Beautiful Gate Lesotho

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Lesotho surprised us. We knew it was mountainous, but we didn’t expect how mountainous.  We went up and down, and up and down, all generally between 1,000m and 3,400m above sea level. The cosmos flowers bloomed pink and white, men wrapped in blankets and wearing gumboots and balaclavas waved at us, kids asked for sweets on their walk to school, (right next to a major road – no parents in sight) and it was simply beautiful.

However what surprised us most was visiting Beautiful Gate Lesotho. We were dirty, dusty and tired after much (stressful, old landy related) time on the road, and Lindiwe and Peter welcomed us like old friends. They gave us accomodation with comfortable beds and amazing showers.

Beautiful Gate is an orphanage, currently looking after approximately 70 children.  It is unique, most countries don’t run orphanages, as kids are put straight into foster care. However Lesotho does not have this infrastructure.   A third of the kids have HIV, and many fall behind their developmental milestones.

They are divided into three houses: Khotso, meaning peace. Pula meaning rain, and Nala meaning prosperity. Lindiwe gave us a tour and we were blown away by the size, the soft play rooms, the competent medical facility, the outside playground and the sympathetic memorial to children who have passed away.

Most touching of all,was the children singing to us, then coming for high fives. My children were shocked that they didn’t own their own clothes, and had no toys to call their own. But yet the children were the happiest kids we had ever met.

We were inspired by all of the people that we met there.  Eleanor interviewed two of the long term volunteers, Jennie and Marissa. She was so inspired that she wrote a letter to Prince Harry.

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We don’t normally ask for donations for charitable causes, but should you have any spare cash Beautiful Gate is completely worthy.  We personally saw that the money is put to good use, no hint of sparkly new Land Cruisers being badly driven over mountain passes (ahem, Red Cross and World Vision…). So as you get stuck into your Easter eggs, click the link below.  Every pound/dollar/rand/whatever really does help.

www.givengain.com/c/bgl/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sehlabathebe National Park

We did a lot of bumpy roads to get to Sehlabathebe National Park. We camped next to an old lodge. The next day we did a really long walk. Daddy said it was the same as a half marathon! (21km)

We were trying to find Tsoelikanyane waterfall, but we got a bit lost. The path wasn’t very clear and there were no signs. Finally we found it! Daddy threw a rock and we counted to 4 before we saw it splash.

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On the way back to the car Daddy nearly stood on a snake. It hissed at him. When we checked in our animal book, it looked like a Mozambique Spitting Cobra!! It was a bit scary.  We also found a porcupine spike. We were looking for a bearded vulture but the birds in the sky were up too high to see properly.

In the afternoon we looked around some of the rocks. They were very cool.  Some were like caves and had stone walls underneath. Some of the walls were for a house and others were a corral for animals. On the top of the rock you could see where the water had worn through. There was an arch, and one really big rock that looked like a table!

I saw a rainbow, it was beautiful. Then we headed back to Durban.

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Thaba Bosiu & Kome Caves

Today we had a very busy day. We first went to Thaba Bosiu, the mountain where King Moshoeshoe I started Lesotho. He joined together 16 clans. Each clan was represented by a different thing.  Like elephant; crocodile; hare; spider; wild cat; pet cat; pumpkin; cloud. There was a tradional village there and the guide showed us the differences between the clan houses.  The stone wall rondavels came from the Irish.

Traditional bushmen rondavels were made all of stone and had a low entrance. The were so low that I couldn’t get in unless I slid on my tummy in the mud. The entrance is low to make it easy to defend. Any animal or bad guy coming in has to duck its head and the bushmen can hit it with a club.

We also learnt how to play the shepherds game. It is a bit like the noughts and crosses and connect 4 games.  You have 12 pieces and you try and get 3 in a row. If you do, you can take off one of the other players pieces.

King Moshoeshoe I:

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After that we did a dirt track to the Kome Caves. The caves were another overhang but in the 1800’s the people had made some walls out of mud/clay. There are three grandmothers that still live there! One is 89, one is 84 and one is 64. We were allowed to go into their houses. The biggest house had a real bed, a shelf of food and a gas cooker. But in the other houses the grandmothers slept on mats on the floor. There were some bushmen paintings on the ceiling, but because of all the smoke from the fires, they have disappeared. There were lots of children there, from Maseru, who were learning how to cook over fire. I tried to use the grinding stone, but it was hard. We also learnt that there were some cannibals that lived near by. Cannibals are people who eat other people!

On the way back to Maseru, we stopped at a weaving place. There were lots of wall hangings and we saw a guy making a floor mat. He said it would take 3 weeks to finish.

Leribe Craft Centre and Katse Dam

We went to the Leribe Craft Centre and a lady gave us a tour. They sell blankets, wall hangings, scarves and things made from mohair wool.  The lady showed us where they comb the raw mohair and spin it in to wool.  The spinning wheels were all made from bicycle wheels! We also saw lots of looms where they make the blankets and scarves.  It is all done by hand. We also saw where they wash and dye the wool.

Then we drove to the Katse village. We went over the Mafika Lisiu Pass. But the taniwha got too hot, so we had to stop and let it cool down. There were lots of people walking on the road. Some had sheep/goats/cows or donkeys.  Some women carried big sacks on their heads! There was lots of fields of maize, which is a bit like corn. In lots of places there were pretty pink and white flowers, that are called cosmos.

The Katse dam was huge, it goes over a big canyon with a small river on one side and a big lake on the other.

Then we drove to Maseru, the capital of Lesotho.