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Life in Lesotho

You can hear the wind blowing through the red, yellow and green-tinted grass. That is how quiet and serene the little village of Mafika-Lisiu in Lesotho is, just over the border of South Africa in the Northern Drakensberg mountains.During a weekend trip up into the mountains, we took a day tour to Lesotho to visit a primary school, a sangoma (traditional healer), a shebeen (informal tavern) – and to hike to see thousand-year old Bushmen paintings.

This tour is exclusive to the Amphitheater Backpacker’s Inn, close to Harrismith in the eastern Free State, which has have developed a close relationship with the people of Mafika-Lisiu, and donates a part of each tour fee to the community primary school. (Ed.’s note: this qualifies Ampitheatre as an SA Blog Fair Trade destination.)

Even the meandering cows seem to be smiling in this peaceful little town, and when the dozens of children who mill around their round huts made of plaster and straw wave, my heart melts.

“How many cows would her father give for her?” A 15-year-old boy asked our tour guide in Sesotho, as we sat upon a mountain to eat our packed lunches.
Everyone around me laughed and began throwing out figures – well, she is from Texas, I’m sure he has a lot of cows, a friend remarked.

The local boys, accustomed to our tour guide leading groups of people from all over the world through their village, joke and pose for pictures as they follow us throughout the day. Wrapped in wool blankets, they lead their cows around the hills and enjoy the sunny Saturday with a new group of friends.

Many cannot afford to attend the community school, or walk the necessary kilometers to the nearest public school. They instead tend to their family’s animals and land; if they go to school, it will only be once they are older and their younger siblings and cousins are old enough to take over their tasks.

Nevertheless, the boys and the rest of the village readily welcome us into their community. No one asks you for money – all are truly interested to know where you came from, and love answering your questions.

A unique trip like this is extremely hard to come by and I suggest everyone who passes through the Drakensberg to check it out!