Finally back in Dublin on Tuesday morning. Twenty hours previously the College bus arrived on time(!) to get us to Maseru Airport and the Jo’burg flight hadn’t left early (which, it seems, happens regularly). Jo’burg /London worked out well also; I even managed to sleep a bit. And London / Dublin was just a dog-leg home.
On Monday after packing my stuff I had wandered across to the Alliance Francaise Coffee Garden for a final Lesotho Latte. Didn’t even have to order. They looked out of the rondavel, saw me sitting there and out it came!
– The usual, n’thade! Said one of the two who’ve brought me coffee each morning for a week. And she grinned. There’s one in the eye for Starbucks, Liffey Valley.
The sun shone like a good Irish summer. It was easy to forget that Lesotho is now well into autumn. Two Basotho sloped past wearing herdboy blankets and woolly hats; another – probably also Basotho but more style conscious – drifted by wearing a full ski-suit and the mandatory rubber boots. Interestingly, my only companions in the garden this morning were both African too. A very urbane looking guy with a clipped tash and oiled hair took an espresso and chatted to the barista who has come out to join him. It looked like a business conversation. The other coffee-goer was a well-dressed young african woman – though probably not local – who was slowly texting her way through a coffee and muffin.
We all sat in the shade of the trees. Tiny leaves rained down each time there was a breeze through the branches above.
The young gardener turned his attention that morning to those leaves building up in the borders and flower beds. It’s an odd sight roses and ‘summer’ flowers in full bloom and thousands of the tiny russet and brown leaves drifting down on them from the canopy overhead. The day before he had gone at those on the coffee patio, paved areas and grass with a vengeance.
The old gardener meanwhile stooped unhurriedly into the lee of a shrub and washed his spoon and food box in a small container of water. He then reached into the bush and produced a bar of soap to wash his hands, using the same water. It was then sprinkled over his roses. Not a drop was wasted. And he looked like he’s been doing this since before I was born.
My African days have, sadly, come to an end. But I am still out there to some extent where the world is a place of wonder and we are all just motes on the air in the breath of God.
Thaba-Tseka, Morija, Maseru… names that now hold meanings which spark thoughts of return.