So to date, apart from a few visits around Maseru’s hotels and restaurants, including a rather dodgy Chinese restaurant near the bypass, that had been my experience of Lesotho. So I was looking forward to at least traversing through the more populated regions before heading out to Clarens in Free State.
Our car was a little bright orange Kia, we packed our overnight bags in and drove round to pick up Becky’s friend, Christine. She was another peace corps volunteer working out at an orphanage in Peka but had been down in Maseru for meetings during the week. We planned to take her north to Clarens then drop her off back home on the way back. It was nice to be out with Becky away from the office and we began to talk less about our work and more about life in general and life in Lesotho in particular. Christine was great company too and we loved the road trip up north.
The route is one of the busiest roads in Lesotho, connecting half a dozen of the biggest towns in the country. It was easy to tell that we were travelling through the most fertile and forgiving part of the country, and ominously standing over us to the east was the massif of the really high snow-capped mountains where life was immeasurably more harsh. In the big scheme of African Roads it was generally well maintained although there were a couple of chaotic road works where you ended up deep in hardened ruts made by hundreds of lorries which had already passed by. There were the potholes, and the tarmac did flake away at the sides in many areas but compared to most African roads, it was serviceable and we made fast progress.
It being the weekend the commercial traffic was lighter than normal, and most of the larger vehicles seemed to be pickups taking football teams to matches, or minibuses containing church group outings. Black smoke belched out of the local and intercity buses ato nd the odd four wheel drive (many with South African plates on) would roar and try overtake. Considering this was one of the main roads in the whole country, I was taken aback at how quiet it was.