Malealea Lodge is set in the quaintly called Valley of Paradise that’s about 2200 metres high.
To get to it, after travelling on what can only be described as the ‘road from hell’, 13 kilometres of potholes loose rock and shifting gravel, you have to travel through the “Gates of Paradise”.
This is a pass with such a beautiful vista, that a guy called Mervyn Smith left the words “Wayfarer Pause and Look Upon a Gateway of Paradise” inscribed on a plaque.
Mervyn also founded the Malealea trading post so I guess you could accuse him of being a little bit one eyed.
Even so the view is magnificent and gives the feeling that you are entering a secret valley of gentle rolling hills with a dramatic backdrop of mountains and storm clouds, hidden over the centuries by the locals from the mass commercialism of the white man.
As we stood absorbed by all of this, one of those buses that can only be found in the third world, charged up the hill towards us and came to an abrupt stop amongst it’s own clouds of diesel fumes.
This was the local bus stop and this vehicle was unloading some of it’s cargo of bags, people, children, chooks, goats and anything else that could hang onto the outside or be crammed into the interior, there were even two guys on the roof!
Before I had time to point the camera it was off again, incredibly still jammed packed and leaving behind clouds of black smoke and some of the cutest kids that have ever been put on this earth.
Three of these kids came up to talk us, which we thought was so nice until they stretched out the palm and asked for money or “sweets”.