I recently had the most intriguing experience of joining a family with their 5 year old son on a private tour up the Sani Pass. On arrival the parents stood sedately to one side clutching armfuls of warm jackets and passports.
A loud whine suddenly shattered the peace and a little fair haired boy with his arms spread wide, came screeching like a fighter jet through the carpark. In one motion he catapulted into the passenger seat and hopped up and down yelling “Yay, yay, yay we’re going up the mountain today”
Luckily Elias was our guide, he is known as one of the top guides on the Pass for a reason, as he takes every situation in his stride. Before we drove away he knew the little boy’s name, age, his dog’s name and which school he attended. Then the questions began, pointing with glee at each and every button, gear lever, air vent and contraption on the dashboard, Luke wanted to know what it was and what it did and most importantly why?
The hazy morning suddenly warmed up with his delight and infectious chuckle. Elias began pointing out landmarks and spoke about the history of the surroundings but remarkably at a level to which Luke related. Each rock began to look like a soldier or a fish or even a round pot. The imagination had no bounds and soon all of us were seeing dinosaurs and dragons on each mountain.
Luke had no fear, shouting in abandon as we rounded the switchbacks with total trust he encouraged Elias further into the wilderness. All of us were caught up in the moment when Luke screamed. “Stop, stop, stop”. Elias slammed on the breaks and pulled over as we all whiplashed around to see the cause of the shrill demand. Luke begged to get out and dragged Elias to a small dusty patch where a little yellow flower was struggling to push through the ground. “Look, look” he said “It’s Spring, there’s a flower”.
When we passed through the Lesotho border he ran to a spot of melting snow and threw himself on the ground, ruffled the ice and made a snow angel.
However the best experience of all was at the Basotho village. He was in awe of the fire in the middle of the floor of the hut and wanted to see the plug where it could be switched on and off. His Mom quietly explained that there was no electricity and this is how these Basotho people live. His eyes lit up, “Cool, he said, you’re allowed to make a fire in your own house!’
Eventually the need of nature took over and I quietly took him outside. I hastily made my way towards the only tree I could see but turned around only to see him standing on top of a rock excitedly making patterns in the dust with a careful aim.
He then spotted a group of locals squatting in the lukewarm spring sun and dashed across to join them. The children huddled over stones on the ground chatting animatedly despite the fact that they did not speak English and he spoke no Sotho. They then exchanged shoes and ran after each other.
A crow flew overhead and Luke ran in it’s shadow shouting “Wait, wait for me’.
When the time came to go there were no sad goodbyes just a quick wave and off we headed.
Lunch was reserved at the Highest Pub but he ate all the peanuts from the next table and then went to play with the guides.
When we returned down the steep wonders of this world heritage site he snuggled up next to me and promptly fell asleep. His polite family fought sleep as full tummies and high altitude took its toll.
When we got back he woke up and said it had been the best day of his life. Ever!
You can be whatever you want to be! If you are excited you should run around like a jet plane and wave your arms. However the thought of a large group of mature tourists running around the carpark flapping their arms could be somewhat daunting.
Be enthusiastic about everything and ask lots of questions until you are satisfied with the answers.
Let your imagination run riot and be silly, laugh and see pictures on the horizon and make snow angels just because you can.
Be interested and entranced by other people’s lives no matter how different from your own.
Every person is a possible new friend and just because a crow can fly doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with it. The world is full of possibilities
Swop your shoes with someone you don’t know. They may have more need for them than you do.
It doesn’t matter what other people think of you, eat peanuts when you’re hungry and go to sleep when you’re tired. Wake up full of energy and excited about the next adventure.
But most of all, always see Spring in the middle of the snow.