Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Women's Day in the Drakensberg Mountains

South Africa very politely awards a public holiday on August 9th for Women's Day. It's officially a day for remembering the women who struggled against apartheid, but is also celebrated as a day to recognize the contributions of women to the new South Africa.

This year August 9th fell on a Thursday, so the Department of Education celebrated women (at least this one) by giving us Friday the 10th as a school holiday, making the last long weekend of the entire school year.

We made the drive in our second month-long-rental-car (for those of you following the car drama, we are buying Karen and Darren Peterson's car when they return to America on Monday the 20th) to the absolutely beautiful, but very chilly, town of Underberg.

We spent the first day unwinding on a gorgeous hike in Drakensberg National Park, where we saw just a little bit of snow.

The second day we took on an all-day horseback ride through the mountains. The scenery was beautiful, but the day left us very sore.

Our guide taught us how to make the horses run, which was great fun.

On the third day we took the drive up the Sani Pass, the highest road in Africa, into Lesotho. The road is only 20 kilometers long, but took almost 3 hours to get up because it is in impressively-bad condition.

South Africa had to pass a law that only 4-by-4 vehicles may make the trip because so many people had tried it in their Hondas and had to be rescued.

The top of the Sani Pass is the border between South Africa and Lesotho (and home to the highest pub in Africa). On the Lesotho side, we were invited into Alina's rondeval and offered bread that she had just baked.

Most people in very chilly Lesotho live in these round houses (rondevals), which have no electricity or heat. All of the rondevals in Alina's village face North so that they will be warmed by the sun during the day.

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