Sunday, September 11, 2011

Friends in Pretoria

Amongst the best friends we have made since moving to Maseru are Solomon and Arlene. Arlene is a Nurse Practitioner and had been working for Peace Corps Lesotho for quite some time, though she had left there a while before I first met her. Nonetheless, she and Kathy knew each other from their days working in Guinea and, as it turns out, got along famously. It did not take me long to understand why, or to come to enjoy morning coffees downtown at the Ooh La La Cafe (run on the grounds of the Alliance Francaise - no pun intended) with Arlene and her husband, Solomon.

Sadly, within our first year here, they moved to Tanzania, where Arlene had found work with Peace Corps there. We had planned on visiting them in Tanzania at some point, but they moved again: to Pretoria. Given that they are now much closer to Maseru, we took advantage of a recent long weekend to go see them.

We did some site-seeing while we were in Pretoria, and I must confess I quite liked it. I am not certain what I was expecting, but it seemed a vibrant city that managed to blend an old world feel with modern energy. For instance, we visited , Church Square in downtown Pretoria:

This park features a set of statues of Paul Kruger, renowned for his role in the Boer resistance against the British.

We also visited the Union Buildings, official seat of the government of the Republic of South Africa. Here I am with Solomon and Arlene in front of them:

Facing the other way provides a wonderful view of downtown Pretoria, as these impressive structures are located at the top of a hill:

Covering much of the hillside are some spectacular gardens, where tourists and locals alike are wont to linger:

Truth be told, though, the majority of our time was spent eating out, as Maseru lacks a wide variety of dining out options, and relaxing with Arlene and Solomon in their wonderful back yard:

To be able to spend a relaxing weekend in such a place, with three of my favorite people - and favorite people to talk with about life, the universe and everything - was a true pleasure. That we did so in such a setting, with springtime announcing itself as we did, made the moments just that much more sublime:

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