September 30, 2006

LesothoToday was the final day of the trek. Rosemary slept well but Paul had violent stomach cramps, so didn’t eat any breakfast. We left at 7:30 am with Paul riding on the “ambulance” horse. At first we went up a well-graded trail, but before long we were at a little saddle. From here we descended several hundred metres down a steep rocky trail. Not really what you would choose for your first ride on a horse!

As we got near the bottom, we came to a village with neat huts, well-ploughed fields and the usual smiling children. We met a group of three women carrying their loads; one of them had a child’s umbrella that looked like a bumblebee. We also met some men carrying long pieces of construction lumber up the trail. The only way to get material into the mountain villages is to carry it there on the back of either a horse or a person.

At the bottom of the rocky trail we came out on a road which led through an agricultural area. Here the villages were more urbanized; instead of stone rondavels, they had buildings made of concrete cinder blocks and corrugated tin roofs. They were also more spread out than the mountain villages. They had cafés, which were usually windowless cinder-block buildings with rap music blaring out. And there were schools and even police cars.

Paul was almost sleeping on the horse as it walked along the road, but not quite. About 10:30 we came to the trucks, which were there to drive us back to Malealea Lodge if we wanted. Naturally Paul didn’t want to trek another two or three hours in today’s hot sun, even on a horse, and Rosemary didn’t mind riding in the truck either. Heather, Christine, Madelaine and some others rode back as well.

Shortly after we started off Paul had to throw open the window and vomit (later receiving compliments on his projectile vomiting style). Sitting in the front seat prevented a repeat of that. The road back to Malealea was up and down valleys, through numerous villages, and back across the Makheleng River, this time on a road bridge. It seemed an awfully long way back to the lodge.

This time we got rondavel #2, which was at the end and had a nice mountain view. We collected our gear and settled in. After throwing out the socks he had been wearing for the last four days—having omitted to take clean socks on the trek—Paul lay down to rest while Rosemary washed out some of our dirtier clothing. We had showers and washed our hair and felt better immediately.

Rosemary went up to the lodge for lunch, which was noodles with meat sauce and salad, while Paul slept for a couple of hours. The group that had chosen to walk all the way was still not back, so we were glad we had taken the ride. Rosemary and Heather went down to the craft shop in the village, where Rosemary bought some little dolls in traditional Basotho clothing. Then she and Christine and Brenda went down to the shop again; by then it was closed but they managed to find the shop lady to open up again. Rosemary bought another doll and some agave jelly, and Brenda also bought one of the dolls. The handicraft shop did quite well from our group.

Before dinner time we went up to the lodge and sat on the porch with Craig, Charl, and Mick, one of the owners of the lodge. Dinner was at 7 pm and it was curried chicken, rice, fresh green beans, and squash, but Mick had some toast made for Paul instead. Dessert was the same as the first night, orange raisin cake with custard sauce. After dinner Paul went back to the rondavel and Rosemary sat talking with Sally for a while.

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