Another, sitting just outside the hangar.
From the air, the patchwork of fields, interlaced with mountains and ridges, was absolutely breathtaking. Again and again during the flight, I thought about how truly rural and agriculture-dependent Lesotho really is. Traveling around the country by its few main roads, I do not usually see how much of the land is being farmed. So I forget that I have read several estimates that put the percentage of the population that depends on subsistence farming in the 80-85% range. In Lesotho, the debate over climate change is thus a luxury no one can afford. As the climate changes, so do the lives of most Basotho, often in devastating ways. A shortfall of rain for even one growing season can leave most of the nation without enough food. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that the Basotho farm every last little piece of arable land - even if it is on a bluff with very steep sides. The climb is worth it if the land on top can produce food.
Evidence that I was, in fact, in the plane. (We had to wear those head sets to hear each other.)
On the ground, the Ambassador and our pilot served up some coffee on the tail wing of the plane.
A couple of herd boys, or balisana (bah-DEE-sah-nah) came out to meet us.
Nearby was a school, which we were also able to tour. Like the clinic, it felt new. Note, though, that a new school in a remote village in Lesotho still has cinder block walls and an unfinished ceiling. Also, I did not see any lights or sources of heat for the cold mountain winters.
Apparently, every last one wanted to be in the pictures we were taking.
As was the scenery on our return flight.
Including a view of Maletsunyane Falls, where Kathy and I had gone abseiling.
Landing in Maseru was an eye-opener, too, as it gave me a whole new perspective on the city. About 20 seconds into the next video, a sprawling complex appears. That is Maseru's new mall. We now have two! At 40 seconds, the new parliament buildings appear. Before this, I had never really gotten a good look at them. For me, at least, this part of the trip was as mesmerizing as any other.
What a fantastic flight. What a wonderful wife I have! Thank you, Kathy. And thank you Ambassador, for allowing me to tag along.