A series of ridiculous events (post by Elena)

Last night, Lauren and I drove up to Leribe from Maseru (about 100 km) to stay the night there so we would be closer to the hospital where we would be holding our focus group in the morning. We arrive in Leribe around dusk. First, we drive for about 20 minutes on the same 3 pot hole ridden dirt roads until we get the key and find the trailers where we’ll be staying for the week. We drive into a plot of land about the size of an acre. We’re knee deep in weeds. Sheep roam and 4 trailers owned by LeBoHa (Lesotho Boston Health Alliance) surround us. LeBoHa graciously offered to let us borrow a trailer for a couple days since our interviews are in the northern part of the country this week. We open the door to our friend’s trailer to get the keys for our trailer. On a table in her tiny trailer is 5 bunches of keys. We grab them all to start trying on own new homestead. Finally, one key works but after jiggling it, I hand it off to Lauren to put her muscle into it. Lauren gives it a go too, and then tried leveraging it with another key, and then: snap. The sheep are laughing at us. The sun is almost down and we’re standing in weeds and sheep poo with a broken key and an early morning meeting in the mountains.

We circle the trailer. There’s an open window. Lauren hints that I’m the one to launch in the window (that is three feet above the tops of our heads) because she thinks she can lift me. I’m resisting. We pulled a trash can around to the bottom of it and Lauren starts climbing on top of the trash can, the ground is so uneven, I’m trying to hold it steady. We’re laughing pretty hard. I’m thinking if Lauren falls, she’s falling into this crunchy sheep poo which we hear under each and every one of our steps. A Basotho couple is watching us. Lauren starts to tell them that our key broke off so they don’t think we’re breaking in to the trailer. Without hesitation, the Masotho man jumps up on the can and wrangles himself into the trailer. A hero. We think this is great until we realize that he can’t get out the front door unless he manages to open it with the broken off key inside. Lauren tried taking off the door knob to open the door so the lock is pretty messed to begin with. We give him my pocket knife and flashlight to aid in his valiant effort. In hindsight, allowing a stranger to break into our abode and giving him a knife and our only source of light may appear misguided. But really, no one enters this area to steal And there was a guard and we just felt safe. Despite our boy’s efforts he’s unable to open the door and we also decide that we wouldn’t feel safe sleeping in a trailer that doesn’t lock. We tell him it’s okay to give up, at first he resists – our silent hero is determined. But finally, he makes his way out the window, onto the trash. We thank him profusely. But without a word or even a pause he hands me my flashlight and (now warped) pocket knife and walks off into the sunset. “We’re staying in our friend’s trailer tonight” we concluded.

We unload into her itty bitty trailer. There’s a small room with a futon, and a kitchenette/living area and a bathroom. Lauren insists she would be fine sleeping on a love seat that was no longer than 3 feet; she’s afraid she’ll accidently smack me in my sleep. I insist that I have my sleeping bag and wouldn’t feel it anyway. And then we hear a knock on our trailer door.
After a few minutes, Lauren walks back into the trailer with a key with a baffled look on her face. Earlier, our friend mentioned that another trailer was available but that the volunteer doctor had accidently taken the key with him and they were in the process of tracking it down. It had been weeks so they were sure it wouldn’t be available for us. Apparently, the doctor went to Cape Town but the brother just happened to come that night to return the key and we just so happened to be there to get it. We’re shocked by the incredible timing. Of course the key didn’t work though (because the lock had since been changed). But we did discover a new room in our friend’s itty bitty trailer (how did we miss it?) so we had our own beds. We decide to stay in, drink wine and eat whatever snacks we have. We watched Chuck and called it a night.

In the morning, it was below freezing. We escape. The focus group at Manohau Hospital went well and the drive in the mountains in our faithful roller skate was gorgeous. I took hundreds of pictures; the vast majority are crap though. I would upload some now but internet couldn’t be slower.

Thanks for joining us on our journey!


Lauren posted on June 8, 2010 at 12:04 pm

When Elena says freezing…she is tremendously understating the situation…it was literally below freezing INSIDE the trailer…our liquids were ice! Needless to say, the 140km drive back to Maseru was well worth it after our night of ridiculous events.

carolyn posted on June 18, 2010 at 2:13 pm

wow…crazy adventure! i ran into your mom and dad in Giant Eagle and they were telling me about this before I had read it!

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