Sani Top to Oxbow: The Lesotho Time Machine
I got up at 05:45 for the sunrise. The people at the Sani Mountain Lodge had been raving about it. I prefer to curse the sun to howl at the moon, but sometimes a man needs to tackle a sunrise. Nature here had convinced me so.
I caught a convi-van down the mountain to Mokhotlong for 110 rand ($7.10) which was a lot, but I was tired of standing in the wind waiting to hitch a ride. I know I have mentioned this before, but it bothers me so much when local drivers swerve at the pedestrians walking down the road. They do this so often. Someone is walking down the side of the road and instead of moving further away from them, drivers move closer to them so that they have to jump out of the way.
It is some kind of power thing. I makes me want to punch my driver in the face. If I was walking down the side of the road and not thinking about it, I would be killed as I would not automatically register that someone might attempt to hit me on purpose to show me how big he is in a giant piece of machinery.
When I got to Mokhotlong, I was sitting outside of a supermarket having breakfast when a man approached me like he knew me. It was Michael, the man who owned the semi-truck that I had hitched a ride with two days ago. Awesome! He took me with him to see his businesses.
Michael runs a grocery store and he also sells bulk feeds for both humans and animals. His biggest seller is white maize and yellow maize that people eat. A 80 kg gunny sack of white maize is 505 rand ($32.70) and the yellow goes for 440 rand ($28.50). He told me that a family can easily go through a 80 kg sack in a month. That is 176 lbs of maize powder in a month! The Lesotho staple diet.
As luck would have it, Daniel, Michael’s driver was heading north on a run to South Africa to make a pick-up with the semi and could drop me off in Oxbow where I was headed in Lesotho. The truck was broken-down, but a mechanic was on the case and had us on the road in an hour. Daniel was to make deliveries of maize sacks along the way, so I would be his delivery right-hand-man. And that is how it went. I am just going with the flow of life right now.
We were along a mountain road and we would pull up alongside of a people who were waiting for us to deliver their order, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Daniel and I would get out and give them a couple of gunny sacks of maize and then we would carry on. We made three roadside stops and then we made a major delivery to a store in a village who took the rest of our load off of the truck.
Lesotho is a time machine. If you have ever wondered what the country might have looked like 75 years ago, come here today. It is the same. The only difference is that there are paved roads, mobile phones, and urban areas have electricity. For the most part, the main means of transportation is a horse or a donkey. There are herdsmen dotting the landscape everywhere. Just when you think you are really far from anything, there will be a solo man standing on top of a hill somewhere. Lesotho is rustic, natural, innocent, unspoiled, gorgeous, safe, and raw.
When we got to Oxbow, Daniel pulled up to the New Oxbow Lodge and I found a dorm room for 150 rand ($9.70) in an empty room with a double bed. Sweet. There was a bar next door so I went to play pool with the locals and made friends and laughs doing so. When I first went to play, I asked for chalk for the pool cue. A man searched around and he found me a crumb of blue chalk for me to use. I was laughing so hard at what he had handed me. Later on, during that game, a brand new square of chalk showed up “for the white guy.” I was the only one who used it though. The locals never use chalk here, likely because they never have it.
At 23:00, the generator shut down, the lodge went dark and everyone went to bed. That certainly is a way to end things and get everyone out of your bar.
* I do not watch football, and I do not believe in Jesus. Those things combined are nearly too much for the average African man’s mind…