Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Introducing... The Maseru Hash House Harriers

In need of an excuse to go hiking one Sunday morning in some place we would not likely have found by ourselves, one which featured beautiful views that could be shared with a goodly sized group of folks we had never before met, we did the obvious, and attended one of the weekly hashes hosted by the Maseru Hash House Harriers.

Hashing, for those of you, who, like me, had never heard of it before, was created by the British in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1938, as a running event. It now encompasses walkers, as well as runners, and apparently a great deal of food and drink. And singing. For more on the hash tradition, you can check this link: Hash House Harrier Information.

For our purposes, it was a great opportunity to meet some new expats here, go for a nice hike, and explore some of Lesotho that we might not otherwise have seen. The way it worked was fairly simple. I got myself on the e-mail list, with the help of the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy, and they sent out directions to the starting point. It took us a good while to find that point, which was about ninety minutes outside of Maseru, but it was well worth finding:

With each hash, a few folks scout out the route the day prior, and everyone else follows the trail they have marked. The faster members of the group run ahead and call back when they find the next set of trail markers. And that is how we progressed.

You can see in these photos that winter has started to settle in here in Southern Africa, as the landscapes have shifted their hues from greens to browns. Nonetheless, I find that this has merely given me another palette in which to appreciate how beautiful this place is...

At times, it felt strange to be a group of white folks hiking through the countryside where the only other people were Basotho from the local villages. It seemed that they found us immensely entertaining, though, as quite a few followed us for parts of our trek, and often cheered us onward with ululations, laughter and smiles. The children, in particular, seemed fascinated.

When I look at the places the local villagers live, I am envious:

But I am also reminded that life here is not easy. I, in contrast, finished the hike, got back into a four-wheel drive vehicle, and returned to our washer and dryer in Maseru...

I do not wish to be overly simplistic, though. Hard as it is, the living I see done here has a certain artistry to it that I often feel is missing from my Western world:

And it also provides us with photo opportunities that are sublimely surreal (look closely at the sign):

And happy.

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