Monday, July 19, 2010

Thaba Bosiu and TY

If any location can be called the birthplace of Lesotho, then Thaba Bosiu is it. Since our friend Ulker was returning to Turkmenistan soon, and none of us had been to Thaba Bosiu, we decided to visit it. (Ulker has since gone back to Turkmenistan, and we miss her.)

They have small visitors center overlooking a traditional Basotho village (the site was designed in part by our friend Solomon, who is an architect):

And of course, this being Lesotho, the broader view from the visitors center was breathtaking:

This is the view looking up the trail to the top of Thaba Bosiu, which is actually a high plateau rather than a mountain. This made it the right place for Moshoeshoe's encampment, as it was broad enough for herds and housing but high enough to defend:

The visitors center offers tours of Thaba Bosiu, which comes with a brief history lesson, during which we were told that the real reason it is called Thaba Bosiu (which translates in Sesotho as Mountain of the Night, or Night Mountain) is that Moshoseshoe and his retinue arrived at night. Along with the tours, they sell locally made handicrafts:

Unfortunately, just after we arrived, Kathy received a call from work. So, while she took the call, Ulker and I watched as a school field trip group arrived and began their tour:

Of course, they were not the only visitors that day:

We also watched some local children accessing water from a pump. Despite this being the site of a national monument, the area lacks some basic infrastructure:

The call Kathy received caused us to leave before being able to take one of the tours. A volunteer's father had died, and Kathy wanted to tell her in person. Since the volunteer was part of the new group of arrivals, she was in Teyateyaneng (known simply as "TY"). So we got back into the car, and headed for TY. Just after leaving, we saw Qiloane, the small peak after which the traditional Basotho hat is fashioned:

And here is Ulker photographing Qiloane. She may be the only person I have met since moving here who takes more pictures than I do:

And here are some of those hats (among the handicrafts sold on site):

We took an experimental route to TY, running across from Thaba Bosiu (rather than going back to Maseru first) by threading a path through some less traveled territory. Initially, the road was paved (or tar as they say here):

Featured in the above video and the next video a bit further down in this post are song clips from A Varied Program of Stereo Dynamics for Your Wild Nights Alone, the recent album (yes I still call them "albums") released by the Washington, D.C. based band The Public Good. I got permission to use these clips from a my colleague, Steve, who is a really nice guy and also in the band. If you like what you hear, go to their web site and order the CD!

The tar soon gave way to roads of dirt and rock:

This route provided us with some wonderful opportunities to see rural life in Lesotho in both its more traditional and more modern forms:

While waiting for the volunteer to meet us, we visited a local car wash, where they had some trouble keeping the generator running (we had a brief chat with a young man who was the electrician working on fixing that):

We picked up the volunteer at the appointed site and time, and returned her to Maseru. She has since made the trip home to be with her family and safely returned to resume her journey as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho.

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