expensive beer on the menu” and drink it for him. I heard great music coming from a pub called the Schneider brauhaus so I stopped in and had a lite wheat beer, met some lovely people, and asked the waitress to bring me a traditional German meal. She served me a plate of sausage, pork, ham, dumpling and sauerkraut with gravy. It’s a lot of meat for anyone, especially someone who doesn’t generally eat that much, but when in Munich! I tried a bit of each of them, and liked most of it. It was warm and hearty, how I felt about the city.
The band was taking a break so I decided to walk down further to the Hofbrauhaus. I walked in and instantly smiled. The ceilings were painted, there were old wood tables and benches, loud joyful music was playing the back, ladies with lederhosen were selling pretzels and beer was a plenty. I sat down beside two older ladies and started chatting up the waitress. I told her I was from Kitchener, which was once called Berlin and how my dad had given me money to buy the best beer. She didn’t say a word but pointed and winked at me. A few moments later she came back with a dark beer. I took one sip and looked around at this bustling, loud hall, filled with laughing people. It was packed and it was a Monday at noon. My favourite part of the whole experience was when I asked my waitress what made this place so special. She said that we have fun, and we don’t have customers, only friends. She then went on to tell me that behind the bar there were walls and walls covered with steins from local regular customers who leave their mugs at the bar.
Boy did I love Munich. I wandered past some smaller pubs, flower shoppes, candy shoppes and gelato and decided it was time to warm up in the airport.
I made my way back on the train and said goodbye to the beautiful city. I had a great conversation with a gentleman about hockey and soccer.
I then took the 10.5 hour flight to South Africa. I watched almost four movies and could not really sleep. I was either too excited, lonely or exhausted. I was far too tired to go out in Johannesburg so I spent the day from about 9am to 2pm in the airport wandering around, drinking tea and watching Netflix over purchased airtime. Then the longest flight of them all came- the flight from Joburg to Maseru...a whole 45 minutes!
I was so excited when the wheels touched down. I chatted the whole way there to a young Basotho lady who told me I needed to see the Falls and the Dam before leaving Lesotho and that she was very happy to have met me. I find Basotho people to be much like Canadians - they are sweet, kind and always willing to offer support, directions and a big smile.
When I got off the plane, I walked through customs, picked up my bag and walked through the doors, and there was Samuel with a big smile on his face. We hugged and helped bring my luggage to the van. We drove to the familiar mall in Maseru where I purchased a SIM card, data, groceries and took out money. We stopped for gas and hit a lot of traffic. By the time we arrived in Hlotse it was very late, but two more smiling faces were waiting for me, 'Mme Matsepo and Pastor James. 'Mme gave me a big hug and we sat down for a lovely dinner of rice, sweet potatoes and chicken, with my favourite, Orange Fanta.
I was excited to call Mike and let him know I had arrived safely. I got to the “White House”, a tall building with four apartments in it. I opened the door and I was so excited. A beautiful flat with large living room, kitchen, bedrooms and bathroom and tall ceilings. I put my groceries away and sat down to try to call home. Neither the sim card for my phone or the sim card for the jump drive worked. I was disappointed and although I have only been gone since Sunday, I really wanted to hear my husband’s voice. You see, my husband is my person. We have been together for ten years and he has been through some of the most exciting and some of the hardest times in my life. We are together all the time. So even a day or two without him can be hard. So once again, I had a little cry, told myself you’ll talk to him tomorrow and started putting away my clothing and items in places that I would call home for the next two and a half weeks.
I placed my trusty Cliff bars beside my Kraft peanut butter in the cupboard and told myself- here we go! I unpacked the hundreds of feminine hygiene pads, bouncy balls, cards, balloons, pens and toys, took a deep breath and told myself, "tomorrow, you start up!"
Welcome back to a place I have now only visited twice, but feel an instant comfort as those wheels touched down in the beautiful mountain kingdom. As I fall asleep tonight in a comfortable bed in my new home, I think of the sparkling Lesotho sky filled with stars and anxiously await seeing it’s sun filled sky in the morning.
I am truly grateful and excited to see what the day will bring tomorrow.