Across the Middle of Lesotho to Mokhotlong Village

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    Traditional dressed man, just after he got off the bus.
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    This scenery. Lesotho is a gem.
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    "Don't go here," they said. "The road is too long," they said.
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    Lesotho village.
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    Barn houses? Where am I?
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    Very typical rondavel housing in Lesotho.
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    It is just so pretty here.
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    A little mechanical roadside bus work.
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    Perfect!
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    Gorgeous little village.
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    'We painted it red so you will not crash into it!'
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    Local life.
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    Harrows? I am not sure what my bus conductor is doing here.
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    Picnic at the end of the broken down bridge.
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    This is Lesotho.
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    Rondavels.
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    Just the green, and the landscape.
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    Like someone drew the perfect river.
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    A van I caught a ride in and the line up of people wanting to pile in.
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    There were 24 of us in the van. I was under this chair and behind this ass.
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    I love Lesotho....
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    ...Lesotho has climbed very high very quickly on my country love list.
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    This is Africa.
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    The locals in the van were laughing at me because I kept on taking photos of their villages.
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    'So, this is where we are going to drop you off. A taxi should come along at some point...'
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    My convi-bus-taxi driver and his conductor.
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    Drinking beer and teaching Lesotho men how to smoke a pipe in a semi-truck as we drove on really rough roads though the mountains in the middle of Lesotho. Life is so awesome.
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    The road conditions...
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    I took this in the morning, but this is the bed I ended up with in the middle of a pasture in Lesotho!
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    This is Lesotho.
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    "Don't go here," they said. "The road is too long," they said.
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    Harrows? I am not sure what my bus conductor is doing here.
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    Like someone drew the perfect river.
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    Gorgeous little village.
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    Drinking beer and teaching Lesotho men how to smoke a pipe in a semi-truck as we drove on really rough roads though the mountains in the middle of Lesotho. Life is so awesome.
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    This is Lesotho.

March 26
I decided to check out of the village Roma and get deeper into Lesotho to get as real as possible.  I feel like I sort of cheated Swaziland by only seeing just a small corner of a small country.  So, this morning, looking at a map, I noticed a fine line that represented a road that went right across Lesotho to the other side.  It was not a thick line so I knew it was not much of a road.  But, that probably meant for a pretty interesting drive.

This is Lesotho.

This is Lesotho.

I caught a 6 rand ($0.39) from Roma to a junction called St. Michaels.  The mini-van sped off again and I walked up to a group of men standing beside a mini-van that was broken down.  Obviously, I was out of place and one of the men recognized so and curiously asked me where I was going.  I told him I was on my way to Mokhotlong, which was directly on the other side of the country.  He told me that I was much better off to take the road that went north (the thick line on the map) and to go all the way around.  He said that would be much easier.  I told him easy is boring.  He told me that it was going to take me, “Three or four days,” on the road I wanted to take.  It might not be much of a road, but I knew it would not take three or four days.  I have become keen to the fact that Africans have no concept of distance versus time…ever…

"Don't go here," they said. "The road is too long," they said.

“Don’t go here,” they said. “The road is too long,” they said.

A bus came along that said “Thaba Teska” in the front window.  Thaba Tseka was more than half way across.  I stopped the bus and climbed on.  80 rand ($5.17) for the journey.  I asked the conductor when we would arrive.  He told me at 13:00.  We would get there at 15:00…

Part of the drive was through a place called “God Help Me Pass.”
The journey was great.  The bus was full of locals wrapped in traditional blankets, some of them drinking beer at 10:45 in the morning.  The views were stunning as we cut right through the mountains of the heart of Lesotho.  You cannot ever let someone influence you away from something that you are sure you are capable of doing.  You know you best.  Had I listened to the man on the road where I caught the bus, I would have quickly traveled down a highway and missed the beauty that was before my eyes here.  Other people are always sure they know what is best for you, but they do not.  They do not know what you are really looking for when they spew out their opinion.  They only know what they are not looking for and assume you are going to feel the exact same way about everything they feel.  So, they encourage you to miss something amazing so that you can have the comfort they prefer.  The drive from Roma to Mokhotlong would be one of the most beautiful drives of my life…

Harrows? I am not sure what my bus conductor is doing here.

Harrows? I am not sure what my bus conductor is doing here.

When travelling, everything everywhere is interesting, but what has truly come to light in Africa is that if you want to see truly fascinating life, you need to get off the main roads when you travel.  Off of the main road and on the rough trails connecting villages is where you will find:

– donkeys pulling carts
– villages of round huts that say “Africa” to you
– men on horseback wrapped in traditional blankets, wearing balaclavas to stay warm
– restaurant businesses in campers with no wheels on them, set up in a circle around a makeshift bus station
– beautiful mountains with terraces cut into them where people have planted crops of maize or sorghum
– collapsed bridges with people having picnics at one of the ends
– men on horseback transporting crates of beer
– stopping the mini-van-taxi on the side of the road to hand a huge bag of flour to a man on horseback who throws it over his lap and carries it home

Like someone drew the perfect river.

Like someone drew the perfect river.

In Thaba Tseka, I got off the bus and squeezed into a small yellow mini-van-taxi that the driver said would take me to Mokhotlong for 54 rand ($3.50).  I asked him how long that would take.  He said it was a three hour journey.  Four hours later we stopped at a fork in a dirt road where the driver told me to get out and I would catch another taxi to take me to Mokhotlong as my driver was going another way.  We were in the middle of the countryside, cattle around, a stream nearby and a small concrete bridge that allowed vehicles to pass was the only indication that other humans had ever been there before.  This was where I was supposed to wait for a taxi?  Wow…  I knew there was a village a couple of kilometers back that we had passed through, so if worst came to worst, I could walk back there and try to find a place to sleep.  My mini-van-taxi man said that he would wait until a ride came for me.  Oh!  Good!

Gorgeous little village.

Gorgeous little village.

I had been sharing my pipe and tobacco with a man who had also been riding in the mini-van-taxi when a semi-truck came along about 10 minutes later.  I could see the two men inside smiling.  My taxi driver went to talk to them and came back to tell me that I could get into the semi with the two men, and for 50 rand ($3.25), they would take me the rest of the way to Mokhotlong.  Good enough for me.  I climbed into the semi and introduced myself.

Well, the semi guys turned out to be really cool.  I remembered that I had a couple of beers in my bag, so I got them out, and the semi passenger and I drank them while smoking my pipe.  The guys in the semi were grinning and laughing at their luck of this hitchhiker they had picked up.

Drinking beer and teaching Lesotho men how to smoke a pipe in a semi-truck as we drove on really rough roads though the mountains in the middle of Lesotho. Life is so awesome.

Drinking beer and teaching Lesotho men how to smoke a pipe in a semi-truck as we drove on really rough roads though the mountains in the middle of Lesotho. Life is so awesome.

The road was one of the worst I have been on in my life.  For 15 kilometers, we drove at a speed less than walking because the road was so bad.  Once we made it through that mountain pass, we got to a smooth section again where we could make up time.

At 21:00, we were only a few kilometers outside of Mokhotlong when the passenger told me that he knew of a guesthouse.  So, we stopped on the side of the road, I put on my backpack and we walked in the dark for about a half of a kilometer through some pasture.  I am not even kidding.  I wondered where we were going.  There were no lights anywhere to represent that there might be a home for me to sleep anywhere.  We had come quite a distance down from the road where I could see the truck parked far above us.  Eventually, some buildings appeared, but there was no light coming from them.  It did not look like a guesthouse to me.  We made our way to the front door and knocked.  A white man opened the door in his underwear.  Where was I?

It turned out that the man who had opened the door was also a guest staying with his family.  He said that the people who rent out the place were in bed, but that there was one vacant room left.  I shook hands with my friend who had brought me to this point and he headed off into the night to get back to his truck.  I followed the white man to a room.

I took this in the morning, but this is the bed I ended up with in the middle of a pasture in Lesotho!

I took this in the morning, but this is the bed I ended up with in the middle of a pasture in Lesotho!

A big bed covered in a nice blanket with fluffy pillows at the headboard and there was an attached bathroom.  The room was incredibly nice.  The man pointed to the lantern on a small stove in the corner of the room and asked me if I had matches.  At that point, I realized there was no electricity where we were.  Well, that made sense…  I told him I had a lighter, thanked him and he left me to go back to his room.  I washed my face, undressed and crawled into a bed that was so perfect and so soft that I am not sure how it managed to get to this country.

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3 Responses

  1. Jennifer says:

    Interesting! I want to go to Lesotho. Just checked your Facebook page as well. Love your photos!

  2. Britney says:

    Hello my name is Britney and I just wanted to send you a quick note here to say that I have really enjoyed your writing about your time in Lesotho! Such a great country!

  3. Clara says:

    So great. I was in Mokhotlong a few years ago and it was one of the most awesome places I have ever visited!

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