May 23rd 2004
I had the opportunity to go up to the mountains a couple weeks back. This was my last trip up into the mountains of Lesotho. I really had only been there a few times despite on a regular basis looking out on the horizon and being able to see them like the monsters of the land that they are. My taxi ride of rights, lefts, ups downs and all arounds was by all means bad. I take Dramamine to calm it all down (a lesson I learned as a child going out on the ocean) but I am always still tired and run over by the time I am done.
After I got to the mountains and settled into my friends house after a five-hour journey we started making our plans. We were going to build a fence and then go fishing. My friend knew that I was coming out of Oklahoma, which makes me at least a little bit by proxy a good fence builder. The real truth of the matter is that I actually did already have some experience. We set post in concrete and strung wire but the fishing if one would call it that did not take place till the next day.
I can now say that I have fished one of the biggest rivers in Southern Africa where it has its small but steady beginnings up in the mountains. Although, because I did not catch anything I am not really sure just how much fishing I can say I did. But I did spend a whole day walking up and down a river and up over a mountain to get back home so at least that was nice. As it is one of the small kids that came with us caught a fish about four inches long so it was not a complete failure of a fishing expedition. If I would of caught a fish that was big I am sure we would of ate it but I did not although a friend of mine had a little bit of a different experience when he was up in the mountains.
He had invited me over for dinner the other day and I heard about his day.
Thomas is a German and had also gone hiking in the mountains but a different part than me. He cooked dinner at his house and made for himself a piece of meat that was marinated in red wine and spices. Now, Thomas during the dinner had a little bit of a problem chewing his meat. He told me that he thought it would be tenderer and went into a little story about where the meat came from.
He was at the beginning sure that the meat was either goat or lamb but he was not sure but the story goes that he had been hiking in the mountains when he came across a herd boy with a lot of goats and sheep.
After some very very basic hand gestures and grunts (Thomas speaks no Sesotho and herd boys don’t speak English and definitely don’t speak German) they became friends. As a peace offering the herd boy gave Thomas a big slab of meat, this same slab Thomas was eating as he told me the story. At this point I had to tell Thomas that the Basotho generally slaughter animals for two reasons, one for weddings and the other for funerals. I asked him if there were any weddings or funerals taking place. He told me that there was no one around but the two of them for miles. I then began telling a number of stories I had about the Basotho and them giving away meat. The deal is in Lesotho that the people don’t really ever slaughter animals except for the two reasons I mentioned. All the other meat for the people that live in the villages or even farther out comes from fallen animals. I told him story after story of people carving up horses, donkeys, cows, goats, and sheep after they had led long lives and died of some kind of illness. The tradition was then to give most of the meat away so it does not rot any more than it already has. About this time he stopped chewing on his piece of meat that was tough like leather and asked me. Do you think this came from a fallen animal? I asked him again if he had seen any weddings or funerals? He stopped eating is meat about then and started working on all his vegetables. I gather for now on Thomas will be getting his meat from South Africa butcheries and not mountain herd boys like most of the Peace Corps Volunteers.
I am enclosing a picture of me and some of my fellow fisherman when I was up in the mountains.
Hope, happiness, and health