Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Everyday life in Maseru

We were told this is Africa Light. I can’t say from experience if this is true. There are stores here and even a mall. There are a couple of grocery stores, clothing stores, and craft shops. There are hundreds of public phones, which appear to be metal sheeting lean-tos, which also sell veggies. There is public transportation and paved roads.

There is a movie theater in the mall, which is currently planning Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. The sound was tinny, terrible really, and the screen was dirty. Sure Harry came and went in the rest of the world weeks ago, but it was still new to us. The mall is home to Kentucky Fried Chicken, Spur, and Ocean Basket. Along with the newest grocery store, there are a number of clothing stores. The food places are terribly slow, but the clothing stores are okay. I bought shoes and they didn’t have my size in stock. They called a guy at another store and brought a pair over 30 minutes later.

Groceries are different, but average out to the same price. Peanut butter and pasta are very expensive, but veggies and meat are cheap. Most things are available except chocolate chips. There are other things that are missing, but I have gotten so used to the available items, that I forget what I used to miss. Sometimes items are available, but in small quantities, like paper towels. We do order sandwich crackers from Amazon, and Cheerios, diapers, wipes, paper towels, cat food, and coffee. The coffee here is mixed with chicory, which just looks gross. I don’t drink coffee, so I can’t say how it tastes. The pure bags are quite expensive. I don’t think they have all purpose flour here. The flours are not finely ground and often have nuts mixed in.

There is a main street that has lot’s of shops that I am not ready to enter. There are also a number of PEP stores. These are like dollar stores that sell a little of everything. They are great for kitchen stuff and kid shoes. There is a grocery store here and some finer dining, like Indian and Chinese food.

There is public transportation. There are taxi’s called 4 by 1’s. These are beat up old cars with a yellow stripe that careen through the streets. There are also vans, somewhat between the size of a minivan and a conversion van. These vans always seem to be breaking down, but people here love them because they are cheap. We once saw a man jump from one moving in one direction onto one going the other direction. It is strongly suggested that we do not take public transportation.

Most of the roads in Maseru are paved. The main roads around the country are also paved. The side streets are not. Our current road is partially paved. The potholes in the dirt section are big enough for Josie to stand in. Good thing we have four wheel drive.

Power is okay. We do not have rolling black outs, but the power is inconsistent. The backup generator runs a couple of times a week.

The water is also inconsistent. City wide outages are common. In this house, our backup tank is used about once a week, this past week it was twice. We do have hot water here. The shower in our master bedroom doesn’t work, but there are two other showers in the house, so we are both able to get daily hot showers.

The maid recently moved to a cheaper place. This house does not have water or electric, but the landlord promised her power would be installed at some point. I don’t know how common this situation is, but looking around at the local homes, I think it is fairly standard.

I should have written all this down when we first moved here and the differences were obvious. I will try to keep a running list. Additions will come later.

No comments: