Star Date:  April 2011


Hello Dear Family & Friends!



(Hello - or literally Peace.  Basotho - Lesotho)





"He walks the plains with hardened feet.  The hunting is good here and the gods generous.  With rocks to shelter, water for life and the African sky to humble him.  This is the bushman's home .......tonight." 



Lesotho, the Kingdom in the Sky.  Mountains rise out of the plains, sentries guarding the 'loveld' that stretches to the horizon.  Crossing the border from South Africa transports you into a land removed.  We breathed a sigh of relief as we discovered that this is a land where fear forgot to visit.  Worries are replaced by genuine smiles.  Electric razor wire fences are replaced by no fences.  Here in the solitude of the mountains the modern day stress and pressures of life have taken a holiday.

Most of this tiny 18,000 sq. mi. country is rolling pastures, zig zags of crops, eroded foothills or soaring mountains.  Heading up towards the peaks you are met with the tinkling of cow bells in the mountain wind.  We inhaled the delicate fragrance of acres carpeted with stunning purple and pink cosmos swaying to the rhythm of the breeze.  Shepherds or herders each have from 4 to 50 goats and cattle under their care.  Armed with a stick and sporting new gum boots these solitary fellows, usually wrapped in a brightly woven wool blanket, hiding under a unique Basotho reed hat, go slowly on their way.  Still a position of esteem, this simple shepherd existence allows for months on end wandering the mountains; just him, his animals and Nature.  Smoke  pours out of the few shepherd's rock huts dotting the mountain sides but mainly these rugged souls just curl up under their blankets and sleep under the phenomenal night skies.  Up here, without a single light piercing the darkness, you can reach out and touch the stars. 

After crossing "God Help Me Pass" Maari Safari decided she had endured enough mountain driving so we pulled over at a little area near a stream.  Up we went scaling the boulders until we found a deep pool, just made for bathing.  We plunged in, luxuriating in the sun warmed pool I even washed my long hair and a few clothes.  Then we basked in the sun, enjoying the panoramic views below.  The next morning we put our chairs out on the edge of the ravine and ate our fruit salad. We sat sipping a hot cup of rooibush herb tea to ward of the chill in the air, relaxing in the calming stillness of the mountains.  Soon a herder bare to the waist strolled by, stood and stared, oblivious to the cool mountain air.  Curious both, we invited him to sit down and poured him a cup of tea.  Katso's herd eating around us, consisted of 51 goats and 17 cows.  We had seen him the evening before.  He had driven his animals straight up the mountain to a little rock ledge and spent the night curled up under his blanket.  With no education he was like a curious little child.  When we told him how breathtaking the mountains were he spread his arms out and exclaimed, "It's big, my home!"  Each season he is given several animals as payment and he carefully guards his new flock along with that of the owners.  At some point he will be able to sell part of his herd, buy land, build a house and get married.  He may someday encourage one of his sons to become a herder as a way to advance in life in this land of little promise.

After an interesting afternoon looking around in the bustling capitol of Maseru we headed back out to the quiet countryside near Roma. We parked out in a field and awoke to a completely flat front tire. Always happens on a weekend!  A helpful farmer went racing away and returned with a bicycle pump!  That was just one example of how helpful everyone is in Lesotho.  Kennedy, a 'rasta' man, stopped by and as soon as we put on our feeble spare tire we followed him to his little backpacker hostel to park until Monday morning, when the tire shops opened.  He and 'mahoa' wife Rose, from Texas, opened a day care for 3-6 year old orphans whose parents had died of Aids, many of whom are HIV positive themselves.  We visited the school the next day surrounded by hordes of little sweethearts wanting hugs and attention.  As with many countries in Africa, conditioned by missionaries, black locals assume that white visitors ought to give them money or gifts, apparent from the insistent begging by young and old alike.  Kennedy was perplexed why foreigners wouldn't just give money towards the school, instead of giving gifts for the children, thus cutting him out of the equation.  People have been very generous with their gifts thus far and the school's children are thriving in this colorful, lively environment. 

It just happened that Kennedy was hosting a gathering of 20 interesting young German volunteers, doing community service in lieu of military service back home.  We enjoyed a fun bonfire, drumming and b.b.q. into the wee hours of the morning.  The next day we hiked down into a deep ravine to see ancient cave paintings of the Bushmen.  The Bushmen are Southern Africa's oldest inhabitants, roaming the land as long ago as the Stone Age.  The following day we had a one of a kind Lesotho experience on the way back from beautiful Mohale Dam (Lesotho's selling of its last resource - water).  Kennedy took a bumpy back road back to a village perched on the side of the mountain.  He had made friends with the people when he spent several years in the area as a young herder.  From the surprised looks on their faces it was obvious that we were the first whites to visit.  They were absolutely spellbound as they watched our every move; invited us to sit round their cooking fires after touring the dark inside of their stone huts, showed us the biltong (dried meat) on the fence, laughed at our photos and chased a balloon in the blustery breeze.  Music plays a major role in their culture and the children treated us to a song and dance.  Life is harsh here, especially in the snowy winters, with surrounding mountains reaching over 3500m or 10,000 feet.  The assimilating hand of modern life hasn't reached into the far mountainous corners of these Basotho villages.  With no electricity, no village ruining TV's, and no reception we only saw one cell phone.  The 'sangoma' or witchdoctor mixes magic and traditional herbs to treat the villagers.  We were told the Basotho are buried sitting up, facing the rising sun, ready to jump up when the time comes.  This is the true origin of the Boy Scout's motto: "Be Prepared".

When small chiefdoms were forced to these lands by tribal warfare and white Boer (Afrikaans) encroachment of their lowlands or 'loveld' in the early 19th century, the Basotho people, led by the legendary King Moshoeshoe the Great, chose to make their stand in the Drakensberg and Maluti Mountains.  Fiercely fighting off all advancing enemies from their secure lofty perches these proud people have remained united as a nation, even through ensuing years of turmoil.  Simple villages abound made of thatched mud huts, 'rondavels', many without water or electricity.  This is a land where hardship is a fact of life: 45% unemployment and a 24 % HIV infection rate.  Every town has a prominent Funeral Home - some even boasting "Express Service!".  Against all odds, smiles abound and genuine warmth greeted us day after day in this proud mountainous kingdom.

And so it goes.........................................Next month Zululand, Durban, &Swaziland.  Until then let's try to enjoy wherever we are, wherever we lay our heads tonight,  thankful we have a place! Thanks for sharing this website with friends and family.  We are excited that over 80,000 readers join us on our trip each month.  That's one hell of a party!  Keep in Touch!  Keep Thankful!  Keep Smiling!



Love, Light & Laughter, 


xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph



Travel notes:

$1.00US = 7 Lesotho malot, (same as South African rand)

The best way to have a great visit to Lesotho is to relax and smile.  Go with the flow and it will be a memorable experience.

The visitor information center in Maseru is a good stop.  Just starting to get organized, these friendly folks will give you their glossy brochure and play a video.

We would just pull off the road, out of the way, and although we would sometimes gather a crowd, it was completely safe.  We were invited to stay, twice, in little round villager's rondavels.   We instead just slept down the road in our van and visited during the day.

In Lesotho you must develop a thick skin to everyone begging or just asking for money.  It is very annoying, but for some reason it is ok in their culture.  Even well dressed people or someone in the line behind you in the grocery store will ask for money or a gift.  We just say, "No, but we can be friends !" (or something similar) and smile.  If they ask for 50, turn around and say, "If you give me 100 I will give you 50."  They laugh.  As we have said many times before we NEVER give money.  It only promotes further begging.  We donate towards education - a long term solution to poverty and future change.










Spectacular views of Mohale Dam.


From the surprised looks on their faces it was obvious that we
were the first whites to visit.


Grinding corn.  This welcoming woman invited us to sit with her and
offered us 'biltong' stew from the bubbling pot simmering over the fire.


Lots of fun playing in this remote Lesotho village.


Biltong - raw meat drying in the sun.  The flies just added flavor.


Knock, knock.  Who's there?


Heading home before dark.


Even a sudden downpour couldn't dampen their spirits.


Our first flat tire. A helpful farmer went racing away and returned
with a bicycle pump! That was just one example of how helpful
everyone is in Lesotho. 


Taking the van tour!  With wide eyes they each got to wash their
hands in our sink then walked away with a tasty apple.



Exploring the cosmos!


Ancient cave paintings of the Bushmen.  The Bushmen are
Southern Africa's oldest inhabitants, roaming the land
as long ago as the Stone Age.


We enjoyed a roaring bonfire, drumming and b.b.q. into the wee
hours of the morning.


These neighborhood kids 'oozed' in slowly from the shadows
 until they were sitting next to me at the fire's edge.


Kennedy and Rose opened a day care for 3-6 year old orphans whose parents had died of Aids, many of whom are HIV positive themselves.


Great 'doo' !


 Music plays a major role in the Lesotho culture and the children
treated us to a song and dance.


Getting to know some women walking along the road.


Hanging around.


We were invited to sit in the shade with Grandma and kids.


Inside the cooking hut.


We were walking along the road and this 'Mama' waved for us to come
down to her farm.  Before we left she invited us to stay the night in
her hut.  We thanked her and had the best big Mama hugs before
 continuing our walk.


Supper bubbling over the fire.


  Ready for the cool evening air.


The donkey is a popular means of transportation.


A tough sign to follow.


The only phone for miles.


A mountain hut surrounded by a carpet of wild cosmos.


Albinos are common throughout the world.


A spectacular place to camp!


Even in the remotest areas we would have visits from kids on
their way home from school.


We were a popular attraction when we rolled into an isolated 
area. Instant party!


Pumping water for the van.  We filter water in a ceramic/silver
gravity filter put out by the Red Cross. 


Wood to cook with, keeping the huts warm on the chilly
mountain evenings.


Another spectacular place to park.


Now that's a bathtub with a view!


We invited Katso, a lone herder, to join us for a cup of rooibush tea.


The traditional Lesotho woven hat is great for sun or rain.


These enthusiastic cooks served us up 'papa'maize polenta, beans,
 greens and beetroot - a local style lunch.


It's impossible to drive fast in Lesotho between the potholes.  Potholes
 are so deep they swallow cars, showing only the top of the last car to
drive over them!  Adding insult to injury, numerous 'traffic calmers'
or enormous speed bumps signposted as"zebra stripe humps" mark
the entrance to many towns.  The only answer is to drive slowly;
 a real problem for South African speed demons.




Back to Homepage