Malealea, Lesotho

Life in the African Kingdom of Heaven


basotho cowboys
Basotho riders on horseback of the tough basuto horses in the traditional hats and blankets of the nation.
The pastor
Tumelo Monare keeping an eye on his large flock of sheep.
granary of the nation
One of Lesotho's many cereal valleys, in the vicinity of Malealea.
equal friends
Two girls at the village school, in the colorful uniforms worn by all the students.
work half done
Monare, at the top of the Makhaleng river valley already with its heavy woodpile.
VW Parking
VW Golf parked between two typical Malealea houses.
easy hiding
Children play among the corn that sprouts near their school.
Walk in the Kingdom of Heaven
A resident of Malealea, she walks along a village trail between cereal plantations.
equal friends
Kids play by a school wall with a painting captioned of the flag of Lesotho.
in time for the cold
Women gather firewood in the Makhaleng river valley to warm up another frigid night ahead.
Basoto Maternity
A woman works with her baby strapped to her back, in the South African fashion.
Lesotho is the only independent state located entirely above XNUMX meters. It is also one of the countries at the bottom of the world ranking of human development. Its haughty people resist modernity and all the adversities on the magnificent but inhospitable top of the Earth that befell them.

The truck in which we were following only climbed from the distant border of Maseru Bridge, where the surrounding South African nation communicates with the capital of Lesotho and gives way to its even higher domains.

Almost 75km later, the asphalted road branches into another one of poorly and badly beaten earth, full of small pebbles, ups and downs and craters left by the rains some time ago.

A white sign with a message in English in red alerts you to what's coming: “women fasten your bras, men put on your cups. Fasten your seat belts and remove your dentures. The approaching road is bumpy”.

The sun gives the last signs of its grace. The wide valley all around gilds, already yellowed by the abundant cereal coverage, made of rectangular smallholdings here and there dotted with elementary earthly homes. The scenery is so bucolic and sedative that it masks the increasingly sudden jolts.

Barn of the nation, Malealea, Lesotho

One of Lesotho's many cereal valleys, in the vicinity of Malealea.

Save us the already twilight arrival at Malealea, the village that was supposed to welcome us.

Malealea's Providential Reception

Sometime between 1900 and World War I, an Englishman named Mervyn Smith decided to establish a small trading post there. Eighty-six years later, the couple mosotho (from Lesotho) Mick and Di Jones, bought what was left of it and turned it into an inn.

By then, they had no idea what they were getting into. The road was much worse than it is now, recommended only for four-wheel-drive and more robust vehicles. In the image of their resilient homeland, they faced the difficulties with determination and ingenuity.

They ended up finding themselves rewarded.

Malealea Lodge is today an asset of the kingdom. It welcomes visitors from all over the world one after another. As a rule, only those interested in deep Africa stop there, as is this one in Lesotho, even if 80% of the country is above 1800 meters and its highest point is at 3482m of Thebana Ntlenyana, the “Little and Beautiful Mountain” , that's how the people treat her.

The Heat of High Lesotho. Around the Bonfire

The sunset ends its chromatic exhibitionism and the day cools at a great pace. The lodge welcomes us around BOMA, acronym for British Military Administration Officers, with the times, adapted to the area – usually prepared to have a fire pit – where guests socialize at the end of the day.

Connoted with colonial times, BOMA has become a theme that divides subsequent generations, especially people who work in lodges and other accommodations in which this area assumes an unavoidable social role. But Malealea Lodge had more to worry about.

Starting with the integration of the needy inhabitants of the village and surroundings in your tourism project.

We sat down in front of the fire. We enjoyed the show taking place on the other side of the soft flames. First, a choral group with powerful voices. Soon, a band that introduces us to different traditional themes played with instruments created by hand by their elements: drum drums, wooden guitars and the like.

In addition to surprising and entertaining us, his exhibition reminded us how, with the proper mental predisposition, you can almost always do a lot with little. Received the welcome in that way of abbreviated festival, we retire to the roundable that had been assigned to us, in the forested back of the property.

We were exhausted from long trip originating in the South African Drakensberg Mountains. At nine o'clock at night the electricity had already been turned off. We take quick showers by candlelight and land for a longer sleep than before.

Lesotho: The Difficulties of a High-Mountain African Country

We wake up at sunrise to the usual high-pitched ibises. Shortly after, we had electricity again, guaranteed by a generator. Domestic supply is far from reaching those half-forgotten stops, just another of Lesotho's vulnerabilities.

Ironically, the country derives much of its revenue from the roughly 240.000 carats of diamonds annually mined from four mines and from the water it exports to parched South Africa, channeled from the ambitious Lesotho Highlands Water Project. They have manifestly proved meager.

About 40% of the country's population lives below the International Poverty Line of US$1.25 a day. Most households survive on subsistence farming. Some of them manage more than subsistence alone and only thanks to the money remitted to families by emigrants in South Africa and elsewhere.

As if the shortage were not enough, Lesotho was also hamstrung by the HIV/AIDS plague. By 2010, the country had a prevalence of around 24% of its inhabitants. In certain urban areas, about half of women have been infected.

Female, Malealea, Lesotho

A resident of Malealea, she walks along a village trail between cereal plantations.

Accordingly, the official life expectancy of Lesotho is, even today, just over forty years.

The scourge of HIV/AIDS led to visits by Bill Clinton and Bill Gates in 2006. Through the support of their foundations, both achieved a slight improvement in statistics.

Still, the catastrophe is far from resolved.

Basotho woman, Malealea, Lesotho

Monare, at the top of the Makhaleng river valley already with its heavy woodpile.

Malealea: a community with lots of tribal

In the mountainous countryside around Malealea, we hardly notice its latent expression, but we see other trials that the natives go through. We left the lodge with the sun returning, shy, to those rugged heights. All around, almost all the houses were built in stone and dry clay.

Their roofs are sometimes covered with huts, sometimes thin sheets of zinc, in any case, pressed by large stones that prepare them for the winter days, when a furious wind blows above Lesotho. Large cacti are used to limit properties and even streets.

Among the homes and these cacti roam pigs and domestic dogs. To our amazement, in the middle of two houses, one rectangular, the other ogival and ocher like the soil that supports them, rests an old dark blue Volkswagen Golf, just like the one we drive in Lisbon, that one, there, we suppose to be the result of many years of expatriate work.

VW Parking, Malealea, Lesotho

VW Golf parked between two typical Malealea houses.

Right next door, at the door of her small, clayey home, Regina washes clothes in a small green bowl.

Miriam, just nine months old, contemplates us wrapped in a baby grow pink and partly in the skirt where her mother keeps her on her back, in good African fashion.

Malealea, Lesotho, Mother and baby

A woman works with her baby strapped to her back, in the South African fashion.

Lesotho and Its Nimble Knights under the Nation's Hats and Blankets

We continued to wander through the village. As soon as we leave the housing fulcrum, we find the abundant cornfields that feed the village. Two or three young men lead cows in the opposite direction and another one overtakes us at the gallop of one of the nation's agile basuto horses.

Lesotho is a country of knights. At a time when the Zulus and the first Dutch settlers in the area (Pioneers) faced each other, their current territory ended up receiving horses from the Cape Town as spoils of war. These horses had been brought in by the Dutch East India Company.

They were bred with other Arabian or Persian horses. Those held in the City of the Cape they became bigger and would be considered of superior quality. Banished from this genetic improvement and forced to long mounts in difficult terrain, the Basuto are, even today, smaller but more resistant and braver.

Basotho men know they can count on them even in the dead of winter, when temperatures reach -20°C, and the mountains and trails are covered with snow and ice.

Then, but not only, the riders ride their horses under the conical and iconic hats mokorothlo that take place in the center of the national flag.

Basotho Cowboys, Malealea, Lesotho

Basotho riders on horseback of the tough basuto horses in the traditional hats and blankets of the nation.

They do it wrapped in no less emblematic blankets seaamarena. These blankets were introduced to the Lesotho highlands by British merchants.

The natives adapted us. These days, they are also used in the production of traditional beer and as gifts given by the bride and groom to the bride's family.

When a woman becomes pregnant, she curls up in a blanket, as a way of symbolizing the life she is carrying.

Over time, blankets have become so significant that their new designs have to be authorized by the royal family that took over the old one. Basutoland after independence from Great Britain in 1966.

Uniform Learning in a Poor School

We pass a school attended by dozens of young people from across the nation, these dressed in uniforms that combine red pullovers with shorts and skirts, sometimes lighter red, sometimes yellow.

Students, Malealea, Lesotho

Two girls at the village school, in the colorful uniforms worn by all the students.

It's recess time. Our presence focuses attention.

Still, with the exception of the attraction for the cameras and the portraits we produced, several of the haughty kids chose not to interrupt the games they played with, some next to a painting with the caption of the flag of Lesotho: “Blue for rain; white for peace and green for prosperity”.

Equal Students, Malealea, Lesotho

Kids play by a school wall with a painting captioned of the flag of Lesotho.

We took a peek at one of the empty classrooms and proved once again, by the precariousness and the dirt on the floor, how the last of the principles remains to be conquered.

On the way out, we come across Professor Benedicta, who is wearing a black leather jacket and holding a leather suitcase, also gilded.

We can't keep the discrepancy between their improved attire and, at the very least, the lack of cleanliness in the classrooms, from disturbing us.

Walk around Malealea and Makhaleng River

From the school, we descend towards the semi-dry valley of the Makhaleng River, behind a group of strangers on horseback of basutos. We skirted the meanders of the river, among more cornfields and fields of millet and other wild cereals that proliferated there.

Students cornfield, Malealea, Lesotho

Children play among the corn that sprouts near their school.

The scenery remains golden during the three hours that we walk along goat paths, until we reach Botsoela, a waterfall with an icy flow in which we can refresh ourselves.

We re-emerged from the depths of the valley to the edge of Malealea with the sun once again leaving those heights. Several women gather firewood to heat the upcoming night.

A young boy of about six or seven is anxious to tackle a log almost as heavy as it is uphill.

in time for the cold

Women gather firewood in the Makhaleng river valley to warm up another frigid night ahead.

Aware of how much the help she provided to her mother mattered, we decided to make up for her smallness. The lady thanks. We ended up photographing ourselves with them next to the pile of branches and trunks they had gathered there.

A few granite slabs above, we find Tumelo Monare, wrapped in a gaudy blanket but wearing a cap instead of a hat. mokorothlo.

The young shepherd grazed his flock of sheep. "This is a real herd." we praise him. "How many?" we ask you. “Tumelo answers us without hesitation: “There are 157!” "One hundred and fifty-seven sheep make a rich flock!" we replied still in the mode of compliance.

The pastor was aware of the prosperity he kept there. Give us a proud smile.

The Shepherd, Malealea, Lesotho

Tumelo Monare keeping an eye on his large flock of sheep.

Already informed of how much per day a good part of the population survived Basotho, we are left to contemplate the hundred and such sheep as the true lanzuda fortune and that they represented.

Table Mountain, South Africa

At the Adamastor Monster Table

From the earliest times of the Discoveries to the present, Table Mountain has always stood out above the South African immensity South African and the surrounding ocean. The centuries passed and Cape Town expanded at his feet. The Capetonians and the visiting outsiders got used to contemplating, ascending and venerating this imposing and mythical plateau.
Annapurna Circuit: 1th - Pokhara a ChameNepal

Finally, on the way

After several days of preparation in Pokhara, we left towards the Himalayas. The walking route only starts in Chame, at 2670 meters of altitude, with the snowy peaks of the Annapurna mountain range already in sight. Until then, we complete a painful but necessary road preamble to its subtropical base.
Lhasa, Tibet

The Sino-Demolition of the Roof of the World

Any debate about sovereignty is incidental and a waste of time. Anyone who wants to be dazzled by the purity, affability and exoticism of Tibetan culture should visit the territory as soon as possible. The Han civilizational greed that moves China will soon bury millenary Tibet.
Graaf-Reinet, South Africa

A Boer Spear in South Africa

In early colonial times, Dutch explorers and settlers were terrified of the Karoo, a region of great heat, great cold, great floods and severe droughts. Until the Dutch East India Company founded Graaf-Reinet there. Since then, the fourth oldest city in the rainbow nation it thrived at a fascinating crossroads in its history.
Cape of Good Hope - Cape of Good Hope NP, South Africa

On the edge of the Old End of the World

We arrived where great Africa yielded to the domains of the “Mostrengo” Adamastor and the Portuguese navigators trembled like sticks. There, where Earth was, after all, far from ending, the sailors' hope of rounding the tenebrous Cape was challenged by the same storms that continue to ravage there.
Saint Lucia, South Africa

An Africa as Wild as Zulu

On the eminence of the coast of Mozambique, the province of KwaZulu-Natal is home to an unexpected South Africa. Deserted beaches full of dunes, vast estuarine swamps and hills covered with fog fill this wild land also bathed by the Indian Ocean. It is shared by the subjects of the always proud Zulu nation and one of the most prolific and diverse fauna on the African continent.
Big Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe, Endless Mystery

Between the 1500th and XNUMXth centuries, Bantu peoples built what became the largest medieval city in sub-Saharan Africa. From XNUMX onwards, with the passage of the first Portuguese explorers arriving from Mozambique, the city was already in decline. Its ruins, which inspired the name of the present-day Zimbabwean nation, have many unanswered questions.  
Harare, Zimbabwewe

The Last Rales of Surreal Mugabué

In 2015, Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe said the 91-year-old president would rule until the age of 100 in a special wheelchair. Shortly thereafter, it began to insinuate itself into his succession. But in recent days, the generals have finally precipitated the removal of Robert Mugabe, who has replaced him with former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Great ZimbabweZimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe, Little Bira Dance

Karanga natives of the KwaNemamwa village display traditional Bira dances to privileged visitors to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe. the most iconic place in Zimbabwe, the one who, after the decree of colonial Rhodesia's independence, inspired the name of the new and problematic nation.  
PN Hwange, Zimbabwe

The Legacy of the Late Cecil Lion

On July 1, 2015, Walter Palmer, a dentist and trophy hunter from Minnesota killed Cecil, Zimbabwe's most famous lion. The slaughter generated a viral wave of outrage. As we saw in PN Hwange, nearly two years later, Cecil's descendants thrive.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwee

Livingstone's Thundering Gift

The explorer was looking for a route to the Indian Ocean when natives led him to a jump of the Zambezi River. The falls he found were so majestic that he decided to name them in honor of his queen
Ibo Island a Quirimba IslandMozambique

Ibo to Quirimba with the Tide

For centuries, the natives have traveled in and out of the mangrove between the island of Ibo and Quirimba, in the time that the overwhelming return trip from the Indian Ocean grants them. Discovering the region, intrigued by the eccentricity of the route, we follow its amphibious steps.
savuti, botswana, elephant-eating lions
Safari
Savuti, Botswana

Savuti's Elephant-Eating Lions

A patch of the Kalahari Desert dries up or is irrigated depending on the region's tectonic whims. In Savuti, lions have become used to depending on themselves and prey on the largest animals in the savannah.
Muktinath to Kagbeni, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Kagbeni
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit 14th - Muktinath to Kagbeni, Nepal

On the Other Side of the Pass

After the demanding crossing of Thorong La, we recover in the cozy village of Muktinath. The next morning we proceed back to lower altitudes. On the way to the ancient kingdom of Upper Mustang and the village of Kagbeni that serves as its gateway.
Sheets of Bahia, Eternal Diamonds, Brazil
Architecture & Design
Sheets of Bahia, Brazil

Lençóis da Bahia: not Even Diamonds Are Forever

In the XNUMXth century, Lençóis became the world's largest supplier of diamonds. But the gem trade did not last as expected. Today, the colonial architecture that he inherited is his most precious possession.
lagoons and fumaroles, volcanoes, PN tongariro, new zealand
Adventure
Tongariro, New Zealand

The Volcanoes of All Discords

In the late XNUMXth century, an indigenous chief ceded the PN Tongariro volcanoes to the British crown. Today, a significant part of the Maori people claim their mountains of fire from European settlers.
Saida Ksar Ouled Soltane, festival of the ksour, tataouine, tunisia
Ceremonies and Festivities
Tataouine, Tunisia

Festival of the Ksour: Sand Castles That Don't Collapse

The ksour were built as fortifications by the Berbers of North Africa. They resisted Arab invasions and centuries of erosion. Every year, the Festival of the Ksour pays them the due homage.
Entrance to Dunhuang Sand City, China
Cities
Dunhuang, China

An Oasis in the China of the Sands

Thousands of kilometers west of Beijing, the Great Wall has its western end and the China and other. An unexpected splash of vegetable green breaks up the arid expanse all around. Announces Dunhuang, formerly crucial outpost on the Silk Road, today an intriguing city at the base of Asia's largest sand dunes.
Beverage Machines, Japan
Meal
Japan

The Beverage Machines Empire

There are more than 5 million ultra-tech light boxes spread across the country and many more exuberant cans and bottles of appealing drinks. The Japanese have long since stopped resisting them.
Gothic couple
Culture

Matarraña to Alcanar, Spain (España)

A Medieval Spain

Traveling through the lands of Aragon and Valencia, we come across towers and detached battlements of houses that fill the slopes. Mile after kilometer, these visions prove to be as anachronistic as they are fascinating.

4th of July Fireworks-Seward, Alaska, United States
Sport
Seward, Alaska

The Longest 4th of July

The independence of the United States is celebrated, in Seward, Alaska, in a modest way. Even so, the 4th of July and its celebration seem to have no end.
Traveling
Annapurna Circuit: 5th - Ngawal a BragaNepal

Towards the Nepalese Braga

We spent another morning of glorious weather discovering Ngawal. There is a short journey towards Manang, the main town on the way to the zenith of the Annapurna circuit. We stayed for Braga (Braka). The hamlet would soon prove to be one of its most unforgettable places.
Colonial Church of San Francisco de Assis, Taos, New Mexico, USA
Ethnic
Taos, USA

North America Ancestor of Taos

Traveling through New Mexico, we were dazzled by the two versions of Taos, that of the indigenous adobe hamlet of Taos Pueblo, one of the towns of the USA inhabited for longer and continuously. And that of Taos city that the Spanish conquerors bequeathed to the Mexico: Mexico gave in to United States and that a creative community of native descendants and migrated artists enhance and continue to praise.
sunlight photography, sun, lights
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 2)

One Sun, So Many Lights

Most travel photos are taken in sunlight. Sunlight and weather form a capricious interaction. Learn how to predict, detect and use at its best.
Maui, Hawaii, Polynesia,
History
Maui, Hawaii

Maui: The Divine Hawaii That Succumbed to Fire

Maui is a former chief and hero of Hawaiian religious and traditional imagery. In the mythology of this archipelago, the demigod lassos the sun, raises the sky and performs a series of other feats on behalf of humans. Its namesake island, which the natives believe they created in the North Pacific, is itself prodigious.
Roça Bombaim, Roça Monte Café, São Tomé island, flag
Islands
Center São Tomé, São Tomé and Principe

From Roça to Roça, Towards the Tropical Heart of São Tomé

On the way between Trindade and Santa Clara, we come across the terrifying colonial past of Batepá. Passing through the Bombaim and Monte Café roças, the island's history seems to have been diluted in time and in the chlorophyll atmosphere of the Santomean jungle.
Maksim, Sami people, Inari, Finland-2
Winter White
Inari, Finland

The Guardians of Boreal Europe

Long discriminated against by Scandinavian, Finnish and Russian settlers, the Sami people regain their autonomy and pride themselves on their nationality.
Lake Manyara, National Park, Ernest Hemingway, Giraffes
Literature
Lake Manyara NP, Tanzania

Hemingway's Favorite Africa

Situated on the western edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the smallest but charming and richest in Europe. wild life of Tanzania. In 1933, between hunting and literary discussions, Ernest Hemingway dedicated a month of his troubled life to him. He narrated those adventurous safari days in “The Green Hills of Africa".
female and cub, grizzly footsteps, katmai national park, alaska
Nature
PN Katmai, Alaska

In the Footsteps of the Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell spent summers on end with the bears of Katmai. Traveling through Alaska, we followed some of its trails, but unlike the species' crazy protector, we never went too far.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Autumn
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Natural Parks
Nelson to Wharariki, Abel Tasman NP, New Zealand

The Maori coastline on which Europeans landed

Abel Janszoon Tasman explored more of the newly mapped and mythical "Terra australis" when a mistake soured the contact with natives of an unknown island. The episode inaugurated the colonial history of the New Zealand. Today, both the divine coast on which the episode took place and the surrounding seas evoke the Dutch navigator.
holy plain, Bagan, Myanmar
UNESCO World Heritage
Bagan, Myanmar

The Plain of Pagodas, Temples and other Heavenly Redemptions

Burmese religiosity has always been based on a commitment to redemption. In Bagan, wealthy and fearful believers continue to erect pagodas in hopes of winning the benevolence of the gods.
Characters
Look-alikes, Actors and Extras

Make-believe stars

They are the protagonists of events or are street entrepreneurs. They embody unavoidable characters, represent social classes or epochs. Even miles from Hollywood, without them, the world would be more dull.
Soufrière and Pitons, Saint Luci
Beaches
Soufriere, Saint Lucia

The Great Pyramids of the Antilles

Perched above a lush coastline, the twin peaks Pitons are the hallmark of Saint Lucia. They have become so iconic that they have a place in the highest notes of East Caribbean Dollars. Right next door, residents of the former capital Soufrière know how precious their sight is.
knights of the divine, faith in the divine holy spirit, Pirenopolis, Brazil
Religion
Pirenópolis, Brazil

A Ride of Faith

Introduced in 1819 by Portuguese priests, the Festa do Divino Espírito Santo de Pirenópolis it aggregates a complex web of religious and pagan celebrations. It lasts more than 20 days, spent mostly on the saddle.
Train Fianarantsoa to Manakara, Malagasy TGV, locomotive
On Rails
Fianarantsoa-Manakara, Madagascar

On board the Malagasy TGV

We depart Fianarantsoa at 7a.m. It wasn't until 3am the following morning that we completed the 170km to Manakara. The natives call this almost secular train Train Great Vibrations. During the long journey, we felt, very strongly, those of the heart of Madagascar.
Police intervention, ultra-Orthodox Jews, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel
Society
Jaffa, Israel

Unorthodox protests

A building in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, threatened to desecrate what ultra-Orthodox Jews thought were remnants of their ancestors. And even the revelation that they were pagan tombs did not deter them from the contestation.
the projectionist
Daily life
Sainte-Luce, Martinique

The Nostalgic Projectionist

From 1954 to 1983, Gérard Pierre screened many of the famous films arriving in Martinique. 30 years after the closing of the room in which he worked, it was still difficult for this nostalgic native to change his reel.
Crocodiles, Queensland Tropical Australia Wild
Wildlife
Cairns to Cape Tribulation, Australia

Tropical Queensland: An Australia Too Wild

Cyclones and floods are just the meteorological expression of Queensland's tropical harshness. When it's not the weather, it's the deadly fauna of the region that keeps its inhabitants on their toes.
Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.