Lesotho: The Land of Refuge for the Vuvuzela-Weary. Four Days of Peace and Quiet? Maybe not exactly…

Surely we were the only Americans fleeing South Africa during the World Cup.

South African coworkers at our NGO announced it was inane for us to take a trip to Lesotho, what with all the World Cup hooplah going on all around us, insisting, it is here. It is here, indeed, I snorted, citing a recent experience watching a game at one of our local restaurants in Observatory where we live in Cape Town. Every fourteen seconds or so, the clever patron at the next table over dedicated himself to honking his vuvuzela directly into my left ear. The short flight from Cape Town to Bloemfontein followed by ninety minutes in the rental car to the border crossing into Maseru was a small price to pay for my eardrum’s convalescence. Moreover, my travel comrades, who have been living for years already in South Africa, were pleased to have a break from the soccer tourists.

I’m not sure one can call any site in Lesotho “touristy,” but of course we stopped off at well-known places like King Moshoeshoe’s grave on top of Thaba Bosiu with its views of Mount Qiloane, the inspiration for the traditional Basotho hat, and checked out the tiny country’s various sets of dino footprints. But we wanted more; we wanted to see places only the locals know about, so we hired Jack to take us on a hike to see the views. He is not the only young Mosotho person making effective use of his time—it seemed all Lesotho’s children were busy working, whether shucking piles of corn, pumping water, shoeing horses, or proudly showing off their wares.

Speaking of Lesotho’s youth, I get the feeling they knew we were coming. They had all gotten the memo about the three Americans who seemed unaware that there were some important soccer matches going on in South Africa. We didn’t see any foreigners apart from ourselves during our four-day trip, and it was as if the children retrieved coordinates as to our location either via satellite or smoke signals. Regardless of how they gathered their intel, it was uncanny how they appeared to have arranged themselves hours before our arrival at each significant bend in the road, particularly at the Gates of Paradise mountain pass on the untrustworthy potholed dirt road into Malealea and the steep grades leading towards the Katse Dam. Without fail they were ready for the ambush each time our 2-wheel drive Kia Picanto would putt-putt its way up a near-vertical pitch as Pat would drop our sweet ride down into 1st gear. Galloping down from the hills as if materializing out of thin air, the children swarmed our car, brazenly demanding “sweets,” “money,” and Laura’s boots. Laura’s lesson on deductive reasoning with the children as to why they couldn’t just take her boots off her feet, as they were the only shoes she had brought on the trip was in vain; completely dissatisfied with her logic, the children subsequently became more interested in hollering and banging on my window in the back seat. The kicker in Lesotho is this—just as the kids on one side of the car start to tire out, you think you’re home free, and you experience a premature sense of relief. Then out of the corner of your eye you catch a glimpse out the window on the other side of the car and realize a Mosotho boy accompanied by an unassuming cow has been gazing expectantly at you for the past several minutes.

The most amusing part was that the kids got all indignant each time it became clear that we truthfully didn’t have any candy in the car. A road trip without candy, how absurd. One girl was about to fall over standing on her tippie-toes to get a good scan through the car’s interior. No candy, but then she exclaimed, “Hand over those Simbas!” when she saw our bag of chips with the cartoon lion on the front. We showed her the bag was already empty, and by this point, a whole nine minutes had gone by. If you think brushing off a few children with upturned palms is no big deal, then you haven’t been in the middle of a cluster of the nearly professional Basotho children hustlers.

Sure the whole debacle with the children a.k.a. roadblocks might sound tiresome, but our jaunt in Lesotho was revitalizing—we neither saw nor heard even one vuvuzela.

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2 Comments on “Lesotho: The Land of Refuge for the Vuvuzela-Weary. Four Days of Peace and Quiet? Maybe not exactly…”

  1. Dorthy March 22, 2013 at 15:54 #

    Hurrah! At last I got a blog from where I know how to actually obtain useful data regarding my study and knowledge.

    • Marisa LaValette March 23, 2013 at 16:02 #

      Hi Dorthy,

      Thank you so much for reading! This article about Lesotho is actually one of my favorite pieces I have ever written, because I wanted to share with the readers the wonderful first impressions on my first visit to Lesotho.

      Have you ever been there? It has some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.

      Have you had a similar travel experience?

      Stay tuned for future posts about my most recent road trip through Mexico.

      Thanks for commenting. Don’t forget to subscribe!

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