I was back on my own again after leaving Grant and his beautiful Comfrey Cottage B&B in Lady Grey, South Africa. The weather had turned (for the better) and it was now just a hsort two day bike ride to the Lesotho border.
After no more than an hour or two of riding, I could see the difference in the landscape, housing and people. There were far less barbed wire fences and more people scattered throughout the countryside. The people were friendly and the scenery was beautiful.
I stopped for lunch in the busy city of Sterkspruit, purchased a beanie and some gloves for the cold nights ahead, and then hit the road again. My goal was to simply get as close to the Lesotho border as I possibly could without actually crossing into the country on this particular day. I wanted to spend one last night in South Africa so that I could wake up the following morning and cycle into Lesotho with a full day ahead of me.
There were a lot of interesting people on the road as I cycled. Unfortunately, the people did not respond well to me taking their photo. When I would pull out my camera in either South Africa or Lesotho, people would do either one of three things:
1) Run for their lives. They thought my camera was a gun (or some kind of soul-sucking device).
2) Cover their faces or turn their backs (The photo below is a perfect example).
3) Pose awkwardly.
That night I stumbled across a small strip of land at the top of a gradual mountain pass where there was some obvious wild space to the left side of the road and there was no barbed wire fence to keep me out. When no one was watching me, I quickly pushed my bicycle off the road and carried it at times up and over a diverse mountain terrain until I found a small patch of flat ground, hidden behind some bushes and a large boulder, to set up my tent for the evening.
In the photo below you can see the boulder that I camped behind for the night. My solar panel is resting on the rock – about half-way up. My tent is set up directly below the solar panel. And from the top of that rock I had a spectacular view of the mountains in the distance, the moon in the sky, and the valley below.
I didn’t sleep too well that night. It was cold, but I was mostly worried about being discovered. I could hear sheep (and their shepherd) walking around near my campsite and I was afraid of what might happen if I were spotted.
That never happened though.
I was spotted by some roadside weed-whacker men on my way back to the road and they asked me where I was coming from. But I played dumb and pretended like I didn’t know what they were talking about. I just told them I had come from Cape Town… and that seemed to keep them happy.
As I neared the South Africa/Lesotho border, I passed through a police check-point and then stopped at this strange commercial/industrial garage to get some water. But they didn’t have any water. They weren’t even sure what I was asking for when I said I wanted to buy some water. The only thing they had to drink in this place were Coca-Cola products. In fact, this was just the first of many places in South Africa and Lesotho that I would come across where the only thing on offer to drink was Sprite, Fanta, Coca-Cola or some other sugary drink. So I purchased a 2.5 liter bottle of Sprite and then continued on my way to the border.
No less than 100 meters before the Lesotho border post I stopped to talk to this large group of taxi/combi drivers. They couldn’t believe that I had ridden my bicycle all the way from Cape Town… or that it had taken me an entire month to do it. I snapped their photo and even had one of the drivers take a photo of me and one of the men who said he wanted his photo taken with me. Unfortunately, the man working my camera had never used a camera before and he didn’t know how to point the camera in the right direction while simultaneously pressing the shutter down. So the picture didn’t turn out. But at least I got this picture of the men. It’s always a little intimidating when you encounter a large group of people like this, but the men were mostly friendly and they left in me in good spirits as I made my way to the Lesotho border post with my passport in hand.