African shoestrings – Lesotho Day Fifteen

That tricky river crossing was the final challenge and can you believe it wee stopped for lunch about ten minutes from there!
We just wanted to get it over and done with!
David & Clement had been unable to talk to each other as much because of David having to spend a fair amount of time controlling the now impatient and eccentric Black Label. So we figured that they wanted to have a final ‘chat’ before heading home.
The crossing was actually no big deal going back. This time we were climbing the steeper side of the gorge and it’s a lot more comfortable looking up than down. For me riding a sure-footed and obedient pony made a big difference.

We got back at around 1.30 pm and despite feeling dirty and dusty we headed for the bar and stayed there for the rest of the afternoon.

The next day we headed out back to South Africa.

The road was pretty much the same until we reached Maseru.
To avoid the city centre we had to travel along the eastern outskirts. Even though we had been assured that there was no danger by almost everyone, this area seemed uncomfortably close to the spot where all the rioting had happened 6 months ago. We passed several buildings that had been gutted by fire or looting and appeared to be sitting there unused and ignored.
But we never felt threatened by the many people who were going about their business not in the least bit interested in two potentially nervous white tourists.

What did make us uncomfortable was a lone policeman standing in the road waving us down. You hear lots of stories of corrupt African police officials extorting money from helpless tourists in exchange for not impounding their vehicle, luggage, children or anything else that’s worth them confiscating.
He examined the tax disc on the front of the car very closely as if it was strange flaw in the windscreen. His face lit up on viewing my Australian drivers licence and said beaming, “Aha, from Australia! Kangaroo!” We laughed with him at this obviously witty and perceptive comment not realising at the time that this was going to be repeated many times by what seems now to be an army of officials, bureaucrats, tour guides, hotel workers and any other smart arse that inadvertently wanted to piss us off!
He waved us on politely still beaming at his joke.

Women cleaning the outside of a mud hut near Malealea Lesotho

Women cleaning the outside of a mud hut near Malealea Lesotho

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African shoestrings – South Africa Day four

At Rustlers Valley Guest Lodge, we met the occupants, neighbours and anyone else who seemed to materialise from time to time (we were the only guests) at dinner that night.
There was Dale the local naturalist and loved snakes.
Birthday boy Carl couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard of some permaculture guru from Australia. I didn’t like to admit that I didn’t even know what permaculture was, let alone have any idea of its personalities!
Then there was Bill who either had a hard life or he was old enough to have been dancing to Glenn Miller let alone Janis Joplin.
There were other refugees of the sixties as well but none as dominant as Frick.
Hippies have always maintained that everyone’s equal and there are no leaders in their ‘gangs’.
Well in this case Frick was without doubt the leader. He just had that look; I would call it the Charles Manson look but that sounds rather sinister. He had the long ponytail and beard and had a sort of holier than thou sort of presence.
When he looked at me I wasn’t sure whether he was going to bless me or offer me a joint! In fact he was actually the owner of Rustlers, so I guess he had some sort of commercial seniority.
Apparently he was a farmer going broke when he decided to build the lodge and change direction. How he became an aging hippie was not explained.
Rustlers are famous, amongst those that care, for their music festivals. We know this because, after the initial polite conversation, the sole topic was the upcoming Easter festival, apparently a sort of South African mini Woodstock.
By the time our beds beckoned we knew all about running festivals and have since mercifully forgotten it all.

An Umbrella Thorn Acacia at sunset on the savannah of South Africa. It's a native to Africa.

An Umbrella Thorn Acacia at sunset on the savannah of South Africa. It’s a native to Africa.