Saying goodbye to our home for the past week in Clarens, wasn’t really that tough. We were excited to be heading back into Lesotho with two working bikes. We pack and head back through the border that we have come to know pretty well. Our fingers are crossed this is the last time we will cross here!
Before we meander our way further into the country, we stop in Buthe Buthe to get fuel and water at the first petrol station we see. Fuel, yes, water no – errrr say what? I stood by our bikes waiting patiently while Mike followed directions to find water. That in itself was odd in Africa – everything you want is generally within arms reach. While I waited I looked around, a few people greeted me with a quick “hello”, some extending the greeting to “good afternoon sir”, they never stopped to chat further which suited my mood. I prefered to just watch the township move about me. Even though our stay in South Africa was short, I was shocked to see the dry dusty roads clogged with rubbish. After a considerable amount of time, Mike returned with what seemed like the last couple of bottles of water in the whole village. As I packed them away on my bike, I couldn’t help but wonder what they were drinking.
We hit the road, with a vague plan in our head. If we get tired, we can just stop in Maseru (a mere 124 km away + African drive time) and if we feel like carrying on, lets head to Roma where a local guide book states is pretty nice place to camp. The road was busy, but in perfect condition. It meandered through the countryside and gave us a great impression of Lesotho in the fast lane. Which was completely opposite to where we had originally entered into the country through Sani Pass.
Even without a map or a GPS in front of me, I could tell from the buzz around me we were on the fringes of Maseru. As the typical chaotic Africa traffic intensified I was forced to keep an eye on my motorcycle’s temperature gauge, knowing my bike too well. It hates slow moving traffic like this and tends to overheat in the blink of an eye. Lucky for us, just when I thought it was time to let my bike take some time out, we came across a beautiful petrol station. It stood out like a holy grail, all new and shiny. We brought more fuel knowing that good clean fuel will soon be hard to come by. I wheeled my bike over to an empty carpark and disappeared inside the cool air conditioned shop. I just wished I could roll my bike in here, it would have sped up the cooling down!
I returned to our bikes with some snacks, only to find Mike being chatted up to by some grubby children selling biscuits and chewing gum out of a box strapped to their shoulders. They reminded me of the posters of 50’s roller waitress holding their trays in front of them, only in rags and covered in dust. We all sat down on the curb, in two groups: us and the kids. We sat watching each other with curiosity. The kids talked amongst themselves, every now and then you could guess what they were saying about us. We decided to get out of the city and carry on to Roma. Its much nicer to spend our time in Lesotho’s countryside rather than in the grimy city.
By the time we finished our soft drink, my bike had recovered as well. We hit the traffic and made it out the other side without another unwanted break. Just like we watched Maseru appear only an hour before, it disappeared slowly and Lesotho’s true beauty came out once again as we were back in the clean, green country side. We arrived late in the afternoon, and unannounced to the guesthouse. The ladies in charge didn’t have much to say to us, they just got their money and showed us where to camp and buy food to cook with. We sat in the kitchen, with our lousy uncomforting meal and quietly ate it. We always tell ourselves never to trust a guidebook, but sometimes you fall for it. Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful place, but sometimes, you just want a cold beer and a nice meal and when you don’t get either, a little bit of satisfaction slips away. If only, it could be perfect every night.
In the morning we discover the common room, the honesty beer fridge and the comment book. In it I discovered that the owners were away, no wonder no one was friendly or helpful, they were just being typical workers just worrying about themselves since they didn’t have anyone overseeing them. I think if the owners were here, it would be a magical place to stay – maybe next time!
We pack early and hit the road after breakfast and a quick stop at the supermarket. While Mike was inside the small corner store, getting emergency supplies as we do not plan to spend the night again in Lesotho but you never know… I stood by the bikes and observing the people around me. One overweight woman, danced along to music blaring from a car stereo alone. Another hissed what seemed to me like cat calls across the street to a group of young men. Men and women sat segregated in small groups chatting to themselves. A few in the metal bus shelter and then there was one blonde backpack with her massive bag looking completely out of place. I had to laugh at her then at myself, as I must also look alien in this surrounding with all my motorcycle gear on.
Mike and I plotted a route that would take us through and spit us out on the other side of the Lesotho through a minor border crossing. We hope to leave the asphalt roads behind us and see more dirt – even some off road action wouldn’t go amiss! You know the stuff Lesotho is known for in the motorcycling communities here in Southern Africa. Our fingers crossed, not for our bikes but for our dreams and what Lesotho will bring to us today.