|The next stop was the Malelea Lodge in the center of the country. It was truly a fantastic place. It had been a trading post back in the early 1900's and then became a lodge in the 40's I think. It's a pretty popular place with bus tours, but fortunately for us the busy season had passed and it was pretty quiet.
We met up with a group of 4 peace corps volunteers working in some of the more rural South African areas of Limpopo province. Melissa, Jillian, Kelsey and Meghan were all on their holiday break and seeing some other parts of South Africa. We all took a hike to the Pitseng Gorge to swim in some rock pools in the gorge. Mick, the owner of the lodge, gave us a basic map and outlined some basic directions, but if we hadn't been followed by some local kids, we never would have found the place. After sliding our way down into the gorge we had a great lunch and swim in this series of cascades and pools carved into the sandstone.
I had planned to do a 3-day hike from Malealea to another lodge in a place called Semonkong. I'd then get transport to the Capital, Maseru and meet up with Nick and Ronnie there. The route was through rural villages and passed several large waterfalls. I spent the evening and the next morning preparing my pack and food for the 3 days and set off just about noon.
Now I was a bit nervous about heading out. The route was well travelled by the pony treks run through the lodge, and there were huts aong the way to stay in, but I didn't have a map, and I was going into an area where the extent of spoken English would be "Hello" and "give me a sweet." In discussing the trek with my host, Mick, he reassured me that people trekked the route all the time. He scribbled down a list of the towns along the way the names of the local chiefs, and directed my to head towards the school and hang a right to Tsinyane and I would be on my way.
So there I was not half a mile from the lodge just past the school, trying to decide which of the dirt tracks heading off to the right I should take. As I stood there, pondering the route, I noticed the sky behind me and the lodge turn ashen black, and a low rumble of thunder filled the air. That was my sign. I turned right around and headed back to the lodge. By the time I covered the half mile or so, the sky opened up with an amazing downpour and lightening storm.
I was disappointed not make the trek, but content to be warm and dry in the comfort of the lodge.