My first impressions of Lesotho were brown, a lot of brown, sprinkled with little specks of bright colours, like candy coated buttons on a caramel cake.
In retrospect, this perspective was right, as the vast mountainous highlands areas do appear brown at first sight. It is only on closer inspection that you see green brush, goats, sheep and birds and all kinds of wriggly and crawly things. However, the little specks of colour were in fact shepherds wondering through lonely terrain, all swaddled tightly in bright blankets
We all want to believe that the tribal dance in the village we travel so far to see is more “real” than the one performed at dinner at the airport hotel. We want to believe that the bread we had at the small Basotho village is more “authentic” than the overpriced snack that tourists pay for at the Waterfront markets.
Today authenticity has become the goal and measure of travel. “Real” travellers are avoiding expensive, posed tourist attractions, preferring to wander off the “beaten track”. Many avoid the “touristy” places and are discerning about wanting to have ‘real’ cultural experiences.
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”
In Underberg night skies resemble a massive, startling kaleidoscope. Skies are darker at higher altitudes because the higher you are the less light pollution and haze affects the atmosphere. This is the reason why during the day the skies in this area are so remarkably blue but at night the added darkness magnifies the entire cosmos and the clarity is astounding. This is such a perfect area to see the eclipse on Friday evening.
As you stare at the sky on Friday night bear a thought of touring our part of the world soon, to stand on the Roof of Africa.
10 September 2018 – 11:13
A Lesotho myth as told to me by a young Basotho boy.
At the top of the Sani Pass lies a sleeping dragon. He sprawls across the top of the pass, his scales rippling in the harsh winds and his snoring quietly echoing through the mountains. His long dappled tail bends sharply all the way down the mountain and within the pointed rectangular tip lies the base of the Pass.
Occasionally the dragon will awake. He then lifts his huge head and sniffs the air expectantly and suddenly piercing the silence with ear splitting roars. The thunder flashes across the hills and the valleys and the children quiver at the sound.
“The San believe that rain is caused by an animal that flies across the sky, which when captured, is brought to the land requiring rain, it is then cut so that its blood can “rain” over the land. Kaggen, the mantis, it is said threw up into the air the moon which was his shoe. He also had a pet eland, his wife was a dassie (rock rabbit) and an adopted daughter was a porcupine” (it was believed that the stars were shining porcupines dotted in the sky). http://www.sahistory.org.za/article/rock-art