|Rain, Rain Go Away ... The day we returned from the hike turned out to be torrential rains. We spent the afternoon in Margate just up the coast, Nick watching soccer, me reading, and Roni at the movies. There wasn't much going on as things pretty much shut down on Saturday afternoons. The big decision, though, rather than to head north towards Swaziland, was to head into Lesotho via a small border crossing called Quacha's Nek. Our "Lonely Planet" guidebook had made it seem as though there were only two viable crossings - one not too far from where we were at Sani, but impossible without a 4x4, and the other on the far side of the country in Maseru. Now, instead of having to head north to Swaziland so Nick and Roni could get out of South Africa before their 90-day visa expired (they'd been here since September), and then back track to Lesotho, we could easily zip across the border in southern Lesotho and exit in the north and head across Zululand and the battle fields to Swaziland.
It was still raining when we climbed up in to the mountains, but fortunately, the gravel road was no match for the SS Encouragement despite the heavy rain. We crossed the border and understood why the called Lesotho the "Kingdom in the Clouds" we could just make out the base of the mountains and hills that surrounded the town through the low clouds and mist. After a brief consult with the guidebooks, we settled on the Hotel Nanthua. Their rates were considerably higher than the other options, but when we mentioned we could stay for cheaper elsewhere, they immediately matched the rates ... with a big breakfast included.
It was an odd place though, and with Roni feeling a bit under the weather, we spent two days there. It was odd in that, the only people who seemed to be there worked there. Reception, housekeeping, barman, three kitchen staff - and us. We said we'd like to get a meal, and Nick and I strolled into the dining room. The 1970's vintage wood paneling was a fine compliment to the red velour curtains, and to add the proper air of formality, the Halleleujah chorus shook the rafters. I almost went back to my room to see if I had my tux.
All of the tables were set with white table linen, but Nick and I were the ONLY ones there. WE both nearly lost it when the when the waitress came out to set something on the table and picked the napkin I had set on my lap and placed it back on the table.
When the meal finally came, we ate it hungrily in between fits of laughter.
The next day the weather had cleared and revealed the beautiful green peaks surrounding the town. While Ronnie recouped at the hotel, Nick and I had a stroll around town, through some of the markets, and past the small prison for cattle thieves. That afternoon, I set off for a hike up a nearby peak to have a look around and was rewarded with spectacular views of the town and surrounding mountains as well as a few curious looks from folks walking home as I descended the side of the hill to the trail.