Tuesday April 21, 2015 (Africa, Lesotho, South Africa)
Today was a big driving day! We were starting off not too far from the Lesotho border… so why not try our hand at running into the country?
Sidenote: once should pronounce Lesotho like "Leh-suu-tuu". We have it on good authority.
We made our way to the border crossing closest to Maseru: the capital of Lesotho. We parked the car and wandered across the bridge and through the pedestrian crossing. The border crossing itself was quick and painless, and before we knew it we had entered the Kingdom of Lesotho. It’s really a kingdom. They have a king! It’s a bit strange that the country is entirely surrounded by South Africa. An island within a country.
We didn’t have much time as we had tons of driving ahead of us, so we decided to patronize some local stalls and see if we couldn’t grab some appropriate Lesotho swag. We met Keke and Tebelo who were happy to sell us a bag full of Lesotho-branded clothing! It’s really interesting: you couldn’t so much ask for separate sizes in the clothing because every piece was hand made from what appeared to be used clothing. I guess they buy up blank T-shirts and sweaters, paint Lesotho-y things on them, then sell them to crazy tourists like us! I love it!
When crossing back into South Africa, the border guard noticed I was from Canada. “Toronto?” he asked? “Yes!”, I confirmed.
“I know people from Toronto, and they like house music.” “I write electronic music!” “Really? So you’re a producer?” “Yeah!” “Cool, I’m a DJ” “Do you have a SoundCloud account?” … the conversation continues
Meanwhile, there’s a lineup of 30 people behind me waiting to get through this single border agent. I felt bad, but now we’re Facebook friends. Successful border transition, in my opinion.
We stopped off in Clarens for a break from the driving. It’s considered to be a very beautiful little town with lots of fun shops and restaurants. We strolled into the Clarens Brewery and tried some microbrews from them, including cherry, apple, and pineapple ciders all made in house. Everything except the pineapples is sourced from their farm not 10km from the brewery itself! Tasty stuff.
We got a recommendation from them for a local pizza place called Mosaic. I was feeling adventurous and ordered the wrap, whilst Sandra, Dave and Ivy all went for the pizza. Almost as soon as we’d ordered, the power went out. This is not uncommon here in South Africa as load shedding becomes more and more frequent. We’d already experienced it before, but each business has their own way of dealing with it. Here, we were given oil lamps for the table and to light the bathroom with. The pizzas were all wood fired, so there were no problems there. Everybody loved their pizzas. My wrap was… mediocre. Now everybody keeps talking about how tasty it was and stupid Ian had to order the wrap. Ugh.
We continued onward to the Bergview area, which is just east of the Drakensberg mountain range that borders Lesotho on the eastern side. We’d found a great place there called Cayley Lodge that had wonderful views of the mountains. We didn’t actually get to witness those until morning, but we trusted they were there.
One last entertaining moment was trying to find the place. It’s on a small rural road. Somebody in our car spotted “Cayley View”, and in we drove through the guarded gate. The guard didn’t speak much english at all and pointed us to continue on down the road. “Reception?”… “No. There.” He points and we drive into the darkness. After reaching what appears to be the end of the road, we’re unable to find anything approaching a reception. I’m considering knocking on doors, but no indoor lights are on in any of these cabins. Finally we decide to go back to the gate just to check. I show the guard the reservation. “Oh. Cayley Lodge. Next Door. This is Cayley View.” Oops. Not long after we were settled into our swanky little chalet cabin and off to sleep.