What we loved…
Inviting into Traditional Lives – When traveling Lesotho, you’ll quickly see that many people still live very traditional lives. Huts are still very much the most popular dwelling. The men wander the hillsides herding their sheep, goats, or cows. On the other hand, the women stay home in the self-built huts and cook, tend the garden, brew beer, sew and raise the children. They still practice their own religion – which now has a bit of christian influence, but for the most part is very traditional. It’s awesome to see traditional ways of living preserved like this, and even better in Lesotho because they invite you in for more than just a glimpse – and it feels authentic, unlike some places where they’ve just turned their customs into a tourist attraction.
Highest Pub in Africa – After a few hours of hairpin switchbacks climbing the Sani Pass, you arrive at the Highest Pub in Africa. There you can sit on their deck, enjoy a cold Lesotho beer, look back at the crazy road you just climbed, and enjoy the stunning scenery – all at a higher elevation than any other bar on the continent. What isn’t there to like about that?
Pristine Roads – The journey over the Sani Pass from South Africa is a treacherous system of muddy cliffside hairpins. The second you pass over into Lesotho however, you start driving on a brand new, smooth as can be blacktop. Much like every other poor country in the world, Lesotho has teamed up with China for road work. They’re now in the process of building a pristine country-wide highway system . The roads are brand new, but they may soon be pothole riddled like the rest of Africa. For now anyway, the roads make traveling Lesotho easy and comfortable.
What we didn’t love…
Not a lot of Opportunity – It’s really hard to talk to locals, and have them tell you their sad truth. The education system is terrible, so there’s very little for their children to look forward to in their future. It’s depressing to know that most village kids will grow up to do exactly what their parents do. And that’s a hard road ahead of them.
Alcoholism – I’m pretty sure this has a a lot to do with the lack of opportunity that I just talked about. They don’t have a lot of say over what they become. If you’re born a herder, you’ll die a herder. They work hard, live rough lives, and don’t have any luxuries or entertainment, so they turn to drinking. A typical day might consist of waking up with the sun, working the fields or tending to their herds until noon, heading to the local bar (i.e. a village hut where a local woman sells her home-brewed beer by the tin cup). They drink until they’re out of money, then go back out to tend to their fields and herds until sundown. Work, drink, work, sleep, repeat. Traveling Lesotho is magical, but living there is a totally different story.
We weren’t there long enough to discover anything else we didn’t like.