It was time. I was saying my goodbyes to my parents, grandparents, brothers and sister all of whom were wearing very nervous faces... nervous but excited. Pulling out of the drive way I bumped my little brothers car. "Oops, that wasn't a good start" is all I said while I continued out the drive and around the corner.
My first planned stop would be Kokstad which is close on 200km away from Margate. It would be perfect to test how far I could go on my 6 liter tank of petrol. As I say maybe my planning wasn't so good. 196km... that will do. The test included a trip through Oribi Gorge. Not a very spectacular place... when you're in a car. Scooters allow you to see everything. Not only are you higher than most cars but you experience your surroundings rather than see them. It is a beautiful gorge.
My first night in Kokstad was pretty lonely. There wasn't much to do in Kokstad so a night of watching SABC 1, 2, and 3 was in order.
I decided that night to change my route. I wanted to get into Lesotho as soon as possible which meant I would be heading up Quashas Nek pass. The road wasnt tarred. Instead it was like driving up Brighton beach. Large sharp stones. I imagine my little scooter tyres didnt enjoy them. The views going up into the Maluti Mountains were beautiful. I was able to make the most of them as this road didnt allow for fast riding. At one stage I think I was over taken by a heard of sheep who were in no particular rush either.
I arrived at the Lesotho boarder. This was another test. I hadn't bothered to get a drivers license for the bike. I thought my Learners License would be fine. I did have my car drivers license... but how effective would that be when riding a bike. No problems at the border. I was relieved. The guard at the boom was very interested in my scooter. He had never seen a scooter get up this pass before.
I decided to pull over for a beer in Quashas Nek Tavern. A Shebeen. I shared my Maluti's with 3 locals, Vincent, Elijia and Tusane. Well before I knew it I was in no state to ride. Vincent offered me a bed in his house. I accepted and offered to pay but he wouldnt have it. It was considered disrespectful. Elijia then took me out for supper. A plate of mince and a plate of 'pup' shared by 4. We had spoons which was a surprise. After a few more beers we decided to call it a night. Vincent didn't realise that I had eaten and had made sure there was food on the table. A whole chicken and I mean a whole chicken. I was still full from Elijia mince and now I had to eat a chicken. I managed with difficulty and with difficulty I didn't show it.
I was worried about my scooter being parked outside. They told me I shouldn't worry. The crime in Lesotho was virtually nonexistent and also that Elijia house mate was a policeman. They really could have told me that before I drove my scooter back from the pub. Yes, I was drunk. After a goodnight pee in there outhouse I was out like a rock.
Next day I woke up with a bit of a headache. A shower would really have help but they bucket of water I bathed would have to do. I made my way toward Maseru with no real plan on where I would be staying. The way the roads zig-zaged through the Maluti mountains was beautiful. The views were spectacular. I just couldn't believe I had never been here before. And then the rain came down. It was freezing and I could hardly see. I pulled over and waited. The rain finally stopped and I carried on until I was stopped by 2 policeman. WOuld my learners license be a problem. Yes... yes it would! A problem a R100 could surely fix. Yes... yes it was. So R100 out of pocket I carried on. Lesotho is beautiful.
I eventually got to Maseru and found a place to stay. The old lady who ran the place was very sweet and gave me a discounted price. I told her what I was doing. Her response was different to the others I had received back home. "Are you not worried about lions?" she asked. I replied with a naive laugh. The truth is I didn't know how wild Africa really was. If it was like South Africa or Zimbabwe I wouldn't seen anything more than a monkey or 2. Concerns from my white friends in South Africa were about my safety from locals. Concerns from my recently made black friends was my safety from animals.
The next day I would leave Lesotho and head for my cousins place in Bloemfontein. Lesotho is a beautiful place with beautiful people.