After six months in Lesotho, I was finally allowed to leave the country, and spend a luxury day in Ladybrand, South Africa. I took one vacation day to cross the border for a haircut, a massage a pedicure, and some good food.
Thanks to another Peace Corps friend, I booked a room at Cranberry Cottage, a serene, boutique-style hotel, with beautiful gardens, the sound of water trickling from fountains, and a spa.
My room was pure luxury with a shower, TV and a firm mattress. I could not believe how lucky I was to find such a deal for $32 on the website: Agoda.com. My Peace Corps friend, Marybeth, told me about this site.
The first thing I longed for after crossing the border was a good cup of coffee. I headed down the wooden steps to the coffee shop, nestled among the trees, where the fountain and soft music put me in a relaxed mood. I had one hour before heading to the wellness center for my massage and pedicure, and decided to do something quite unusual for me; I ordered cake for lunch. I normally order healthy salads, but the waitress told me their carrot cake, and cheesecake were the best, so I thought, what the heck, I haven’t had cake in ages.
After my massage, pedicure and yes, I added a facial, all for less than $60, I called the artist I wanted to meet who lives in Ladybrand.
Her name is Thandi Sliepen, and I found out about her paintings from the French lady who owns Morija Guest House, where I stayed during Easter. Thandi invited me for dinner, and I had a wonderful time looking at her art gallery, and discussing life topics. We have become good friends, and I am taking some of her prints back to decorate my “future” home, wherever I end up after the Peace Corps. I love African art, and portraits like the one of this man.
Thandi told me that she met him, took his photo, and this has turned out to be one of her most popular portraits. I just love the expression she captured in his eyes.
It was late when Thandi drove me back to Cranberry Cottage, but that did not stop me from ordering a drink at the bar, and going to my room to watch CNN. I have missed the news on TV for the past six months, however, CNN kept showing the refugees on the island of Lesbos, and I was craving some U.S. political news about the upcoming elections.
The following morning, I had another amazing cup of coffee, with real cream, and fresh yoghurt, fruit and granola.
I could not wait to meet Joan, the English hairdresser recommended by several expats in Lesotho, and to get my first haircut and a weave since I came to Lesotho. I don’t care if you think this is luxury and a waste of money for a Peace Corps volunteer, but I still want to look my best. It makes me happy, so why not do something that makes me feel good about myself. As the ad says, “I’m worth it.”
I felt as though Joan and I have been friends for a long time. She has her own salon in Ladybrand, called “A Cut A-Buv.” She trained in Liverpool, London, Paris and Berlin, and worked in a salon in a 7-star hotel in Dubai. I didn’t know that 7-star hotels existed.
I wish I could pop over to Ladybrand to spend time with my new friends, but this means taking a vacation day, and Peace Corps only allows us two days a month. Weekends do not count as holidays so I have to save my 2 days a month to visit my dad, three sons, and all my wonderful friends in Paris and California, this July.