Today was one of those “rare” days in Lesotho, were everything fell into place, and to top it all off, I received a marriage proposal. I’m not sure how this happened, but it might have something to do with a change in my attitude since I got back from a much-needed vacation in Paris and California. For some reason, I’m far more relaxed in Lesotho than I was before I left. Why? I’m not quite sure, but knowing that I still remember how to drive a car, that the world back home has not changed—even though mine has—that my three sons love and miss me, and that I have some amazing friends who truly care about me, has boosted my confidence in a country where I often wonder whether I’m making a difference.
So what does this have to do with the marriage proposal during my taxi ride?
Well, for the first time, I was able to communicate in English with my new taxi driver, Elliott (his English name) and John (the man who proposed to me.) Apparently my favorite taxi driver, Sheleng, crashed his taxi during my vacation, and is at home recovering from some minor injuries.
John opened the front passenger door, and scooted over when he saw me waving down the taxi on the side of the slushy, dirt “path.” He happened to be a retired primary school teacher in the next village, and I was relieved to finally engage a Mosotho in a conversation, other than the formal greetings.
Elliott started the conversation. “Do you like Eminem?”
“Yes,” I said.
“I know all the words to his songs,” he continued and proceeded to sing.
“Have you met him?” he asked.
A question that did not surprise me as previous Peace Corps Volunteers said they’ve been asked if they know Michael Jackson. Apparently he’s still alive.
John then asked me where I was from, and where my husband lives.
I told him I was divorced and he asked me why?
I told him to ask my husband, as I had no intention of getting into that discussion with this man.
“I have ten children,” he said.
“Wow! How old are they?”
“I cannot remember.”
“How old are you?” he asked.
“Fifty-eight,” I said, “Any you?”
He wouldn’t say.
“I guess you’re sixty-eight,” I told him. His face was heavily wrinkled, and he looked older, but I was trying to be polite.
When he didn’t reply, I said, “Older?”
He then told me he was younger than me: fifty-four.
“Will you marry me?” he asked.
“I don’t want to get married.”
“You don’t want a nice man, and to stay in Lesotho?”
“No. It takes a while to get to know someone,” I replied.
“You don’t want to live in Lesotho?” he continued.
“Have you ever traveled outside Lesotho?” I asked.
“Come and visit me at home,” he continued.
“I don’t think so,” I said.
He would not stop, so I finally told him that I only like tall men.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because I’m tall.”
That finally got John to stop asking me to marry him.
Meanwhile Elliott was laughing, and he finally said something that surprised me,
“It’s impossible to get a white person to marry you. If a Mosotho woman (person from Lesotho) is asked by a white man if she will marry him, she will not hesitate to say yes, immediately.
So this was an interesting taxi ride, and I made sure I got Elliott’s phone number, as I like the fact that we can have a conversation in English, plus he’s a much safer driver than Sheleng.