Day 21 – Place Of Smoke (Part 1)

04/03/’17

What a day? I wake up and it’s pouring outside. The weather was perfect, since I arrived in Lesotho. Now, on my first day off. It is raining. Well, I’m not going to let this stop me. I grab my jacket, pull the rain cover over my backpack, and head outside. I find Miriam outside as well. “Are we still going in this rain?” she asks me. I reply with a definite yes. I tell her that she doesn’t have to join me if she doesn’t want to. But she’s game, so we get a cab into town. We will try to hitchhike to Maseru. The very first car that passes, picks us up. He takes us all the way to Maseru. Now we have to get a ride to Roma. Again, the very first car picks us up. Wow. I guess it really pays to hitchhike with a blonde European girl. It’s never this easy when I do it alone.

We only get a ride to the Roma turn-off though. From here it takes about 4 or 5 cars before we get a hit. Still pretty easy. This time, we are on the back of a pickup… In the pouring rain. They take us to a village a few kilometers after Roma. This is where our luck seems to end. It’s not that we can’t get a ride, it’s just that there are absolutely no cars on the road. We head to a small tavern next to the road and ask them if we can please sit inside to escape the rain. We will look for cars from here and run outside when we see something. That’s the plan. Well, we sit in here for what may have been an hour and still no cars, aside from the occasional taxi, and all of them are full. Not to mention that they charge a fortune.

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Eventually we decide to just try our luck at walking and maybe getting something further on. The rain has calmed to a light drizzle and we take a chance. Not long before a taxi shows up. They are not going to Semonkong but apparently they can take us to a place where we will get a ride much easier. So we get in and pay M15 each. Not too bad. While we are in the taxi, it starts raining much harder again. They stop only a few kilometers on, next to the same road. This is as far as the taxi goes. I don’t understand how we will get an easy ride here. If there were no cars a few kilometers back, there certainly won’t be any cars here, right?

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The views are amazing

The taxi driver tells us to remain in the taxi because it is raining, he will find us a ride. Before we know it, the drive comes running up to the taxi. He found us a ride. This time we make it all the way to Semonkong. They do charge us a fee of M28 though. Even more than a taxi would’ve charged us. We are so grateful to have mad it here that we just shut up and pay. Now we still have to make it to the waterfall…. And back home again…

But first. We need food. One of the locals takes us to a small building next to a gravel road full of horses and donkeys. This is the restaurant she tells us. There’s nothing but few tables and chairs inside. No customers either. We don’t even get a choice on what we want to eat. We get “Papa and Marogo”, or “Pap en Marog” like we would call it in South Africa. This is the only thing you get too eat in Lesotho. Unless you are really rich and can afford to eat at fancy restaurant. But for poor travelers like us, that’s about our only choice.  Usually the Marogo are quite good. Here it tastes like grass. Believe me, I know what grass tastes like. And we get a very large plate for only M30, about a quarter of it is filled with Marogo and the rest of the plate is occupied by a whole heap of dry papa.

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The inside of the restaurant

After the lovely meal. We head towards Semonkong Lodge. This is where the hike to the waterfall starts. We get a map and some bad directions and off we go. We are told that it is an hour’s walk to the waterfall. The trail passes through a couple of villages and every now and then we just ask if we are still on the right track. It’s still raining and by now we are soaking wet. The trail is nothing but a muddy trench in between hundreds of rocks and stones. The mud sticks to our shoes and by now, both of us are covered almost up to our knees in mud. I can feel the mud in between my toes since both my shoes and my socks are full of holes. We cross a few creeks, through another village and into a corn field. When we get to the other side of the field, we are greeted with the most beautiful view into a deep gorge. No waterfall yet but we know we must be close. This view is already worth it all. We have to walk around the side of the gorge to the viewpoint. Just a few hundred meters more…. To be continued 😀

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